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Not currently on display at the V&A

Textile Fragment

ca. AD890-900 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is a fragment of glazed linen with an inscription embroidered in red silk. The linen is plain/tabby weave in undyed linen; approx. 19x15 tpc, S-spun. Embroidered band: Z-spun with stem or running stitch with some small horizontal stitches between upright straight stitches.

In the Abbasid period (AD750-1258) fabrics, called tiraz, were made in present day Iraq and Egypt. Text from the Koran was embroidered across the fabric with a line of geometric shapes above that were probably for decoration. The word came to mean honorific robes with woven or embroidered inscriptions. Text might also include information such as the name of the reigning caliph, place of production and date. This piece is from the Tulunid period (AD868-905). The letters are in an angular script called kufic. The form of embroidery here differs from that seen in Iraq or Iran (continuous chain stitch).

The chief interest of this inscription lies in its early date (inscriptions of that date being rather rare), on account of which the absence of the usual wa (“and”) between the numbers and the spelling mi’atayn deserves attention. One might also note that the year mentioned is that if the reconciliation of Khumarawayh , prince of Egypt, with his suzerian al-Mu’tadid, after the house if Tulun, to which the former belonged, had withheld allegiance from the Abbasids for some twenty-five years. Ab al-‘Abbas Ahmad al-Mu’tadid billah ibn al Muwaffaq was the sixteenth Abbasid caliph and resigned at Baghdad from 892/279 until his death in 902/289. During his reign Egypt was still in the hands of the Tulunid dynasty, the first ruler of which, the celebrated Ahmad ibn Tulun, had a few years previously thrown off almost entirely his allegiance to the Abbasids, at most recognising in them a vague nominal supremacy. In 895/282 al- Mu’tadid married the daughter of Khumarawayh, the son of Ahmad ibn Tulun, who had succeeded his father as ruler of Egypt. By this means a reconciliation was effected between suzerain and vassal whose houses had formerly been estranged. Khumarawayh’s daughter Qatr al-Nada (Dewdrop) went in great state to Baghdad and was there married to al-Mu’tadid in June 895/Rabi’ II 282. The wedding is famous in Islamic history for the vast amounts of money spent on her dowry and on entertainment (in Egypt) by her father. The date 895/282 is therefore a significant one when coupled with the name of al-Mu’tadid and on material coming from Egypt.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Embroidered silk on woven linen
Brief Description
Red silk on undyed linen, tiraz. Egyptian, ca. AD890-900. With Islamic inscription
Physical Description
This is a fragment of glazed linen with an inscription embroidered in red silk. The linen is plain/tabby weave in undyed linen; approx. 19x15 tpc, S-spun. Embroidered band: Z-spun with stem or running stitch with some small horizontal stitches between upright straight stitches. It is stained. This piece is from the Tulunid period (AD868-905). The letters are in an angular script called kufic. The form of embroidery here differs from that seen in Iraq or Iran (continuous chain stitch).

Dimensions
  • Width: 90mm
  • Length: 165mm
  • Script height: 10mm
Marks and Inscriptions
‘…Allah aba al-‘Abbas al-Mu’tadid bi-llah amir al-mu’ minin anjazah Allah ma amara bi-fasl sanat ithnayn thamanin mi’atayn’ (1) Decoration 2) Makers's mark; Arabic; Centre; embroidered; silk thread)
Credit line
Given by the Rev. Greville J. Chester
Object history
From a cemeterey in Akhmim.
Association
Summary
This is a fragment of glazed linen with an inscription embroidered in red silk. The linen is plain/tabby weave in undyed linen; approx. 19x15 tpc, S-spun. Embroidered band: Z-spun with stem or running stitch with some small horizontal stitches between upright straight stitches.



In the Abbasid period (AD750-1258) fabrics, called tiraz, were made in present day Iraq and Egypt. Text from the Koran was embroidered across the fabric with a line of geometric shapes above that were probably for decoration. The word came to mean honorific robes with woven or embroidered inscriptions. Text might also include information such as the name of the reigning caliph, place of production and date. This piece is from the Tulunid period (AD868-905). The letters are in an angular script called kufic. The form of embroidery here differs from that seen in Iraq or Iran (continuous chain stitch).



The chief interest of this inscription lies in its early date (inscriptions of that date being rather rare), on account of which the absence of the usual wa (“and”) between the numbers and the spelling mi’atayn deserves attention. One might also note that the year mentioned is that if the reconciliation of Khumarawayh , prince of Egypt, with his suzerian al-Mu’tadid, after the house if Tulun, to which the former belonged, had withheld allegiance from the Abbasids for some twenty-five years. Ab al-‘Abbas Ahmad al-Mu’tadid billah ibn al Muwaffaq was the sixteenth Abbasid caliph and resigned at Baghdad from 892/279 until his death in 902/289. During his reign Egypt was still in the hands of the Tulunid dynasty, the first ruler of which, the celebrated Ahmad ibn Tulun, had a few years previously thrown off almost entirely his allegiance to the Abbasids, at most recognising in them a vague nominal supremacy. In 895/282 al- Mu’tadid married the daughter of Khumarawayh, the son of Ahmad ibn Tulun, who had succeeded his father as ruler of Egypt. By this means a reconciliation was effected between suzerain and vassal whose houses had formerly been estranged. Khumarawayh’s daughter Qatr al-Nada (Dewdrop) went in great state to Baghdad and was there married to al-Mu’tadid in June 895/Rabi’ II 282. The wedding is famous in Islamic history for the vast amounts of money spent on her dowry and on entertainment (in Egypt) by her father. The date 895/282 is therefore a significant one when coupled with the name of al-Mu’tadid and on material coming from Egypt.
Bibliographic Reference
Contadini, A. (1998). Fatimid Art at the Victoria & Albert Museum. London: V&A Publications, p.60 plate.13 Ellis, M. (2001). Embroideries and samplers from Islamic Egypt. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, p.12.
Collection
Accession Number
257-1889

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record createdMarch 25, 2003
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