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Tiraz

  • Place of origin:

    North Africa (made)

  • Date:

    7th century-8th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woven silk

    Dye samples of this textile were analysed as part of the project “Caracterización de las producciones textiles de la Antigüedad Tardía y Edad Media temprana: tejidos coptos, sasánidas, bizantinos e hispanomusulmanes en las colecciones públicas españolas” (“Characterization of Late Antique and Early Medieval textile production: Coptic, Sasanian, Byzantine and Spanish Muslim textiles in Spanish national collections”) (HAR2008-04161) directed by Dr Laura Rodríguez Peinado, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Dpt. de Historia del Arte I (Medieval). Analysis was conducted by Enrique Parra at the Alfonso X El Sabio University, Madrid. The dyes were analysed through high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), extracting threads with a thickness varying between 5 and 1mm by means of 100 µL of methanol/hydrochloric acid/water 1:2:1.

    The results for this textile were as follows:
    Red - Madder
    White - No dye was detected
    Yellow & Red - Madder
    Green - Indigo
    Orange Red - Madder

  • Museum number:

    1314-1888

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Mounted with T.13-1960. Silk fabric, woven in colours on a red background. The inscription is embroidered in yellow silk. The fabric bears a close resemblance in the scheme of colour and manner of weaving to several Byzantine silk fabrics in the V&A which are considered to date from the seventh to the ninth century.

Technical analysis: Compound twill with main and binding warps in red silk and wefts of silk in three or four colours. Weft-faced 1:2 compound twill. Warp: red silk, Z-twist, one main to one binding or pattern warp. Weft: silk with no noticeable twist, three or four colours, red, green, yellow continuous; cream interrupted. One pick of each colour in turn. Three hundred main warp ends in a full unit of roundel pattern, or about 150 in half unit. Selvedge on left side: plain red stripe, W. 2 cm, and one cord consisting of about eight ends of Z-twist red silk not plied together.

The writing of Marwan without a long a after the w is a case of sciptio defectiva, in keeping with seventh- and eight-century epigraphical practices. The “Allah” before Marwan is probably part of ‘Abdullah, used here not as a name but in its literal signification of Servant of God, a style adopted by the earlier caliphs. There are two Marwans: Marwan ibn al-Hakam (684-5/65-66) and Marwan ibn Muhammad (744-50/127-133). The date of this textile must therefore be between 684/64 and 750/133.

The bigger piece with the bit of inscription fi tiraz Ifriqiya was, until 1960, in the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. A third piece from the same fabric, also with part of the inscription, is in the Brooklyn Museum in New York (41.1265), whereas another uninscribed, fragment is in the Musée Royaux des Arts Décoratifs in Brussels. The inscription of the three fragments read as follows: “[the servant of] God, Marwan, Commander of the Faithful, of what was ordered … al-r … [or al-z … ] in the tiraz of Ifriqiya”.

Place of Origin

North Africa (made)

Date

7th century-8th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Woven silk

Dye samples of this textile were analysed as part of the project “Caracterización de las producciones textiles de la Antigüedad Tardía y Edad Media temprana: tejidos coptos, sasánidas, bizantinos e hispanomusulmanes en las colecciones públicas españolas” (“Characterization of Late Antique and Early Medieval textile production: Coptic, Sasanian, Byzantine and Spanish Muslim textiles in Spanish national collections”) (HAR2008-04161) directed by Dr Laura Rodríguez Peinado, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Dpt. de Historia del Arte I (Medieval). Analysis was conducted by Enrique Parra at the Alfonso X El Sabio University, Madrid. The dyes were analysed through high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), extracting threads with a thickness varying between 5 and 1mm by means of 100 µL of methanol/hydrochloric acid/water 1:2:1.

The results for this textile were as follows:
Red - Madder
White - No dye was detected
Yellow & Red - Madder
Green - Indigo
Orange Red - Madder

Marks and inscriptions

'...Allah Marwan amir al-mu'[minin ...]'
'[the Servant of] God, Marwan, Commander of the Faithful ... in the tiraz of Ifriqiya'
Inscription; decoration; Arabic; border; woven

Dimensions

Length: 50.7 cm, Width: 30.3 cm, Width: 1115 mm of frame mount, Height: 570 mm of frame mount, Depth: 80 mm of frame mount

Object history note

Purchased from the Reverend Greville John Chester

Descriptive line

Textile; Fragment of silk tiraz woven in green and yellow on a red ground, featuring large roundels with rosettes in the spandrels, in imitation of a Byzantine textile. Bears an inscription naming an Umayyad Caliph Marwan, who may be Marwan I (684-684) or Marwan II (744-750). North Africa, 7th-8th century.; 700s, North African; Akhmim. Arabic inscription. Mounted with 1385-1888 and T.13-1960.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Contadini, Anna, Fatimid Art at the Victoria & Albert Museum. London: V&A Publications, 1998. p.59 - 60, plate 12
Baker, Patricia, L. Islamic Textiles, London: British Museum Press, 1995. 192p., ill. ISBN 0-7141-2522-9. Fig p. 39 top
The Arts of Islam, Catalogue of the exhibition held at Hayward Gallery 8 April- 4 July, 1976, The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1976. 396p., ill. ISBN 0 7287 0081 6 paper bound, 07287 0080 8 cloth bound. Catalogue entry 1, p73
Guest, A. R., 'Notice of some Arabic inscriptions on textiles in the South Kensington Museum' In: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, London: 1906, pp390-1
Guest, A. R., and Kendrick, A. F., 'The Earliest dated Islamic textiles'In: Burlington Magazine, LX, 1932. pp185-91
Day, F. E., 'The tiraz silk of Marwan' In:Archaeologica Orientalia in Memoriam Ernst Herzfeld, 1952, pp39-61

Production Note

It mentions a Caliph named Marwan, however it is unclear whether it refers to Marwan I (Marwan ibn al-Hakam 684-5) or Marwan II (Marwan ibn Muhammad 744-750).

Materials

Silk

Techniques

Woven

Categories

Islam; Africa

Collection

Middle East Section

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