Textile fragment, possibly from a scarf or turban cover

Details

  • Catalogue text

    A long strip of fabric is embroidered with bands at both ends, showing diamonds, S-shapes, and crosses.

    There are rolled hems along both sides of the fabric, a selvedge at one of the short ends, and remains of another rolled hem at the opposite short end. The long strip is sewn together from two pieces with a flat run-and-fell seam. While most bands go from one long side to the other, there are two small rectangles that do not, and are embroidered as though for a sampler. It is unlikely that the cloth was a sampler, though, because of its length. It may have been used as sash or turban cover.

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

    At first glance this long band of linen with embroidered ends appears to be a scarf but a closer look reveals its function was that of a sampler. Incredibly, no less than eleven different patterns are recorded on it, ranging from relatively simple narrow ones, approximately 2cm wide, to the most elaborate one that measures 3.5cm. Its survival is important because it has enabled us to understand that fragments in the collection of approximately the same width with embroidered ends were from scarves or girdles. Whether they were intended to go around the neck or waist is more difficult to determine; perhaps they were interchangeable. Both long stole-like scarves and girdles knotted at the waist were worn by Mamluk figures as depicted in 15th century Venetian paintings. Complete examples are very rare but judging from the many surviving embroidered ends, they were worn over a long period and worked in different styles of embroidery using a variety of stitches.

    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. 21 on p. 36, p. 54, illus. p. 37

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

Reference URL

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