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.

A textile with chevrons

This textile was made in Egypt between the 10th-15th century C.E. It is 21.5 cm long and 19 cm wide(the embroidery is 13 cm). It is linen embroidered in blue flax. The textile is in the Ashmolean Museum Accession number EA1984.539.

I have charted it up. It is available for download as a pdf-
ashmoleanzigzag (PDF)
Instead of asking how everyone else finds the chart, I did a handkerchief as a gift to Their Majesties Rowland and Tailltiu.
Have fun!

New exhibition at the Aga Khan Museum

The Aga Khan Museum is currently having an exhibition called “The World of the Fatimids”. Running from March 10th to July 2nd.

One of the highlight pieces is this horn-
This horn is elephant ivory, carved in the 11th to 12th centuries in Fatimid ruled Sicily. It is carved with hunting scenes of mythical and real animals, which reflected the horn being used is hunting.The silver was later added in England during the 17th century. More information is available at the Aga Khan Museum website.

Aruzziyya

In my Barony a Cooks’ Guild meeting was held. Having just gotten Nawal Nasrallah’s most recent book Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table (available from Brill Publishing) I thought to try a recipe that had caught my eye.

In the “miscellany of dishes” chapter (the largest in the book) recipe 85 reads-

You need meat, rice, black pepper, coriander, and dill (shabath).
Boil the meat, [take it out of the broth] and brown it. Pound the fat solids attached to it, and return them to the meat.
Pound black pepper and coriander with some meat and a bit of rice, and shape into meatballs (mudaqqaqa). After the rest of the meat brown [as mentioned above], pour it’s broth [back] on it. Add the meatballs, and let them cook until done.
Wash some rice, and add it to the pot along with a bit of dill, [and let them cook] and simmer gently and serve.

Ingredients-
800g minced beef
Bunch of coriander and dill
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried and ground coriander
1 & 1/4 cups Basmati rice
1 litre beef stock
1 egg
1 tablespoon ghee
1 table spoon olive oil

Method-
Mix minced beef, chopped coriander and dill (roughly one cup), black pepper and ground coriander in a large bowl with the egg and 1/4 cup rice. Roll into meatballs.
Heat oil and ghee in pressure cooker pot then fry the meatballs until brown. Remove from pot. Place washed rice in oil for 1 minute, stirring. Add stock and 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill, then place meatballs back. Once simmering, put lid on & pressure cook for 15 minutes. Once finished, stir and serve.

Pros and cons-
Needed much more pepper! The ghee was too heavy to make fluffy rice but I was unable to get any sesame oil. Recommend sesame oil if anyone wishes to try. Very easy to do, and doesn’t need a pressure cooker. I just wanted to do something relatively fast. The recipe didn’t have egg mentioned, but I tried to mix it without the egg and it wouldn’t hold together. The rice in the meatballs makes a difference from adding breadcrumbs. Beef was used although most likely to have been lamb. I picked up a packet of mince with a high fat content since the rendered fat is returned to the dish in the recipe. Tasted better the next day!