The story of Tristan and Isolde, a classic tale of love and deception, inspired one of the oldest surviving quilts.
The two quilts depicting this story appear to once have been one large tapestry possibly used as a wall hanging. But it has survived today as two quilts that were probably bedcovers. The first resides in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London while the other is in the Bargello Museum in Florence. It was made in Sicily around 1400.
A series of pictures along with captions were created by stuffed work that raised the pictures from the background making them three dimensional. The background has no batting, instead the linen top and bottom were stitched down by the quilting.
Background on the Tristan stories can be found at Timeless Myths: Tristan and Isolde. You will find there have been many versions of the story over the centuries beginning as early as 1000. The introduction on this page pictures a section of the quilt depicting Tristan's journey.
Several close-ups of the Tristan quilt can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum Collections. You will need to search the collections for Tristan Quilt. When you set the photos on the largest option the detail you can see is amazing.
For a picture of the whole quilt and a few more detail photos go to the Victoria and Albert Museum Photos on Flickr. (Thanks to Kimberly Wulfert for finding these.)