A personal note

I am aware that I haven’t posted for some time, but mundane life pulled me away from much. I do have a small announcement however!

A few weeks ago Their majesties Theuderic II and Engelin II have graciously invited me to join the Order of the Laurel and I have accepted. I am now deeply in the throws of planning garb. So here are a few items that are currently inspiring my garb research.

Textile is 10-15th century C.E. Linen embroidered with brown silk, in circles, trefoils, vines, leaves, and lines. The textile can be found in the Ashmolean Museum, accession number EA1984.288.

Also 10th-15th century C.E. Linen embroidered with blue and red silk in trefoils, leaves, and arabesque vines. Found in the Ashmolean Museum accession number EA1984.66.

This textile is also from 10th-15th century. Striped silk fabric embroidered with red, blue, and yellow silk with silver wrapped thread. It is obviously a neckline from a tunic, with there also being a backing of linen. Currently to be found in the Ashmolean Museum accession number EA1988.25.

Another tunic neckline from the 10th-15th century C.E. Linen, which had been overlaid with black silk, embroidered with black, blue, green, and red silk along with silver metal thread. Decorated with triangles, diagonals, trees, and medallions with crosses. The textile can be found in the Ashmolean Museum, accession number EA1993.338.

New chart with sample of embroidery

This textile can be found in the Ashmolean Museum, Accession number EA 1984.564.

It is a ground cloth of tabby woven linen, embroidered with red and blue silk in a double running stitch. It is 26.5 cm by 7.5 cm, with a rolled and whipped stitch hem in silk. On the far right of the textile looks to be a pattern darned section, but there is not enough of the design left to see.

I have charted up the design in a pdf format-
ashmoleanzigzagswithhooks PDF

I usually ask everyone who reads this blog to try out the pattern themselves here, but this time I have tried it myself & have pictures to show off! There is a very obvious mistake, left in the middle.

The start.

Reaching the end.


Completed, with obvious mistake in the middle. Not the complete pattern, but I ran out of time.


The pattern was embroidered onto a handkerchief that was given to King Niall III and Queen Sabine I, at the William Marshal Memorial Tourney in Stormhold.

Nishapur ceramics

This pitcher had been excavated in Nishapur, Iran and thought to have been made in the 9th-10th century C.E.
It is earthenware, decorated in in poly-chromatic colours with a transparent glaze (known as a buff glaze). It is 26.7cm high. The pitcher can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number: 38.40.247.

This bowl was excavated in Nishapur, Iran but was thought to have been made in Uzbekistan in the late 10th-11th century C.E. because of the central decoration. It is also decorated with writing that translates to “Blessing, felicity, prosperity, well-being, happiness” in Arabic, which was meant for the owner of the bowl.
It was made of earthenware, white slip with polychrome slip under a transparent glaze. It has a diametre of 35.6 cm and a height of 10.8 cm. The bowl is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Accession Number: 40.170.15.

Recommended reading
CERAMICS xiv. The Islamic Period, 11th-15th centuries by Ernst J. Grube. Via Encyclopaedia Iranica.

“Islamic Pottery: A Brief History” by Marilyn Jenkins.

Early Islamic lustre from Egypt, Syria and Iran (10th to 13th century AD) by T. Pradell, J. Molera, A.D. Smith, and M.S. Tite.

Nishapur: Pottery of the Early Islamic Period by Wilkinson, Charles K.

The Glazed Pottery of Nishapur and Samarkand by Wilkinson, Charles K.

Cloud collar!

Sorry for not posting this sooner, but mundane life has been distracting me from the pure research. So I thought to get everything rolling by posting the product of previous research. Having done research into Persian cloud collars in 2015 (the post can be read at “My own Persian cloud collar research”) and having commissioned two Persian Timurid coats through my friend at Mikhaila’s Unmentionables, I finally followed through with embroidery plans.

I decided to do a collar that sat proud of the coat, but was attached at the neck. First step is to create a template.

The third template design, which can be done up & go around the neck.


Having settled on the template, I used two layers of silk and linen which would eventually be lined with white linen.

This is two layers, sewn quickly together and marked out with a soluble pen.


The design itself is quite complex scrolling. The stitch I chose to work in Au ver a Soie indigo silk thread was stem stitch. I eventually regretted this choice, as it was painful on the hands.

This stage took quite a while to get to. I had given myself a deadline of 12th Night.


The final result-

The collar the night before the event. Still damp from preparations.


I entered it into the Lochac Arts & Sciences competition with the topic of “from the Middle East”. I won!

A gift given

Now that the recipient has gotten their gift (and seems to be enjoying it), I can share pictures of a project that took up quite a bit of time.


The Worshipful Company of Broderers in the Kingdom of Lochac has a tradition that the Guild makes a gift to each reigning set of monarchs. It is the choice of those that have reigned what they would like to receive. I volunteered to do a towel, in pattern darning stitch.

Done on linen with au Ver a Soie silk, it is embroidered at both ends.

This piece has been graded as my second Masterwork for the Guild.

