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.

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!

A blackwork with quatrefoils

ashmoleanquatrefoil This Egyptian textile is plain woven linen embroidered with dark blue silk. At the top of the textile there is a rolled hem. It is 25 cm long and 24.5 cm wide. Thought to have been made between the 10th-15th century, it is possible that it is an end of a sash. The textile is in the Ashmolean Museum.

I have charted the design and it can be downloaded as a pdf-
ashmoleanquatrefoils (pdf)

Please let me know how the embroidery goes!

An interlocking zigzag embroidery

interlockingzigzagashmolean This textile is an Egyptian linen embroidered in blue flax. It is 13 cm wide and 8 cm high with a rolled hem at the top of the textile. The narrow embroidery band on the left is 0.5 cm wide and the larger embroidery is 7.7 cm wide. The embroidery was to the very edge of the textile and is in the rolled hem.
The textile is in the Ashmolean Museum. It is thought to have been made between the 10th and 15th centuries.

I have charted up the embroidery design and it can be downloaded in pdf format-
interlockingzigzag (pdf)

Let me know how it goes!

A diagonal embroidery with hooks

diagonalwithhooks This textile is an even weave linen, embroidered in dark blue cotton. It is 12.5 cm high and 11.5 cm wide and thought to have been made between the 10th and 15th centuries. It is currently in the Ashmolean Museum.

I have charted up the design, as well as attempt to embroider it. The chart is available for download in pdf format-
diagonalwithhooks PDF

Let me know how it works out!

A chequered embroidery

chequeredsquares This textile was thought to have been made between the 10th-15th centuries. The textile is a plain weave linen embroidered in dark blue silk. The chequering is done with fylfots. The textile is 21.5 cm high by 13 cm wide and is currently in the Ashmolean Museum.

The design has been charted & is available as a pdf document-
chequeredsquares (pdf)

The timeline given covers Egyptian history from the Abbasid Caliphate to the Mamluks. I personally think that the textile is Mamluk, but I am happy to be corrected. In the textile itself, only a few times are the fylfots reversed. The chart reflects this.

A 12th-14th century Egyptian tunic

ayyubidtunic This tunic was thought to have been made between 1100-1399 C.E. which covers the Fatimid and Ayyubid rulers of Egypt. The shirt is embroidered linen. Unfortunately there is no other information on the Victoria & Albert Museum website. The item is currently not being shown. Scrolling in it is possible to see that the motifs look like fish and “lollywrappers”. Both of those motifs look to be done in pattern darning with a little running stitch highlighting the seams.

The construction of the shirt is the same as the shirt previously mentioned in the post “An Egyptian Child’s tunic from the Mamluk Period”. childtunicmamluk That shirt can be found in the Ashmolean Museum.

Dancers on clothing

This is an ornamental shoulder band, made in Byzantine Egypt, in the first half of the 7th century. It is a linen base with wool tapestry weaving. It is 5.45 cm high and 60.65 cm wide, using indigo and kermes dyes. Currently in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Sorry, this is the largest picture I could find. It is two naked dancers, woven in silk. Thought to have been made in the Ummayad or Abbasid period of the 8th century, it decorated a tunic. The dimensions are 15.5cm x 14cm, the fabric is a weft-faced plain weave with inner warps. The dancers are holding pomegranates and branches. From the AMICA Library.

Both of these textiles are from Egypt.

Shajar al-Dur

One of the few women to rule in her own right in Muslim history, Shajar al-Dur was a slave who had been bought by Sultan Al-Malik as-Salih Najm al-Din Ayyub, the second last Ayyubid Sultan. It is thought she was either of Turkmen or Armenian descent. She bore al-Salih Ayyub a son, who died in infancy. She joined him when he had been ransomed in 1239 by Crusaders and when he became Sultan in 1240. During the 7th Crusade in the year 1249, the city of Damietta was attacked by Crusaders. Al-Salih raced to defend it, but died on route. Shajar al-Dur, working with Emir Fakhr ad-Din Yussuf Ben Shaykh (leader of the army and the Atabeg) and Tawashi Jamal ad-Din Muhsin (chief Eunuch of the Palace) hid the news and issued writs and instructions in his name. They feared that if the news got out, the Crusaders would attack more ferociously and the Ayyubid Empire would fall apart.

