Textile fragment with diamond-shaped medallions containing a pseudo-Kufic word

Details

  • Catalogue text

    Three diamond-shaped medallions, each containing the same design of a pseudo-Kufic word possibly from al-mulk 'the kingdom'.

    In: Barnes, Ruth and Marianne Ellis, ‘The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries’, 4 vols, 2001, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum

    The repeating motifs embroidered on this fragment have been arranged in offset rows which was a common way of creating all-over patterns on Mamluk textiles; these were sometimes worked in two colours, generally blue and red alternating. Beneath one, Professor Newberry pencilled in the word “health”. Evidently he thought the motif derived from the word al- 'âfiya (Arabic for good health, well-being) based on kufic letters repeated in mirror-image fashion. The motif appears in slightly different forms on several of the Newberry embroideries from the Mamluk period prompting the thought that the device was viewed as a protective or ‘good luck' symbol. However, it has also been suggested that it may have been derived from the word "Allah" and over time lost its significance.

    This motif is particularly interesting because it provides more evidence that designs in early European pattern books were influenced by Mamluk textiles. A similar image was published in Schönsperger's pattern book, Modelbuch, of 1524 [illustrated in publication].

    In: Ellis, Marianne, Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, in association with Greenville: Curious Works Press, 2001)

Further reading

Ellis, Marianne, Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, in association with Greenville: Curious Works Press, 2001), no. 18 on p. 32, pp. 8 & 34, illus. p. 33

Barnes, Ruth and Marianne Ellis, ‘The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries’, 4 vols, 2001, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, p. 37 (vol. iv), vol. iv p. 37

Reference URL

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