Fragment of woven linen
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Royal Museum, National Museums of Scotland (NMS)
Hegira, late 5th–early 6th century / AD 12th century
Woven linen and silk.
Height: 16 cm, width: 19 cm
A fragment with two superposed decorative bands separated from each other by an area of plain weave. Both bands are identical in design: guilloches rendered in a yellowish gold colour, set against a blue background. The central areas of the guilloche’s loops have light-coloured palmette-leaves in them, which are set against either a red or black background. The guilloche band of is flanked above and below by two red stripes, each containing a light-coloured kufic inscription enhanced by regularly disposed, gold-coloured scrolling motifs; the outer borders of these are formed by a system of interlocking wave-like designs. The inscription has been deciphered as: ‘victory comes from God’. Akhmim in Egypt lies on the east bank of the River Nile. The linen-weaving industry was an important one there, and textiles and handicrafts are still produced in Akhmim today.View Short Description
Many Fatimid and Mamluk textiles have been found in burials around Akhmim, an important Egyptian textile centre with a famous linen-weaving industry. Interestingly, the history of Akhmim is closely linked with that of the Coptic community in Egypt and retains a sizeable Coptic population to this day.
A fragment in the Bouvier Collection in Geneva bears a close stylistic resemblance with this piece and it has been dated to the late 5th–early 6th / first half of the 12th century.
Bought from the Hilton-Price Collection, 1911.
The item was found in Akhmim, Egypt and belongs to a group of well-defined Fatimid textiles.
Tissus d'Egypte: Temoins du Monde Arabe VIIIe - XVe siecles, Collection Bouvier, Geneva, Geneva / Paris, 1993, pp.244–5, cat. no. 146 (for a similar fragment).
Ulrike Al-Khamis "Fragment of woven linen" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;uk;Mus03;5;en
Prepared by: Ulrike Al-KhamisUlrike Al-Khamis
Ulrike Al-Khamis is Principal Curator for the Middle East and South Asia at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh. She began her academic career in Germany before completing her BA (1st class Hons) in Islamic Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 1987. The same year she moved to Edinburgh, where she completed her Ph.D. thesis on “Early Islamic Bronze and Brass Ewers from the 7th to the 13th Century AD” in 1994. From 1994 to 1999 she worked as Curator of Muslim Art and Culture for Glasgow Museums and, in 1997, was one of the main instigators of the first ever Scottish Festival of Muslim Culture, SALAAM. Since 1999 she has been based at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, where she has curated several exhibitions and continues to publish aspects of the collections. In addition to her museum work she has contributed regularly to the teaching of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Edinburgh.
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: UK3 05