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Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Room 5 | Textiles gallery

Explore the beauty and variety of Eastern Art objects on display in the Textiles gallery.

Textiles gallery

Galleries : 97 objects

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Textile fragment with tiraz band in Kufic script

Glossary

kufic

  • kufic

    A term denoting various styles of angular Arabic script. Emerged in the early centuries of Islam, kufic soon became the preferred hand to copy holy texts.

Location

    • Lower ground floor | Room 5 | Textiles

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.

 

Publications online

  • Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt by Marianne Ellis

    Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt

    This is a detail from one of the earliest embroideries in the collection, and one of the very few that can be securely dated. The inscription mentions both Harun, the Tulunid ruler of Egypt from 896-905, and the Abbasid caliph al-Mu'tadid bi'llah, (892-902). It reads “ln the name of God. Praise be to God. The favour of God to the servant of God. Abu'l-‘Abbas, the Imam, al-Mu'tadid bi'llah, Commander of the Faithful, may God strengthen him. This is what he ordered, may God glorify him, to be made in the workshop of Tinnis, at the hands of 'Ubaid Allah, son of Sulaiman, in the year 288 [A.D. 901]. Peace. l-larun, son of Khumarawaih, client of the Commander of the Faithful " (Britton 1942). Tinnis, on the north-eastern side of the Nile delta, was renowned for its linen industry. The word tiraz originated from a Persian term meaning “to embroider" but subsequently came to mean an honorific robe bearing woven or embroidered inscriptions. The writing may indicate the royal or state workshop where the cloth was manufactured and decorated. Such inscriptions continued in use throughout the 10th century. This fragment has come from a garment, perhaps a robe, turban cloth, shawl or sash that was finally used as a burial shroud although not made specifically for this purpose. According to Essie Newberry's account in the journal ‘Embroidery’ in 1940, it came from a cemetery near Atfeh, some sixty-five kilometres south of Cairo.

    The letterforms are in angular kufic script and although the scale here is minute (a single upstroke is only 8mm high), the embroiderer has succeeded in conveying the elegant quality of the original calligraphy. The worker has transformed the letter forms into needlework using different stitches. He or she started by withdrawing a weft thread and replacing it by a double line of back stitches and then worked the upstrokes in counted slanted satin stitches and outlined them in tiny running stitches. Where the letters had curves, the embroiderer simply couched down a thread to the required shape. This is very different from the continuous chain stitch embroidery nearly always worked on embroidered tiraz bands from Iraq and Iran. The explanation for this probably lies in the fact that the Egyptian textile workers had been accustomed to adding decoration by tapestry-weaving. Embroidery was probably a new technique, whereas further East there was a tradition of chain stitch embroidery.
  • The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries by Ruth Barnes and Marianne Ellis

    The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries

    A complete tiraz inscription, very finely embroidered. It reads "Bismillah al-hamdu lillah ni'mat min allah li 'abdallah Abi'l-'Abbas al-imam al-Mu'tadid billah amir al-mu'minin ayyadahu allah mimma 'umira a'azzahu allah bi 'amlihi fi tiraz Tinnis 'ala yadai 'Ubaidallah ibn Sulayman sanat thamaniya wa thamanin wa mi'atain salam Harun ibn Khumarawaih mawla (amir) al-mu'minin" (In the name of God, praise be to God, the favour of God to the servant of God Abu'l-Abbas, the Imam, al-Mu'tadid billah, Commander of the Faithful, may God support him. Among the things ordered, may God glorify him, to be made in the tiraz at Tinnis at the hands of 'Ubaidallah son of Sulayman in the year 288. Peace. Harun son of Khumarawaih, client of the Commander of the Faithful).

    The textile therefore was made in Tinnis, in Egypt, in the year 901 A.D. According to Newberry it was found at a cemetery near Atfal, 40 miles south of Cairo.
Notice

Objects may have since been removed or replaced from a gallery. Click into an individual object record to confirm whether or not an object is currently on display. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis, so contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular Eastern Art object.

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