The veil of Hisham II

veilofhishamii This textile, thought to have been a veil, was found in a reliquary in the Santa María del Rivero church alter. It had been wrapped around the item in the reliquary but the textile has now been restored.

It is 109 cm long and 18 cm wide base fabric of linen with the decoration a silk & linen tapestry weave. It has tiraz bands in the decoration, with the inscription of-

“In the name of god the indulgent, the merciful”

as well as-

“May divine blessing, prosperity and long life be attributed to the imam, god’s servant, Hisham, he who is the object of his benevolence, the emir of all believers.”

Tiraz detail-
The kufic tiraz talks of Hisham, a 10th-11th century Caliph that ruled Cordoba during the Umayyad era. The animals in the tapestry woven roundels are birds and cats- hishamveilroundeldetail
The textile can be seen through the Qantara website although the textile is in the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid.

Recommended reading
Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain edited Jerrilyn Dodds. Available to read online at the Internet Archive.
The Origin and Early Development of Floriated Kūfic by Adolf Grohmann. JStor article.
Material for a History of Islamic Textiles up to the Mongol Conquest by R. B. Serjeant. JStor article.
Ṭirāz Textiles from Egypt: Production, Administration and Uses of Ṭirāz Textiles from Egypt Under the Umayyad, ʻAbbāsid and Fāṭimid Dynasties by Jochen Sokoly. Phd thesis.

Possible turban cloth or sash

ashmoleanlinkedquatrefoilssash This textile was thought to have been made in Egypt between the 10th-15th century C.E. It is linen embroidered with blue silk and metal wrapped with silver. The textile also has three rolled hems with silk. It is thought to be either a sash or a turban cloth.

The textile is in the Ashmolean Museum.

I have charted up the embroidery and it is available for download as a pdf document.

ashmoleanlinkdquatrefoilssash (pdf)

Let me know how your embroidery goes.

Stuffed cookies

This is an Arts and Sciences entry into the Barony of Krae Glas’ Twilight Tourney.

A dessert served on a Constantinople table

Entry by Miriam bat Shimeon.

Based on “A recipe for stuffed cookies (halwa mahshuwwa), delicious and unusual (tarifa)”:

Take equal amounts almonds, pistachio and hazelnut. Shell them finely ground them and add equal amount of sugar. Miz and moisten the ingredients with rose water you have dissolved a lump of musk.

Make dough with fine smidh flour (high in starch and bran free), milk, sesame oil and yeast. When dough ferments, flatten portions into small discs, using a rolling pin. Line a concave mold (qalab) carved into decorative shapes (suwar al-tamathil) with a flattened disc and fill the cavity with some of the sugar nut mixture. Put another flattened disc on the filling and seal the edges. Take the cookie out of the mold [and repeat with the rest of the dough].

[Bake the cookies] by sticking them to the inner wall of the tannur. Alternatively you can arrange them in a shallow copper pan with a handle similar to that of a bucket (satl). Lower the pan into the tannur and cover its upper opening with a lid for a short while [to create moisture then remove it]. When the cookies are done, [take them out and] serve them while still hot.

You also have the choice to put some fat in the pan [before lowering it into the tannur]. When the cookies come out of the oven and while still hot, dip them in ‘asal mutaffa [purified honey in boiled water] which has been skimmed and scented with aromatic spices (mutayyab). Let the cookies absorb the syrup then take then out and arrange them on a platter. Sprinkle them with sugar and serve them. This variety (hadha al-fann) is called raghunin ratb muluki (royal moist cookies), so know this, God willing.”

This recipe comes from the Annals of the Caliph’s Kitchens as translated by Nawal Nasrallah (page 426-7). This is a translation of a 10th century cookbook called the al Baghdadi. It was written by a man named Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq with only a few manuscripts around, the most whole manuscript being a copy dated 1270 in the Topkapi Saray Museum in Istanbul.

The stuffing-
100g ground almonds
100g ground pistachios
100g ground hazelnuts
100g raw caster sugar
7ml rose water
I blitz them all together in a mixer, until they looked like fine breadcrumbs.

The dough-
3c plain flour
2 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
7g powdered yeast
2 tablespoon sesame oil
200g warm water
1 tablespoon milk

I put all these ingredients into my bread making machine on the pizza dough setting. These values are based on recommended recipes from the instruction manual. It took 2 hours to make the dough. I didn’t rest it, as the recipe states the dough is used straight away. I had a wooden mold, which had been washed and oiled with sesame oil. I then used this to form the cookies. img_0816 This is it, being oiled with sesame oil.

img_0818 This is it in the process of being stuffed. It is around one heaped teaspoon of the nut and sugar mixture.

I placed them on a tray and baked them. At the pastry setting on my oven for just over ten minutes at 200 degrees. I glazed them with melted butter as the recipe calls for a fat. img_0819

The syrup-
100ml water
100ml honey
1 teaspoon mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.

