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Textile Fragment with Hunting Scene

Object Name:
8th century
Egypt or Syria
Silk; samite
Textile: H. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm) W. 6 3/4 in. (17.1 cm) Mount: H. 13 3/4 in. (34.9 cm) W. 10 1/4 in. (26 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1951
Accession Number:
Not on view
This silk fragment depicts a mounted hunter aiming at a leaping panther in an oval roundel with scrolling vegetation. It is closely related to early Byzantine examples woven in Egypt. The motif of hunters on horseback with bows and arrows originates in Sasanian Iran but made its way into Byzantine heraldry, where it was adapted and classicized. The inclusion of an Arabic inscription (the bismillah) places it securely in the early Islamic period. This is a testament to the longevity of the motif and the synthesis of pre-Islamic designs in the early Islamic period.
Inscription: Above the heads of the figures is an inscription in kufic, the bismillah.
[ Charles Dikran Kelekian, New York, until 1951; sold to MMA]
James, David, and Richard Ettinghausen. Arab Painting. 3, vol. 29. New Delhi: Marg Publications, 1977. pp. 6-7, ill. pp. 6-7 (b/w).

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