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

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

Indian Block-Printed Textiles in Egypt: The Newberry Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

A catalogue of Newberry's block-printed textiles by Ruth Barnes (published Oxford, 1997).

Indian Block-Printed Textiles in Egypt: The Newberry Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford


Ajrakh Block-printed textile produced in Gujarat and Sindh.

Alizarine Crystalline compound prepared from madder and related plants; acts as a red dye agent.

Bandhani Resist-dye process in which parts of the textile are tied with thread prior to dyeing, to reserve them from the dye solution.

Batik Resist-dye process in which wax is applied to the surface of the cloth prior to dyeing.

Bodhi tree Ficus religiosa, a tree that is sacred in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The Buddha attained enlightenment while seated under one. As a textile motif it is often repeated in abbreviated form, with a short trunk and single leaf.

Chintz Mordant- and often also resist-dyed textiles. Term used in the 17th- and 18th cent. textile trade was chit, chhit, or also chitte, from the Indian chitta, ‘spotted cloth’.

Genizah Container or separate room in a synagogue into which all documents are deposited that refer to God. Specifically used here to refer to the Genizah documents found in the Cairo Ben Ezra synagogue.

Hamsa Goose; a favourite animal frequently represented in Jain manuiscripts and on textiles.

Ikat Resist-dye process in which the pattern is tied into the yarn prior to weaving. The threads are dyed before they are then set up on a loom to be woven. The resist can be applied to warp, weft, or both (see patola).

Indigo A dye prepared by fermentation from one of the Indigofera plants, used for dyeing all shades of blue.

Kalamkari Worked with a pen (kalam); refers to textiles with hand-applied rather than block-printed resist and mordant. Confusingly, in Persian textile production kalamkari refers to block-printed designs.

Karim/Karimi Islamic merchant families who dominated international trade from the late 13th to early 15th cent.

Maa’ Ceremonial cloth used by the Toraja or Sulawesi. Many of the maa’ were formerly imported from Gujarat and are similar in design to the Indo-Egyptian textiles.

Madder The plant Rubia tinctorum; its root contains alizarine which produces red.

Mordant A substance used for fixing a dye to the fibre, essential for the use of madder.

Morindone Dye stuff from the roots and bark of the plant Morinda citrifolia. It produces red; it was formely in use in north-western India.

Patola (pl.), Patolu (sing.) Double-ikat silk textiles dyed and woven in Gujarat. Used in north-western India and in the trade with maritime South-East Asia.

Plangi Resist-dye process in which areas of textiles are tied off prior to dyeing. See also bandhani.

Ply Twisting together two or more single threads to make a heavier yarn. The twist is usually in the opposite direction to the spin.

Reed An instrument used in the loom. The warp ends are passed through it to keep them evenly spaced.

Spin Twisting together of fibres to make a continuous thread. The direction of the twist is called either s- or z-spun: s-spun means that the spirals of the thread conform with the central portion of the letter S; z-spun means the spirals of the thread conform with the central portion of the letter Z.

Tabby weave Basic binding system or weave based on a unit of two warp and two weft, in which each warp passes over one weft and under the other. A balanced tabby has an equal spacing of warp and weft, so that neither dominates the surface appearance of the woven cloth.

Thread-count The humber of warp and weft threads found in a given measurement, usually centimetre or inch. Where it is possible to tell warp and weft apart, it is the convention to refer to the warp before weft.

Tie-dye See bandhani and plangi.

Tiraz Originally means ‘embroidery’ in Persian, but it is used to refer to any robe with embroidered or woven bands containing inscriptions. The message usually includes blessings, Koranic verses, the name of the ruler, and the place of manufacture. Tiraz were woren by the court from Umayya to Mamluk times, and they were bestowed by the ruler on persons of rank.

Tritik Resist-dye process in which designs are reserved by sewing and gathering the cloth, rather than by tying (plangi and bandhani).

Twist See spin.

Warp The longitudinal threads of a textile, arranged between the two beams of the loom. A single thread of warp is called an end.

Weft The transverse threads of a textile which are passed through the warp to create the cloth. A single thread of weft is called a pick.


Object information may not accurately reflect the actual contents of the original publication, since our online objects contain current information held in our collections database. Click on 'buy this publication' to purchase printed versions of our online publications, where available, or contact the Jameel Study Centre to arrange access to books on our collections that are now out of print.

© 2013 University of Oxford - Ashmolean Museum