Boiled together in a pot, although most honey now has been pasteurised and therefore no need to skim. img_0820

The syrup was poured hot over the cookies, which aids the absorption. They were then sprinkled with raw caster sugar lightly.
img_0821 This is the cookies half glazed.

Things for next time
1)The dough (being yeast based) must be baked immediately. I left some waiting to be baked on the tray and they now look like scones.
2)The dough must be rolled out very thinly. Very elastic dough- it pulled back as soon as it was cut.
3)Drop the nut mixture right down. The total could be 50:50:50:50 with 2ml rosewater so less leftover.

Sorry there is no picture for the serving but they all vanished within 15 minutes! Best served hot. For this entry I won a ring from the hand of Baroness Elspeth Caerwent herself.

“Annals of the Caliph’s Kitchen” translated by Nawal Nasrallah. Brill, 2010. ISBN: 9789004188112.

A diagonal embroidery with vines and hooks

vinesandhooks This textile was made between the 10th-15th centuries in Egypt. It is linen embroidered in blue flax. The size is 38 cm by 20 cm. The item is currently in the research collection of the Ashmolean Museum.

I have charted up the design, which can be downloaded as a pdf document-
vinesandhooks (PDF)
Let me know how the embroidery goes!

More bowls from the South Australian exhibit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This bowl is from 10th-11th century Iran. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is made of earthenware with under-glaze slip decorations of the zodiac sign of Capricorn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This bowl is also from the 10th-11th century Iran. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Made from earthenware, it has under-glaze slip decoration of the zodiac sign Leo. The kiln firing caused part of the glaze to melt & blur.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This bowl was made in the 13th century in central Iran. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It is made from stone paste earthenware, with under-glaze decorations of birds and scroll work.


The bowl made made between the 10th-11th century in Iran. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It is made from stone paste earthenware with lustre glaze decorations of calligraphy and scrolled flowers.

More ceramics from the South Australian exhibit

More thanks go to Mistress ffride wlffsdotter, who has been most gently encouraging me to post these beautiful pictures she took.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This bowl is from 13th-14th century Iran.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It is stone paste earthenware with lustre decoration of three people in a garden. It is part of the Gallery’s permanent collection. The size of the bowl is 22.4 cm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This bowl is also 13th century from Iran. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The bowl is 21.4 cm, stone paste earthenware with underglaze and lustre decorations of the story of Bahram Gur. The bowl is in the permanent collection of the Gallery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This bowl is from 10th century Iran. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The bowl is earthenware with underglaze slip decorations of a “cosmic prince” a zodiac symbol of the sun.

An exhibit in South Australia

The Art Gallery of South Australia recently held an exhibit called Paradise on Earth: Flowers in the Art of Islam.

I would like to thank Mistress ffride wlffsdotter for the use of her photos and her support of the Guild!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This dish is an Ottoman 16th century iznik.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The decoration is of a hunting dog and rabbit in an earthenware glaze.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This dish is also 16th century Ottoman iznik.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The decorations are of tulips and poppies.

Jewish Pilgrimage glass

jewbyzoctbottle This is a moulded glass bottle, made between 500-650 C.E. It is octagonal in shape, 9.2 cm by 9.4 cm by 9.4 cm. It is decorated with the Jewish symbols of the menorah, the shofar, an incense shovel and the lulav. The bottle was made in Byzantine ruled Syria and was thought to have been made for Jewish pilgrims going to the Holy Land. The bottle is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

blackoctbottle This bottle also is octagonally shaped but the dimensions are 8.1 cm by 7 cm by 7.7 cm. The bottle also has been decorated with the Jewish symbols of the lulav, menorah, incense shovel and shofar. It was mold-blown glass, made between 578–636 C.E. The bottle is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

jewbyzhexjug This molded glass jug is hexagonal in shape and also decorated with the Jewish symbols mentioned above. The dimensions are 15.7 cm by 7.4 cm by 6.8 cm. The jug is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All three items were thought to have been made in the one workshop.

Recommended reading
Population, Settlement and Economy in Late Roman and Byzantine Palestine (70-641 AD) by Doron Bar. JStor article.
A Court Jew’s Silver Cup by Vivian B. Mann. Metropolitan Museum Journal.
An Empire’s New Holy Land: The Byzantine Period by S. Thomas Parker. JStor article.
Judaism During the Byzantine Period by Yitzchak Schwartz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Blog.
Religious Contacts in Byzantine Palestine by Gedaliahu G. Stroumsa. JStor article.

An embroidered Mamluk shawl

vandamamlukshawl This textile is from Egypt, made between 1250-1516 C.E. during the Mamluk Sultanate. It is a linen shawl, embroidered with silk in tree and bird motifs with tiraz at the bottom. The shawl is also tasseled. It is currently in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

I have charted it up, which can be downloaded as a pdf document-
vandamamlukshawl (pdf)

Please let me know how the chart goes!

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 29,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.