This capital belongs to a surviving group including other architectural fragments that once decorated the cloister of the Abbey of Larreule. A cloister was a covered walkway or arcade, usually around all four sides of a square area of grass (the "cloister garth"). The seclusion of the cloister was the monksâ€™ exclusive domain, off limits to others. Here, the monks were supposed to pray, study, meditate, and exercise in privacy and solitude. Such cloister capitals served both to instruct the monks and as a focus for their devotions.
Other capitals in this series are installed in the Jardin Massey at Tarbes, near the original abbey. An arch from Larreule has been assembled with other associated French capitals at The Cloisters in New York.