Fragment of the So-Called Marwan Tiraz
Made in Eastern Mediterranean or Central Asia
Weft-faced compound twill weave (samit) in polychrome silk; inscription embroidered in yellow silk in Ifriqiya (modern Tunisia)
5 1/2 x 5 1/4 in. (14 x 13.3 cm)
The Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester (T.8496)
Not on view
The silk fragments from the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) the Brooklyn Museum (New York), and The Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester (Manchester) united in the exhibition are arguably the earliest surviving example of a tiraz, a traditional Islamic textile inscribed with the name of the caliph and often the site and date of manufacture. They were frequently used as honorific gifts. The surviving portions of the inscription embroidered in Arabic identify "Marwan commander of the [faithful]" and the "tiraz of Ifriqiya." The ruler is generally agreed to be Marwan II (r. 744–50). "Ifriqiya" situates the textile in the province of North Africa shortly after the arrival of Islam in that region of the Byzantine Empire. The silk’s pattern draws on Sasanian and Central Asian forms long popular in the eastern Mediterranean. Recent analysis of the dyes used in its production have not yielded a more definite site of production.