Linen, loosely woven, with silk design in tapestry weave; 23.2 x 55.9 in. (59 x 142 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1971 (1971.151)
Soon after the advent of Islam, tiraz came to refer both to garments with inscriptions and to the workshops where these garments were manufactured. The word tiraz derives from the Persian word for "embroidery". The tradition of state textile factories had roots in pre-Islamic Iran and the Byzantine empire, but the Arabs expanded and utilized the system to the greatest extent. The production of tiraz cloth was the official responsibility of a major government department and the issuing of tiraz became a royal prerogative such as the minting of coins.
The epigraphic decoration of this work retains the style of tiraz woven in cAbbasid workshops, which were taken over by the Fatimids when they established themselves in Egypt in 969. The two opposed bands of Arabic inscription in kufic script read: "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. There is no God except God. [Assistance] to the servant of God and his representative, Nizar Abu al-Mansur, the Imam al-cAziz billah, Commander of the Faithful. God's benedictions upon him. From what has been ordered to be made in the state-run factory at Tinnis in the year 373. Best wishes."