Tapestry is a heavy woven textile with intricate designs suitable for wall-hangings. Presumably, it is traditionally woven on a vertical, or floor loom, as it is in our world.
It is likely that the tapestry weavers use fabric such as linen or cotton or wool. Threads may include silk, gold, silver and perhaps other alternatives. Tapestries have been in existence for a long time, some are ancient. It is likely that they are very valuable, it is mentioned in A Dance with Dragons that some tapestries are considered priceless.
Tapestries can be very ornate, for example, depicting the stories of great battles, events or famous people. Westerosi noble houses have tapestries portraying their family histories that remain in their families for generations, hence some of them having a worn appearance. Many tapestries are likely considered treasured family heirlooms. They are also useful ways of paying homage to and remembering prideful histories down the generations. They serve as a subtle reminder as to who their heroes and adversaries really are.
Unlike murals or other fixed forms of art tapestries are not tied to the architecture, a tapestry may be removed from a wall and rolled up for transport to another location, or storage. Xaro Xhoan Daxos is easily able to take an old large tapestry by ship from Qarth to Meereen; it takes four Qartheen sailors to bear it rolled on their shoulders.
A tapestry may depict people, events or times that are now out of favour under the current regime. In that case the important but offending tapestry can merely be stored away if need be - instead of having to be destroyed.
A Game of Thrones
When King Robert Baratheon's entourage travels north to offer the position of Hand of the King to Lord Eddard Stark at Winterfell, they stay at Castle Darry both en route and returning. The Darrys were known Targaryen loyalists. On the northbound stop, Tyrion Lannister discovers tapestries depicting the Targaryen kings which had been taken down by House Darry and hidden away in the cellars for the duration of King Robert's visit. This is indicates that despite the fall of House Targaryen and despite the loss of half their lands, most of their wealth, and almost all their power, House Darry remains quietly steadfast in their loyalty to House Targaryen by the retention and display of these tapestries in the privacy of their own domain.
A Feast for Crows
Ser Arys Oakheart recalls that there is a tapestry of Lord Edgerran Oakheart at Old Oak depicting him sitting with a hundred Dornishmen’s heads piled around his feet. There is also tapestry depicting a member of the Kingsguard, Ser Olyvar Oakheart, all in white dying beside King Daeron I Targaryen in Dorne. Arys thinks of Alester Oakheart and the Oakheart tradition of killing Dornishmen. He recalls that there is a tapestry at Old Oak depicting Alester in the Prince's Pass, blowing a warhorn.
Cersei Lannister mentions that she received a letter from Petyr Baelish beseeching her to ship him some old tapestries’ of Robert’s. Later Petyr mentions to Sansa Stark that Cersei is sending him some splendid tapestries.
While traveling to Riverrun, Jaime Lannister stops at Castle Darry, now given to Lancel Lannister and observes that its walls are still bare. He recalls that during an earlier visit Tyrion had pointed out the squares of darker stone where the tapestries hand once hung. Ser Raymun Darry could remove the hangings but not the marks they had left. Jaime recalls that Tyrion slipped a handful of stags to one of Darry’s serving men for the key to the cellar where the missing tapestries were hidden. Tyrion showed them to Jaime by light of a candle.
A Dance with Dragons
While visiting Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen the merchant prince Xaro Xhoan Daxos gifts her with a tapestry that has been in his family vaults since before the Doom that took Valyria. Xaro uses it in his attempt to persuade her to abandon Meereen and travel by sea to Westeros.
Daenerys stands by Xaro’s side and examines the tapestry when it is unrolled. Old, dusty, and faded, it is beautiful and covers half the floor. The seas are a blue silk sea, the lands are green, and the mountains black and brown. Cities are shown as stars in gold or silver thread. Daenerys realises that the tapestry depicts the world prior to the Doom cataclysm - there is no Smoking Sea and the Valyrian peninsula is not yet an island. Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen are three silver stars beside the blue of Slaver's Bay.
After failing to convince Daenerys, Xaro threatens her and she tells him to leave - but he neglects to take the tapestry with him. Daenerys then seats herself upon her ebon bench and gazes across the blue silk sea to Westeros, silently vowing to herself, "One day".
In Meereen, inside the heart of the Great Pyramid, on the walls of the King Hizdahr zo Loraq’s apartments, there are priceless tapestries. The tapestries are ancient and much faded and depict the glory of the Ghiscari Empire. The largest of them show the last survivors of a defeated Valyrian army passing beneath the yoke and being chained. After slaying the pit fighter Khrazz in the heart of the Great Pyramid Ser Barristan Selmy finds Daenerys’s husband, Hizdahr zo Loraq, Fourteenth of His Noble Name, hiding behind one of these tapestries, whimpering, begging to be spared.
- House Oakheart’s tapestries of Ser Olyvar Oakheart, Alester Oakheart, and Lord Edgerran Oakheart located at Old Oak.
- House Oakheart’s various tapestries at Old Oak that display the conflict between the Oakhearts and Dornishmen.
- House Darry tapestries - woven portraits of all the Targaryen kings, from Aegon I to Aerys II.
- Robert Baratheon’s hunting tapestries in the Red Keep’s throne room. They are taken down after Robert's death.
- White Sword Tower’s white woolen tapestries located in the round room on its first floor.
- Lord Humfrey Hewett's tapestries from his castle hall. After the Battle of the Shield Islands, Lucas Codd and Quellon Humble tear the tapestries down from the hall’s wall to serve as cloaks.
- House Blackwood’s woolen tapestries covering the walls of Raventree Hall’s solar.
- House Connington’s faded tapestries on the walls of Griffin's Roost’s great hall.
- House Arryn’s dozen splendid tapestries along the Eyrie’s arcade.
- Tapestries on the walls of the Hermit’s Hole.
- Old tapestries of King Robert's being delivered to Petyr Baelish.
- Ghiscari tapestries - the tapestries are ancient and much faded and depict the glory of the Ghiscari Empire - currently hanging on the walls of the heart of the Great Pyramid.
- Xaro Xhoan Daxos’s map of the world tapestry that had been in his family vaults since before the Doom which took Valyria. The tapestry predates the Doom and is now in the possession of Queen Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen.
- Queen Daenerys Targaryen’s tapestry hanging over her bed, gifted to her by freedwomen.
He went but left his world behind.