Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Textile Fragment

Object Name:
14th century
Silk; lampas
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)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1929
Accession Number:
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:
والیمن والإقبال
Good luck and prosperity

Marking: See link panel.
[ Adolph Loewi, Venice, until 1929; sold to MMA]
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 276, ill. fig. 184 (b/w).

Aanavi, Don. "Western Islamic Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 27, no. 3 (November 1968). p. 200, ill. (b/w).

Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. p. 65, ill. fig. 47 (color).

Dodds, Jerrilynn D., Dr., Oleg Grabar, Antonio Vallejo Triano, Daniel S. Walker, Renata Holod, Cynthia Robinson, Juan Zozaya, Manuel Casamar Perez, Christian Ewert, Guillermo Rossello Bordoy, Cristina Partearroyo, Sabiha Al Khemir, Dario Cabanelas Rodriguez, James Dickie, Jesus Bermudez Lopez, D. Fairchild Ruggles, and Juan Vernet. Al-Andalus : The Art of Islamic Spain, edited by Dr. Jerrilynn D. Dodds. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992. no. 97, p. 335, ill. (color).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Daniel S. Walker, Arturo Ponce Guadián, Sussan Babaie, Stefano Carboni, Aimee Froom, Marie Lukens Swietochowski, Tomoko Masuya, Annie Christine Daskalakis-Matthews, Abdallah Kahil, and Rochelle Kessler. "Colegio de San Ildefonso, Septiembre de 1994-Enero de 1995." In Arte Islámico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1994. no. 115, pp. 274-275, ill. p. 275 (color).

Ali, Wijdan. The Arab Contribution to Islamic Art : From the Seventh to the Fifteenth Centuries. Jordan: The Royal Society of Fine Arts, Jordan, 1999. p. 109, ill. fig. 61 (b/w).

"Rise and Fall of Empires." In Ibn Khaldun: The Mediterranean in the 14th Century. Vol. vols. I & 2. Seville, SPain: Real Alcazar, Seville, 2006. vol. 2, pp. 160-161, ill. p. 161 (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 48, pp. 56, 81-82, ill. p. 81 (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, and Claire Moore, ed. "A Resource for Educators." In Art of the Islamic World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. pp. 82-83, 118-119, ill. pls. 13, 22.

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