Exhibitions/ Art Object

Three Fragments of a Tiraz Inscribed with the Name of the Caliph Marwan

8th century
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)
T.13-1960: 8 7/16 x 6 in. (21.5 x 15.2 cm); 1314-1888: 11 15/16 x 19 15/16 in. (30.3 x 50.7 cm); 1385-1888: 2 3/16 x 17 11/16 in. (5.5 x 45 cm)
Credit Line:
Victoria and Albert Museum, London (1314-1888, 1385-1888) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, given by the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (T.13-1960)
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.
Inscription: In Arabic: [the servant of] God Marwan commander of the [faithful] . . . in the tiraz of Ifriqiya )
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.