She called for her step-son, al-Malik al-Muazzam Ghayath al-Din Turanshah to come succeed his father. The Crusaders had heard of the death of the Sultan but were defeated by future Sultans Baibars, Aybak and Qalawun. Turanshah, fearing he would not have full power until Shajar was disposed of, wrote a letter to her demanding all her money and jewelry from her. She complained to the Bahri Mamluks, who became enraged and assassinated Turanshah in 1250. He was the last Ayyubid Sultan. Shajar was voted in by the Emirs of Ayyubid Egypt to become Sultana with Izz al-Din Aybak as Atabeg but this was not agreed with by the Emir of Syria.

She ruled in her own right for 3 months. However, due to extreme pressures from Syria and other Mamluk factions, she married Aybak and abdicated the throne. However, she did not give up the power. They ruled jointly for 7 years. She was his second wife, but their love story became famous. It turned to hatred when Aybak decided to get a third wife, a daughter of Badr ad-Din Lu’lu’, the Emir of al-Mousil to solidify his rule. Feeling betrayed by the man she loved and made Sultan, he was drowned in a bath. Aybak’s Mamluk faction, the Mu’iziyya, were enraged and imprisoned her. Aybak’s first wife and son had their revenge on Shajar having her being beaten to death by wooden clogs by the harem servants and her body thrown out of the citadel. Her bones were collected and then buried at the Mausoleum or Dome of Sultana Shajar al-Durr.

It is behind the the Mausoleum of Al-Sayeda Nafisa, in the old brassmakers’ district of Cairo. She is also mentioned in the epic Sirat al-Zahir Baibars, which contains both fact and fiction about Shajar. Aybak and Shajar set up the Mamluk dynasty, which successfully repelled both Crusader and Mongol incursions, before falling to the Ottoman Turks in 1516.
Shajar al-Durr: A Case of Female Sultanate in Medieval Islam by Amalia Levanoni. From Medievalists.net.
From slave to sultan: the career of Al-Manṣūr Qalāwūn and the consolidation by Linda Northrup. Via Google Books.
The Middle East: a brief history of the last 2,000 years by Bernard Lewis. Via Google Books.
God’s war: a new history of the Crusades by Christopher Tyerman. Via Google Books.
The Middle East in the Middle Ages: the early Mamluk Sultanate 1250-1382 by Robert Irwin. Via Google Books.
Eternal Egypt: Shajar al-Durr.
Eternal Egypt: Mausoleum or Dome of Sultana Shajar al-Durr.


Originally the word tiraz was Persian for embroidery. Usually a decorated border. However, over time and regions, it changed to become an embroidered border with writing. It became used by Muslims, Christian and Jews in Fatimid and Ayyubid Egypt, as early as the 10th century.

A 10th century tiraz band at the LA County Museum of Art

There are many fragments surviving, unfortunately not as whole garments. It was thought that the tiraz had been passed down from family member to family member, cut away from the garment not only in period but in later times when found in an archaeological dig.

The detail of a tiraz from the 10th century to be found in the Ashmolean.

The legible ones normally have blessings from Allah and Mohammed, as well as the names of the Caliph and the person who it has been gifted to by the Caliph. Considered a great honour to be gifted a tiraz by the Caliph, the embroidery is always done in silk but on a linen/flax material. The stitched used are cross stitch, split stitch, running stitch and chain stitch.

The special robes were given out twice a year, while the Caliph & his court required it all the time. The tiraz maker had a private sewing factory for the Caliph and a public factory where commissions were made for the middle class. One of the most famous pieces of tiraz is on Roger II of Sicily’s coronation cloak (see previous post). The most famous tiraz factories in Fatimid Egypt were in Damietta, Tanis, Alexandria, Shata and Damiq.

Literary Reading-Textile Fragment Attributed to Imam al-Aziz.
Literary Reading- Fragment of Robe Attributed to Imam al-Mustansir.
The British Museum- Tiraz Fragment.
The Institue of Ismaili Studies- Tiraz textile.
Museum with No Frontiers- The Fatimids.
Cariadoc’s Miscellany- Notes on Islamic Clothing. No illustrations.
Medieval Middle Eastern Embroidery Gallery- by Mathilde Eschenbach.
Medieval Islamic Civilization V2- by Jere L. Bacharach. This is a preview through Google books.