My documentation- wcob gift documentation

A Sogdiana roundel


This textile was from either Eastern Iran or Sogdiana. Dated to the 8th-9th century C.E., it is a woven silk with the dimensions of 34cm by 44 cm. Seam visible on right of textile. Currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, although not currently on view.

Very similar roundel to previously posted Sogdian textiles in the post An early period Sogdiana coat.

Recommended reading
Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color by Elena Phipps. Met publications, 2010. PDF available for download through link.

Costume of the Samarkand Region of Sogdiana between the 2nd/lst Century BCE and the 4th Century CE by Fiona Kidd. Bulletin of the Asia Institute, 2003, page 35-69. Available through Academia.edu.

Ritual and Identity in Sogdiana by Melinda Niekum. Via Academia.edu.

A textile in the V&A

This textile was made in Egypt between 1250 and 1500 C.E. It is linen, embroidered with red silk in two distinct patterns. It is 14 cm by 19 cm. There are two rolled hems on the left and right sides. It is thought that it is a possible scarf or girdle. The textile is in the V&A Museum, Accession number 804-1898. The embroidery at the bottom of the textile is almost the same design as a textile in the Ashmolean, which can be read about in a previous post “A new embroidery chart with chevrons and diamond shapes”.

I have charted the top design. It is available as a pdf.
vandazigzags PDF

Let me know how you find it!

A digestive of lemon and quince

Recently I had been given Nawal Nasrallah’s recent translation of 14th century Egyptian cookbook “Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table” or Kanz al-fawāʾid fī tanwīʿ al-mawāʾid. I thought to try out a few of the recipes for digestives, although there is only one included in this post. From page 252, recipe number 353, Sharab laymun safarjali (concentrated syrup for lemon-quince drink).

Take a quince, peel it, cut into pieces, and remove the seeds. Boil it in water until it softens and is half cooked. Put the quince aside, and keep the boiling liquid.
Dissolve sugar in the water and boil it until it thickens. Throw in the reserved liquid in which the quince was boiled, and resume boiling it until the syrup is thick enough. Throw in the [boiled] quince and bring it to the boil once or twice, and then remove it. Squeeze one or two lemons on it, and scent it with rosewater.

My redaction-
3 quinces (peeled, cored and chopped)
5 cups water
2 & 1/2 cups raw sugar
2 lemons
3 tablespoons rosewater

Boil the water & quince together until tender.

Remove quince, add sugar and a few strips of lemon peel from the lemons. Boil until half reduced.

While reducing liquid, squeeze two lemons and strain to remove pips.

After liquid has reduced, remove peel and return quinces to pot.

After fruit has fallen apart, mash/blitz with blender. Add lemon juice and rosewater. Strain into jars.

A pilgrim’s flask

This flask is made from blue hand blown glass, with a stopper covered in fabric and attached by a cord to the flask’s fabric case.
The flask’s fabric case is made from linen, embroidered with blue flax and done in pulled thread work.
As seen, the stitches also involve a stitch known as a dove’s eye. The bag was also stuffed with vegetable fibres, possibly for insulation. The size (including the bag) is 13.5cm height with 11 width and 1.5 cm depth.

The pilgrim’s flask in currently in the Ashmolean Museum and thought to have been made between 14th and 15th Century C.E.

Women’s garb in the Maqâmât of al-Ḥarîrî

All images taken from one manuscript of the Bibliothèque nationale de France’s copy of the Les Maqâmât d’Aboû Moḥammad al-Qâsim ibn ʿAlî al-Ḥarîrî, known as manuscript Arabe 3929. The Maqâmât (or “Assemblies”) are 50 stories, written in the mid 13th century C.E. in northern Syria. The prose is written in the style known as saj’, meant to be learnt by rote and recited to others by heart.

This image of of the hero of the story Abu Zayd (on the right of the image) and his wife. This is Image f40 in the manuscript.

This image is Abu Zayd and his wife being arrested. Taken from Image f49 in the manuscript.

Abu Zayd appearing as an old woman. Taken from Image f85 in the manuscript.

Another picture of Abu Zayd as an old woman. Taken from Image f88 in the manuscript.

Abu Zayd appearing before the Kadi. The picture is taken from Image f279 in the manuscript.

The Kadi dispensing justice to Abu Zayd and his wife. Taken from Image f285 in the manuscript.

This is the slave of Abu Zayd. Taken from Image f313 from the manuscript.

Recommended Reading

Medieval Sourcebook: Al Hariri of Basrah by Paul Halsall. The first 12 Assemblies.

LibriVox- Excerpts from the Makamat. Public domain audiobook.

Orality, writing and the image in the Maqamat: Arabic illustrated books in context by Alain F. George. Via Academia.edu.

In Pursuit of Shadows: Al-Hariri’s Maqāmāt by David J. Roxburgh. First printed in Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Cultures of the Islamic World 30 (2013): 171-212. Via Archnet.

Arab Dress: From the dawn of Islam to modern times by Yedida Stillman. Via the Internet Archive.