A fabric woven by hand on a loom, usually of silk or wool, with a non-repetitive pattern which is created during the manufacture. In Europe, the design was copied from a full-scale coloured pattern, known as a cartoon. Often created as wall decorations, tapestries also provided insulation and could be easily transported. The word is often applied mistakenly to other textiles used for wall-hangings and upholstery.
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/taps/hd_taps.htm Description and illustrations on Metropolitan Museum of Art website.