Textile fragment with heraldic blazon

Details

  • Catalogue text

    A small blazon with a three-tier division; the blazon is shield-shaped. The upper and lower tier are red, the middle one yellow. The middle tier shows a red cup, the lower one a yellow rhombus, representing the 'buqja' (napkin) associated with the master of the robe.

    The measurements given above follow the weave, which is diagonal to the design. The height of the blazon is 10 cm.

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

    This is an example of a composite blazon which developed from the earlier simple ones depicting a single motif. The field has been divided into three compartments: a red chalice has been placed on the central field and a yellow diamond placed beneath. These indicate the amiral offices of the cup- bearer (saki) and the master of the robes (jamdar). Intriguingly, these Islamic devices are contained within a “kite-shaped " shield, a type of shield seen on a Fatimid 12th century drawing of a siege where both sides appear to be equipped with them. One theory is that they were introduced by the Crusader armies. The only recorded example of this particular composite blazon belonged to Amir Kumushbugha al-Hamawi from Syria, dated 1381.

    The motif is worked diagonally across the weave of the ground fabric in a slanted counted stitch. In use therefore, the blazon would have lain in a diagonal direction so its most likely position would have been on the corner of a cloth. It could have been part of a cover similar to those depicted in manuscript illustrations, in which Mamluk horsemen are seen performing military exercises on horses wearing decorated saddlecloths.

    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. 54 on p. 80, illus. p. 81

Barnes, Ruth and Marianne Ellis, ‘The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries’, 4 vols, 2001, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, vol. ii, vol. i p. 16 n. 3, vol. i

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