Textile fragment with interlocking hexagons and diamond-shapesOn display
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Textile fragment with interlocking hexagons and diamond-shapes
Date13th - 14th century (1201 - 1400)
Mamluk Period (1250 - 1517)
Material and technique
linen, embroidered with blue silk
Dimensions14.5 x 8.3 cm (length x width)
along length/width 22 / 22 threads/cm (thread count)
ground fabric 0.05 cm (thread diameter)
additional fibre, embroidery 0.06 cm (thread diameter)
No. of items
Presented by Professor Percy Newberry, 1941.
Museum locationLower ground floor | Gallery 5 | Textiles
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A band of linked and interlocking hexagons, each containing a diamond. The band also has a border with hook motifs.
In: Barnes, Ruth and Marianne Ellis, ‘The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries’, 4 vols, 2001, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum
Because they are worked in different stitches and colours, the two embroideries illustrated (Nos. 33 [EA1984.463], 34 [EA1984.272]) look very different. However, they share the same geometric pattern, and only differ in the details within the diamond shapes. The basic unit is a Y-shape arranged in offset rows like the Y-fret patterns that decorate 14th century Mamluk Egyptian and Syrian metal basins and trays. The design appears on a tunic worn by a Mamluk courtier on the basin known as the Baptistère of St. Louis, now in the Louvre, Paris. To create the pattern on these embroidered fragments, every alternate row of the Y shapes has been omitted, resulting in the formation of diamond shapes within elongated hexagons. The pieces provide an interesting comparison between the effects produced by using different embroidery stitches. This one is worked in pattern darning in running stitch that is so similar in appearance to weaving with a supplementary weft. The result is pleasing but does not exploit fully the freedom offered by needle and thread. The stitch was much used on Islamic medieval textiles judging from the large proportion of the Newberry embroideries worked in it.
In: Ellis, Marianne, Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, in association with Greenville: Curious Works Press, 2001)
Ellis, Marianne, Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, in association with Greenville: Curious Works Press, 2001), no. 33 on p. 51, p. 52, illus. p. 51
Barnes, Ruth and Marianne Ellis, ‘The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries’, 4 vols, 2001, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, vol. iii, vol. i