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Woven silk

Woven silk

  • Place of origin:

    Bukhara (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    800-1000 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pattern woven polychrome silk

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This silk is part of a group which has been the subject of much discussion in terms of its attribution and date. Originally thought to have been part of a relatively small number of silks surviving, many more related pieces have been identified in more recent years both in western Europe and Russia.

One silk in the group from a church in Huy, France has a contemporatry inscription on the back in Sogdian, the language of a people who lived in the region of Bhokara (Western Asia). They share features which differ from those of other contemporary Near Eastern and Far Eastern silks, both technically and with regard to the poorly dyed, strong, coarse threads (the dyes may have been Chinese).

The influence of Sasanian (a pre-Islamic dynasty in Persia, now Iran) art, is evident in this example: the face-to-face lions in circles, as well as the running animals below, are familiar from the repetoire of designs of textiles from many centres in the Near and Far East.

Physical description

Yellowish ground (possibly originally been red) and dark greenish patterns with symmetric decoration consisting in two roundels containing a confronted pair of lions, palm-trees and other symbols. Addorsed foxes and hounds occupy the space between these roundels and another pair below (only the top is visible) and possibly also above. A stylized possibly date-tree divides symmetrically the plane. Samite.

Place of Origin

Bukhara (possibly, made)


800-1000 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Pattern woven polychrome silk


Length: 63 cm, Width: 48.5 cm

Object history note

It comes from the Verdun Cathedral.

Historical significance: These type of "Zandaniji" textiles are testimonies to the vibrant trade in silks of this period and how they were appreciated in both east and west.

Historical context note

A large number of similar textiles, considered to be typically Sogdian, has been preserved in European cathedrals from the medieval period, but fragments have also been found in the east, for example sutra wrappers found in Dunhuang, China, now in the British Museum and Pelliot collection at the Musee Guimet, Paris. This textile is considered to belong to the Zandaniji group, the Sogdian textiles that have been linked to the village of Zandaniji, near Bukhara, by an inscription referring to such place present on one of them. Alike other textiles this one shows the debt to Sasanian-style design.

Descriptive line

Middle East, Textiles; Fragment, yellow and green compound silk twill with confronted lions in roundels, Sogdian Central Asia, possibly Bukhara, Uzbekistan, 800-1000

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

Ferrier, R. W. (ed), The Arts of Persia, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 1989. 334p., ill. ISBN 3-8041-801-06230-8
Ch.9, pl.9

Production Note

Found in the Cathedral of Verdun in France




Patterned weave

Subjects depicted



Islam; Textiles; Christianity


Middle East Section

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