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.

Some Coptic shawls

shawl3rd4thcentshawldetail3rd4thcent This shawl is from between the 3rd and 4th century C.E. The Egyptian shawl is plain weave linen, with a tapestry weave decoration sewn on. The size of the shawl is 70 cm by 45 cm. It is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

browncopticshawl8th9thcent This shawl has been tapestry woven with wool and linen between the 8th and 9th century. It is 21.9 cm by 33 cm. It is also has Coptic script on it, as opposed to tiraz bands with Arabic. It is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

darkcopticshawl8th9thcent Also made between the 8th and 9th century, this particular shawl is wool, tapestry woven with linen decorations. There is also Coptic script. It is 33 cm high by 79.4 cm wide. It is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

copticshawl9th10thcent This shawl is much like the others- wool and linen tapestry woven with Coptic script. However by this stage there were also Arabic tiraz becoming the fashion from the Abbasid and Fatimid Empires. The shawl is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Two Seljuk Persian statues

This stucco statue is thought to be from an Iranian palace (unsure where) with similar statues found in audience chambers in palaces in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. The statue was made from the mid 11th-12th centuries out of carved, painted and gilded stucco. The height is 119.4 cm, the width 52.1 cm and the statue weighs 77.1 kg. The statue wears a crown and a large saber, so it is possible it is representative of a royal. The statue’s clothing is an embellished coat over a robe, with tiraz bands on each arm. The loose translation for the left arm is worshiper for the believers and the right arm translates to he returns/belongs to the believers. The statue is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This second statue is from the same palace complex and time period as the first statue. Also made of carved, painted and gilded stucco in the mid 11th-12th centuries, the statue is 143.5 cm high, 51.5 cm wide and weighs 198.2 kg. The statue is wearing a robe with an elaborate coat, also with tiraz bands on each arm. However, there is no translation of these. If you do know the translation or can read them, please let me know. The statue is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Recommended reading
The Art of the Seljuqs of Iran (ca. 1040–1157) from the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.
Arab Painting: Text and Image in Illustrated Arab Manuscripts by Anna Contadini. Via Google Books.
Islamic Art by Richard Ettinghausen. JStor article.
The Flowering of Seljuq Art by Richard Ettinghausen. JStor article.

Umayyad Tiraz

This textile fragment is 8.9 x 10.2 cm in size. It is a red silk twill weave, with a green and yellow border. Thought to have been made between the 7th-8th centuries, during the reign of Marwan II, the Umayyad caliph. He ruled in Damascus from 744-750 CE. This tiraz inscription, however, records the textile being made in Tunisia, or Ifriqiya. The incomplete tiraz translates to-

The servant of God, Marwan, Commander of the Faithful. Of what was ordered [to be made by] al-R. [or al-Z.] in the tiraz of Ifriqiya [Tunisia].

The textile is currently in the Brooklyn Museum.

An early Persian tiraz

Tiraz can be very useful in dating things to within a year of creation. This tiraz was made in the year 879–80 C.E. in Nishapur, Iran. It is made from a fabric known as mulham, which is silk warp and cotton (or linen) weft. The dimensions are 15.9 cm by 30.5 cm. The tiraz embroidery reads-
“[...] of the Faithful, may God [...] of what Ahmad, the brother of the Commander of the Faithful, ordered to be made in the tiraz of Nishapur, year 266 (879-880). Abu Abdallah al-Hamis (al-Tamis)”
Details of the embroidery- The stitches look to be a back stitch or a running stitch but I am happy to be corrected. The textile is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is a very good zoom function.

There is also more information in a previous post called Tiraz.
The Grove encyclopedia of Islamic art and architecture: Vol 2 by Jonathan M. Bloom and Sheila Blair. Via Google Books.
Silk Economics and Cross-Cultural Artistic Interaction: Byzantium, the Muslim World, and the Christian West by David Jacoby. JStor article.
The Silk Road in World History by Xinru Liu. Via Google Books.
Two Islamic Embroideries in Gold on “Mulham” by Dorothy G. Shepherd. JStor article.
Arab dress; a short history: from the dawn of Islam to modern times by Yedida Kalfon Stillman and Norman A. Stillman. Via Google Books.
Tiraz: Textiles and Dress with Inscriptions in Central and Southwest Asia by Margaret Anne Deppe. Via Google Docs.

Other tiraz

This first tiraz is thought to be a turban end. Made in 983-984 CE in the Caliphate of Al-‘Aziz. A detailed picture-
The piece is 49.5 cm long and 151.1 cm wide. It is made of tabby woven linen with silk tapestry ornamentation. Currently in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

This second tiraz is also thought to be a turban end made in the year 1008-9, in the Caliphate of Al- Hakim. A more detailed picture-
Another tabby linen with silk tapestry ornamentation. It is 19.1 cm long and 24.5 cm wide. Currently in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
This third tiraz band is linen tabby-weave with in-woven silk tapestry ornamentation. The tiraz was made in 1058-59, in the Caliphate of Al-Mustansir. The height of the extant is 22.25 cm and the width is 27.3 cm. Currently in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

There are many tiraz pieces in the Cleveland Museum of Art but none of them seem to have been translated. Please let me know if you have a translation or can translate!

Fatimid turban embroidery

This is an embroidered turban end with tiraz. The tiraz gives the exact date of 1031 CE (or 422 AH) during the Fatimid Caliphate of Ali al-Zahir.

The height is 29.1 cm and width is 54.6 cm, with tassels at the end. The base material is a linen tabby weave with in-woven silk tapestry ornamentation. It is currently in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Unfortunately while the tiraz can give an exact date, there is not translation of the tiraz given. Please let me know if you have one.

A tiraz veil

This is a linen veil, embroidered in silk in tapestry weave. It was made in 983, less that 20 years after the Abbasids took over Egypt. The dimensions are 59 x 142 cm, and it was made in the royal tiraz factory in Tinnis (see previous post Tiraz). It translates to-

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
There is no God except God.
[Assistance] to the servant of God and his representative, Nizar Abu al-Mansur, the Imam al-Aziz billah, Commander of the Faithful.
God’s benedictions upon him. From what has been ordered to be made in the state-run factory at Tinnis in the year 373. Best wishes.

The veil is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A tiraz challenge

This textile was found in Tinnis Egypt. It is of polished linen, embroidered with red silk. The size is 31.5 x 11 cm (length x width) with a thread count of 32 per centimetre. It was found in a burial, used as a shroud but it would not have been created for that purpose. More likely it would have been a a robe, turban cloth, shawl or sash. It is in running and slant stitches.

The textile can be found in the Ashmolean.

I have charted the tiraz and it is available for download in a pdf document. It is a very long band, so is in three lines, going right to left. This is how Arabic and Hebrew are read. The next line takes up one stitch to the left of the line on the top.

Please let me know what you you think. I would like to thank my long suffering husband for cleaning it up & making it legible.

Tiraz 901AD

It translates as- “ln the name of God. Praise be to God. The favour of God to the servant of God. Abu’l-‘Abbas, the Imam, al-Mu’tadid bi’llah, Commander of the Faithful, may God strengthen him. This is what he ordered, may God glorify him, to be made in the workshop of Tinnis, at the hands of ‘Ubaid Allah, son of Sulaiman, in the year 288


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.