Weft-faced compound twill ( samit ) in yellow and green silk
768-1893: 18 x 3 15/16 in. (45.7 x 10 cm); T.57-1936: 4 13/16 x 3 3/4 in. (12.2 x 9.5 cm)
Victoria and Albert Museum, London (783-1893; T.57-1936)
Not on view
Nineteenth-century excavations at the cemetery at Panopolis (Akhmim), a city long associated with Dionysos, yielded silks elaborately woven with classical motifs. Recent radiocarbon dating of textiles associated with the site place them between the seventh and ninth centuries, providing a sense of the continuity of styles as the region transitioned from Byzantine to Islamic rule. This band (clavus) and the nearly identical example, also from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, woven in silk to decorate tunics, displays themes popular in the Byzantine world that continued to be used into the early Islamic period. Said to have been woven at Panopolis (Akhmim), one of the finest weaving centers in Egypt, each displays men with sticks or ropes facing each other across a large tree. The men appear to be harvesters, symbolic perhaps of plenty. The matching inscriptions in Arabic indicate that the works were made under Muslim rule. Their text has not been satisfactorily translated.
Inscription: Possibly in Arabic: [Reading 1] Jesus or [Reading 2] The person who uses his left hand [Ashwal]