Textile: L. 40 3/16 in. (102 cm)
W. 14 5/16 in. (36.3 cm)
Mount: L. 45 1/4 in. (114.9 cm)
W. 19 3/4 in. (50.2 cm)
D. 1 in. (2.5 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1929
Not on view
This textile exhibits bands of varying patterns, some including interlacing calligraphic inscriptions. Here, the texts convey wishes for happiness, good fortune and prosperity. The hues of this brightly-colored fragment - with its contrasting red, green and gold - characterize the textiles produced during the Nasrid and later periods in Spain and North Africa. Its appearance is in sharp contrast to textiles produced in earlier periods. The earlier pieces exhibit a lighter, more delicate palette of minty greens, light blues and a heavy use of golden metal-wrapped threads.
The royal textile factories of al-Andalus were famous throughout the medieval world in a period when luxury textiles constituted one of the most valuable possessions in a ruler’s treasury as well as in the trousseaux of wealthy brides. Wall hangings, curtains, mattresses, cushions, and pillows made from silk and embellished with gold and silver brocade were assembled in the halls and open courtyards of well-to-do homes and palaces. Medieval textual sources give evidence of these abundant textile furnishings and of the political, economic, and aesthetic meanings that they conveyed in court ceremonials.
This silk fragment woven in bright colors and richly decorated with geometric and epigraphic motifs could have been made for such a ceremonial purpose. The large dimensions of the fragment, with the selvage preserved on one side and the fringe on the bottom, suggest that it would have served as a furnishing, not a garment. This supposition is supported by the size of many similar extant fragments, none of them complete, but many of nearly identical dimensions.
The design of this textile is composed of broad and narrow bands. The two widest contain a geometric interlace based on eight-pointed radiating stars, while other, narrower bands are embellished with a repeated, knotted kufic inscription and small cartouches with a phrase in cursive naskhi script. Additional bands with merlons and small-scale interlace motifs complete the composition. The similarity in design of the upper interlace band to carved-stucco panels in the Alhambra, the palaces of the Nasrid dynasty in Granada, and of the lower interlace band to dadoes of ceramic-tile mosaics on the Alhambra’s walls, has led scholars to conclude that this and similar textiles belong to the milieu of the Nasrid court at the height of its artistic production.
Olga Bush (author) in [Ekhtiar et al. 2011]
Inscription: Inscription in Arabic in kufic script, written twice
on a band (once in mirror image):
Second Arabic inscription in naskhi script in cartouches:
Good luck and prosperity
Marking: See link panel.
[ Adolph Loewi, Venice, until 1929; sold to MMA]
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