This textile fragment, woven in vibrantly colored silk, is ornamented with an Arabic inscription in cursive thuluth script, which reads "Glory to our lord the Sultan." This phrase was often employed in the embellishment of the arts and architecture of the Nasrid period, and many similar textiles survive today as fragments.
Silk textiles made in al-Andalus for sumptuous attire and costly furnishings were among the luxury commodities sought after by the Muslim and Christian elites on the Iberian Peninsula and far beyond its borders. Such textiles took on new lives as they were often later cut and reused for purposes such as ecclesiastic vestments.
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Date:late 14th–early 15th century
Geography:Attributed to Spain
Dimensions:Textile: L. 10 5/8 in. (27 cm) W. 21 1/4 in. (54 cm) Mount: L. 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm) W. 26 in. (66 cm) D. 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1918
This textile fragment woven in vibrantly colored silk is organized in bands. Its main decorative motif is a phrase in Arabic inscribed in cursive thuluth script of Andalusian form on the widest, central band. The laudatory inscription, repeated within the band throughout the width of the cloth, is executed in yellow thread against the red background; the finials of the letters and the spaces between them are embellished with foliate elements. Palmettes, split palmettes, and other foliations repeated in the manner of a frieze in the narrower bands echo the foliate elements in the inscribed band. Yet they also contrast effectively with that central band through the use of bright colors: yellow, cream, and red on a blue ground. The design is completed by a very narrow band with an interlace motif executed in cream color on a darker ground of the same hue.
The phrase glorifying the sultan was often employed in the embellishment of the arts and architecture of the Nasrid period, especially in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Carved in wood and stucco in the decoration of the palaces in the Alhambra, the dynastic seat of the Nasrids in Granada, it also appeared on luxury objects, especially textiles. Silk textiles made in al-Andalus for sumptuous attire and costly furnishings were among the luxury commodities sought after by the Muslim and Christian elites on the Iberian Peninsula and far beyond its borders.
Many examples of Nasrid textiles inscribed with the same phrase as this example, and similar in decoration, survive today as fragments. Their original function remains obscure, since they were cut and reused in later times. The most splendid of these fragments, which are housed today in various collections, is a pluvial (ecclesiastic vestment) preserved in the treasury of the cathedral of Burgos in Spain.
Olga Bush in [Ekhtiar, Soucek, Canby, and Haidar 2011]
1. One selvage on this fragment has been preserved.
2. Among the collections with similar fragments are the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Museo Lazaro Galdiano, Madrid; the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York; and the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence. It has been proposed that an inscription on the second, additional band on a similar fragment in the Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid, may refer to the sultan Muhammad V (r. 1354–59, 1362–91). The reference would give grounds for dating that fragment and the present one to the second half of the fourteenth century. See Partearroyo Lacaba, Cristina. "Los tejidos nazaries." In Arte islámico en Granada: Propuesta para un Museo de la Alhambra, Exhibition, Museo de La Alhambra, Granada. Catalogue by Jesus Bermudez Lopez and others. Granada, 1995, p. 126. For technical analysis of the woven structure of the fragment preserved in the Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan, see Borrego Diaz, Pilar. "Analisis tecnico del ligamento en los tejidos hispanoarabes." Bienes culturales, no. 5 [Tejidos hispanomusulmanes] (2005), pp. 75–121.
Inscription: On central band in Arabic in thuluth script, repeated:
[[السـ]ـلطان عز لمولانا السلطان الـ[ـسلطان
Glory to our lord the Sultan
[ Dikran G. Kelekian (American, born Turkey), New York, until 1918; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Balcony Calligraphy Exhibition," June 1–October 26, 2009, no catalogue.
Schimmel, Annemarie. "Islamic Calligraphy." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., vol. 50, no. 1 (Summer 1992). pp. 32, 34, ill. fig. 42 (color).
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Priscilla P. Soucek, Sheila R. Canby, and Navina Haidar, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 49, pp. 82–83, ill. (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. 66–67, ill. pl. 8 (color).
Cobaleda, Maria Marcos, ed. Artistic and Cultural Dialogues in the Late Medieval Mediterranean. Cham, Switzerland, 2021. p. 233, ill. fig. 11.2 (color).
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