Fragmentary Cenotaph Cover with Qur'anic Calligraphy

Object Name: Tomb cover

Date: 17th–18th century

Geography: Attributed to Turkey

Medium: Silk; lampas

Dimensions: Textile: H. 38 1/4 in. (97.2 cm)
W. 26 3/4 in. (67.9 cm)
Mount: H. 42 1/16 in. (106.8 cm)
W. 30 5/8 in. (77.8 cm)
D. 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Woven

Credit Line: The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931

Accession Number: 32.100.460


Designed with a chevron pattern as the main frame for the calligraphy, this lampas-woven textile depicts Qur'anic verses and the shahada, or Muslim profession of the faith: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet.” The striking red and white color combination allows the thuluth calligraphy to stand out, while incorporating unique elements such as the finial-shaped cartouches between chevrons. This cenotaph cover would have been used as a cover for a sanduka, or coffin-shaped stone, marking the burial place of an important personage, and the chevron layout recalls the design of the kiswa covers commissioned by Ottoman sultans and sent to Mecca every year to adorn the Ka'ba.