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The Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries, Stirling Castle

The Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn Tapestries, Stirling Castle. When James V owned the castle an inventory described a set of tapestries depicting ‘the history of the unicorn.’ From this evidence, in 2001 a set of Unicorn tapestries was commissioned as part of the castle’s regeneration project, to restore it to how it may have looked in 1540 when it was home to Mary of Guise and James V. Encoded with the largely forgotten language of flowering images and natural symbolism.  The Stirling Castle tapestries are a copy of the originals currently in the Cloisters Museum in New York.  The oldest mention of the originals, is part of the inventory of the estate of Francois VI de la Rochefoucauld.

The mythology of the Unicorn dates back three thousand years before it was adopted as a symbol of Christ in the Middle Ages. The set of seven tapestries preserve a forgotten tale of the Divine Hunt for regeneration, renewal and survival. Fruitfulness, fertility and Sacred Union are central themes implicated within the tapestries. In the final tapestry is the Resurrected Unicorn surrounded by symbols of fertility. He is depicted within a Sacred Garden known as a ‘Hortus Conclusus’ chained to a pomegranate tree. The pomegranate tree is a powerful symbol of the Tree of Life, symbolizing the life giving fertile womb and endurance…

 

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Plate 1 – The Start of the Hunt

 

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Plate II – The Unicorn at the Fountain

 

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Plate III – The Unicorn Crossing the Stream

 

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Plate IV – The Unicorn Defends Himself

 

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Plate V – The Unicorn is Tamed by the Maiden

 

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Plate VI – The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle

 

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Plate VII – The Unicorn in Captivity