Woven Silk

800-1000 (made)
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Place Of Origin

The pattern is dominated by roundels with a complex border arranged in stacked rows. Each medallion contains a pair of lions, standing (statant) and confronted, and other motifs. There is a gap half the height of a medallion between the horizontal rows. It contains two pairs of running quadrupeds. The upper pair, with ten spots on a dark ground, has curled tails and look to the front. The lower pair, now pale green in colour and with bushy tails, have their heads turned back. Sited vertically between each group of four quadrupeds is a stylized, tree-like arrangement of plant-based motifs. The pattern is a degraded version of its model, with rounded lines squared off. The inner pearl border of the roundels, for example, has been converted into a border of small white squares on a dark ground.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Pattern woven polychrome silk
Brief Description
Compound silk twill, the colours faded, the pattern dominated by roundels with confronted lions, Iran or western Central Asia, 800-1000
Physical Description
The pattern is dominated by roundels with a complex border arranged in stacked rows. Each medallion contains a pair of lions, standing (statant) and confronted, and other motifs. There is a gap half the height of a medallion between the horizontal rows. It contains two pairs of running quadrupeds. The upper pair, with ten spots on a dark ground, has curled tails and look to the front. The lower pair, now pale green in colour and with bushy tails, have their heads turned back. Sited vertically between each group of four quadrupeds is a stylized, tree-like arrangement of plant-based motifs. The pattern is a degraded version of its model, with rounded lines squared off. The inner pearl border of the roundels, for example, has been converted into a border of small white squares on a dark ground.
Dimensions
  • Length: 63cm
  • Width: 48.5cm (Note: Mounted on board: H 65 x W 75 x D 2 cm)
Styles
Object history
The textile was reportedly found in the Verdun Cathedral. It is comparable with the shroud of St Mengold in the collegiate church of Notre Dame at Huy in Belgium. This large silk textile (length 1.95 m) has an inscription on its reverse that was first interpreted as a text in Soghdian, and on this basis Dorothy Shepherd identified the shroud as an example of "Zandaniji" silk, that is, silk manufactured in the village of Zandanij near Bukhara (now in Uzbekistan) in the 7th century. See D.G. Shepherd and W.B. Henning, “Zandaniji Identified?” In Aus der Welt der islamischen Kunst: Festschrift für Ernst Kühnel zum 75. Geburtstag am 26. 10. 1957, Berlin, 1959, pp. 15–40. (See also D.G. Shepherd, “Zandaniji Revisited”, in Documenta Textilia: Festschrift für Sigrid Müller-Christensen, ed. M. Flury-Lemberg and K. Stolleis, Munich, 1980, pp. 105–22; S. Whitfield, ed., La route de la soie: Un voyage à travers la vie et la mort, Brussels, 2009, pp. 32–3.) Radiocarbon dating of the shroud of St Mengold showed that Shepherd’s dating was too early. There is a high probability (95.4%) that it was produced between AD 780 and 980, and a probability of 68.2% that it was made between 870 and 970. See Nicholas Sims-Williams and Geoffrey Khan, “Zandaniji Misidentified”, Bulletin of the Asia Institute, vol. 22 (2008), pp. 207–13, p. 208. In addition, when Nicholas Sims-Williams examined the inscription in 2011, he found he could not read the “Soghdian” text, which he presumed was Arabic. This was confirmed by Geoffrey Khan, who published the text as

لعبد الرحمن الامير بثمن / و ثلثين دينارا غير ثلث “Belonging to ‘Abd al-Rahman the Commander, [acquired] for 38 dinars less one third.” The use of the gold dinar as the unit of account places the note in Egypt or Syria or, less probably, Iraq, while the unit of account in East Iran at this time was the silver dirham. The palaeographic features of the inscription suggest a dating in the 9th century. See Sims-Williams and Khan, “Zandaniji Misidentified”, pp. 210–11.
Subject depicted
Associated Object
1746-1888 (Version)
Bibliographic Reference
R.W. Ferrier (ed.), The Arts of Persia, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989, p.155, pl.9
Collection
Accession Number
763-1893

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record createdNovember 7, 2003
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