Textile with Foliated Scrolls

Not on view

Made in either the thirteenth or fourteenth century, this fragment emulates notable characteristics in technique and ornamentation of the highly popularized textile production of Western India, in the province of Gujarat, during the Middle Ages. Seen as a global commodity, these plain-woven, block-printed, cotton textiles, were known for their lightweight fabric and breathability and became highly sought-after trading goods across the Indian Ocean in areas neighboring the Red Sea, as well as places along the coast of Malacca in Southeast Asia. This textile was found near Fustat, Egypt, which allowed for the preservation of its dye and fiber due to the site’s arid and dry climate.

The bold tendril design which links small medallions and six-pointed leaves recall designs found in the decorative programs of Jain painted manuscripts and architecture produced in Gujarat. The vibrant red color comes from the Indian mulberry plant, an organic material, which was commonly used in the dye practices associated to the province of Gujarat and ultimately attests to the site as a highly popular producer and processor of these vibrantly dyed textiles. This fragment demonstrates the close maritime relationship of trade and exchange between Gujarat and Egypt linked by the Red Sea during medieval times.

Textile with Foliated Scrolls, Cotton, plain weave; block-printed, mordant dyed

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