Not currently on display at the V&A

Animals by the watering hole

Tapestry
1985 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Ramses Wissa Wassef established his tapestry school and workshop in the village of Harraniyyah in 1952. The aim was to teach local children the basic traditional methods of weaving and dyeing, and revive the art of tapestry weaving which had formerly flourished in Egypt, particularly in the Byzantine period. 'Ali Salim, who made this tapestry, joined the Wissa Wassef school soon after its foundation at the age of 12. He went on to become one of its most famous weavers.

Wissa Wassef did not tell his pupils what to weave. Instead, he encouraged them to take inspiration from the surrounding countryside or from village life. He also forbade them from making preliminary drawings, so even a large and detailed scene like this one was built up directly on the loom.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Wool, hand dyed and woven
Brief Description
'Animals by the watering hole', hand-woven wool tapestry, made by 'Ali Salim at Wissa Wassef tapestry workshop, Egypt, 1985
Physical Description
Hand-woven wool tapestry showing an African scene of animals at a watering hole. The eccentric weave of the tapestry gives it a rippled surface.
Dimensions
  • Maximum height height: 940mm (Note: Measured by conservation)
  • Maximum width width: 1580mm (Note: Measured by conservation)
  • Depth: 10 (mm) (Note: Measured by conservation)
Marks and Inscriptions
  • (Woven into lower right hand corner of tapestry; 'WW' stands for 'Wissa Wassef'.)
  • 'RAMSES WISSA WASSEF / Ecole R.C. G 20580 T.L. 850403 / Cette tapisserie est une oeuvre d'art originale réalisée / directement sur le métier sans carton. / Un exemplaire unique par Korayem Silem / Elève de l'école / Ramses Wissa Wassef / sous la direction de / Sophie Habib Gorgi / Sophie' (Printed fabric label roughly sewn onto the back of the tapestry, in the lower left hand corner. The italic words are handwritten in pen.)
Credit line
Given by Katie Marsh in memory of Violet Lily Marsh. Copyright Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre
Object history
This tapestry was purchased directly from the Wissa Wassef workshop by the donor, Katie Marsh, in October 1985.



Historical significance: This tapestry was made by 'Ali Salim, who joined the Wissa Wassef school soon after its foundation at the age of 12, and went on to become one of its most famous weavers.
Historical context
Ramses Wissa Wassef and his wife Sophie Habib Gorgi established a tapestry school and workshop in the village of Harraniyyah in 1952. The aim was to teach local children the basic traditional methods of weaving and dying, reviving the art of tapestry weaving which had formerly flourished in Egypt, particularly in the Byzantine period. Wissa Wassef did not tell the children what to weave, nor did he allow them to make preliminary drawings. Instead, he encouraged them to take inspiration from the surrounding countryside or from village life, and to create images directly on the loom. He continued to supervise the school until his death in 1974, when his wife Sophie took over.
Production
Made at the Wissa Wassef tapestry workshop, Harraniyyah
Subjects depicted
Summary
Ramses Wissa Wassef established his tapestry school and workshop in the village of Harraniyyah in 1952. The aim was to teach local children the basic traditional methods of weaving and dyeing, and revive the art of tapestry weaving which had formerly flourished in Egypt, particularly in the Byzantine period. 'Ali Salim, who made this tapestry, joined the Wissa Wassef school soon after its foundation at the age of 12. He went on to become one of its most famous weavers.



Wissa Wassef did not tell his pupils what to weave. Instead, he encouraged them to take inspiration from the surrounding countryside or from village life. He also forbade them from making preliminary drawings, so even a large and detailed scene like this one was built up directly on the loom.
Bibliographic Reference
Fehérvari, Géza. Az iszlám müvészet története. Budapest: Képzömüvészeti Kiadó, 1987. Page 416.
Collection
Accession Number
ME.1-2008

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record createdApril 3, 2008
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