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.

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