Textile fragment from a trouser leg

Details

  • Catalogue text

    Diagonal bands with S-shapes and small squares, alternating in colour between blue and medium brown; in addition there is a pair of very narrow bands, one blue, one brown, made up from two single lines, but following the same diagonal. The bands have a border with brown triangles and stylized plants at the top, and a wider border with chevrons at the bottom. The embroidery fills the background.

    The fragment belonged to a garment, probably trousers. A seam along two sides and a hem at the base suggest the shape of pantaloon bottoms.

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

    The shape of this fragment suggests that it is from the lower end of a trouser leg that narrowed towards the ankle. The sides are turned in and hemmed where they curve inwards to meet a band that forms a cuff, but there is no evidence of any fastenings, so presumably they were left open at the bottom. As in some examples of Ottoman and Iranian trousers, the amount of the embroidery was decided by the length of the over-garment because only the parts that would show were decorated. The diagonal stripes are filled with a repeating pattern of S-shapes and tiny squares. Geometric S-shapes feature on one of the diagonal bands recorded on a sampler, No.13 [EAEA1984.495], but here they are in reserve against pattern-darned backgrounds worked in red and blue silk alternately. Many patterns based on S- and Z-shapes and worked in counted stitches appear on Mamluk embroidery throughout the period. Some are simple repeating patterns as seen here, and others are intricate, involving the use of several different stitches including openwork. Eventually S- and Z-shaped motifs became part of the European design vocabulary as, for instance, those seen in 16th century pattern books, Spanish, German, Italian and Dutch embroideries of the 16th and 17th centuries and included in band patterns on 17th century English samplers.

    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. 20 on p. 35, illus. p. 35

Barnes, Ruth and Marianne Ellis, ‘The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries’, 4 vols, 2001, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, vol. iii, vol. i p. 15, vol. i

Reference URL

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