A textile with a diagonal grid embroidery

ashmoleandiagonalgrid This textile was thought to have been made between the 10th-15th century C.E. in Egypt. It is 23 long and 20 cm wide. The textile is linen embroidered with blue silk in a double running stitch. There is a visible rolled hem on the bottom left of the textile, which had been sewn with flax.

The textile is made up of two pieces of linen sewn together using flax in a flat seam. The textile is currently in the Ashmolean Museum.

I have charted up the embroidery for use. It is in pdf format.

ashmoleandiagonalgrid (pdf)

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.

Umayyad Andalusian jewelry

These items of jewelry (including coins) were found in Murcia, Spain in a coin hoard. They are dated to the Umayyad period or 756–1031 C.E. This particular group was thought to have been made between 929-1010 C.E.

This is thought to have been part of a necklace, made of gilded silver and copper. With a diameter of 9.2 cm and depth: 1.5 cm, it is decorated with bosses and stamped with filigree.

This open filigree rosette is 2.8 cm high, 2.8 cm wide with a depth of 0.55 cm.

This Magen David or Star of David is gilded silver with filigree decorations. The diameter is 3.3 cm.

Also thought to have been part of a necklace, this necklace is made of gilded copper and silver with glass, coral and carnelian beads.

These are silver gilt filigree plaques possibly from a girdle. They have been set with glass, although four of the settings are missing. There are four square and three circular plaques, set alternatively with a height of 3.2 cm, width of 6.8 cm and depth of 0.6 cm.

This necklace is made of gilded silver filigree and pearls. The diameter is 10.5 cm and width of 0.5 cm with what looks like fresh water pearls.

This engraved gold sheet with filigree was also thought to be part of a girdle. The height is 4 cm, width: 21.1 cm and depth: 0.2 cm.

These earrings are gold with filigree rosettes with the largest earring having a height of 4.3 cm, width of 4 cm and depth: 1.7 cm. The smaller earring has a height of 4.2 cm, width of 3.8 cm and depth: 1.5 cm.

These stamped silver coins come from the reign of Al-Hakam II (961-976 C.E.) and his son Hisham II (976-1008 C.E.). The coins have a diameter of 2.2 cm and depth of 0.1 cm, on average. It was thought they were pierced to be placed on a headband.

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.

Bashar Ibn Burd

Bashar Ibn Burd was born in the year 714 C.E. in the Umayyad Caliphate, in the city of Basra. During his lifetime, the Abbasids rose to power, overthrowing the Ummayads except in the Andalus.

His Grandfather had been a slave from Persia and his father a convert to Islam or Mawla, a second class citizen. Growing up the city of Basra, Bashar showed his poetic talents early but was born with a disability. He was born blind.

Clouddust of battle over their heads was like the night
And glitter flashes from the motion of our swords
Lighted the darkness like falling stars.

This poem extract talks about a battle his tribe the Uqayl tribe fought and won. However, he is best known for his court poetry, known as hijāʾ, which is also satirical. He served in the court of Caliph Al-Mahdi after the Abbasids built Baghdad to be their capital. He was told to stop writing love poetry, as it was thought to be morally lax, even licentious, as he wrote about drinking, sex and slave girls. He quickly broke the ban but it was a critical hijāʾ of Al-Mahdi which got him arrested. He was charged with heresy and zindiqism, was beaten to death and his body dumped in the Tigris river in the year 784 C.E.
Arabic Poetry on Language is a virus.com.
Looking Back-On Abbasid Poetry by Tam Hussein on Emel.com.
Lawful Magic and a Blind Arab Poet by Rachel Hajar on her blog My Life in Doha.
Arabic poetry: a primer for students by Arthur John Arberry. Via Google Books.
Appunti su Baśśār b. Burd by F. Gabrieli. JStor article in Italian.
La evolución de la poesía árabe by Adel Ghadbán. JStor article in Spanish.

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.

Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya

Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya was born in the year 717 CE in Basra, Iraq under the Umayyad Caliphate. Born into a very poor house, she was the fourth daughter. Her name literally means “the fourth”. After a plague went through Basra, killing her family, she was on a caravan when it was attacked. She was captured and sold into slavery.

However hard her master worked her, she stayed awake all night praying and fasting throughout the day. One legend has it that the master woke up in the night, hearing her. He went to look upon her but was blinded by a halo of light around her head. She was freed the next morning.

Much of her life was written about much later, by Farīd ud-Dīn ‘Attār, in the 12th century. Many of her legends originate with his story of her life. After she was freed, she lived the life of an ascetic in a desert cave. She had many disciples, and offers of marriage (which she refused).  She died in her mid-eighties, still an ascetic, in the year 801CE.
Rābiʻa was the first to put forth the idea of Divine Love, believing that you should love God for Himself, not out of fear of Hell or desire for Paradise. It was her idea of Divine Love that influenced Sufi Philosophy for centuries.

If I adore You out of fear of Hell, burn me in Hell!
If I adore you out of desire for Paradise,
Lock me out of Paradise.
But if I adore you for Yourself alone,
Do not deny to me Your eternal beauty.

Her poetry is able to read on Poet Seers and Islamic Foundation.
Sidi Muhammad Press.
Rabia al Basri– Poet Seers.
Fifty Poems of Attar by Farid Al-Din Attar. Via Google Books.
Farid ad-Din ʻAttār’s Memorial of God’s friends: lives and sayings of Sufis by Farīd al-Dīn ʻAṭṭār, Paul Losensky. Via Google Books.
Religiosity and Love Spirituality of Rabi’ah al Adawiyah Literature by DR. Muhbib Abdul Wahhab.

The Kahina

Born in the 7th century, she was born to a tribe of Berbers and lead them to resist the Islamic expansion of that century. Her name is Dihyā, Dahyā or Damiya and was called the Kahina as it was believed she could see the future. Kahina means soothsayer.

A later Islamic historian, Ibn Khaldūn say she comes from the tribe of Judaized Berbers, called the Jrāwa tribe. Although this has been argued over since.

At the time North Africa had been under the Byzantine Empire, which eventually gave way with the Islamic Conquests in the 680s. The Umayyad Caliphate eventually conquered Carthage in 698, leaving nothing but the Berbers to resist them. Damiya came from the Aures Mountains in eastern Algeria and Tunisia, known as Ifriqiya. The Umayyad General Hasān ibn an-Nu’mān al-Ghassānī, who had won the Battle of Carthage then went up against Damiya, near Meskiana. He was beaten so soundly that he retreated for five years. The Kahina then conquered Carthage herself.

The above statue is in Algeria, celebrating her reign. For five years, she held North West Africa. By this stage it is thought she was 127 years old and had three sons to three different fathers, such was her legend. Knowing that the Islamic conquerers will return, she started a “scorched earth” policy, which lost her the support of the city dwellers. Hasan returned and eventually defeated her. However, it is said that the night before the battle, the Kahina foresaw her own death. She then urged her sons to go to the Muslim conquerers & convert. Thus meaning her line would rule after she died.
The Kahina, Queen of the Berbers by Michael Klossner.
Review of Colonial Histories, Post-Colonial Memories by A. Hannoum on The Moor Next Door blog.
Studia islamica, Volume 16 edited by Robert Brunschvig. Google Books preview.
Queens in the Nile Valley on the Nubian Archive.org.
The Problem of the Judaized Berbers by H. Z. (J. W.) Hirschberg. Jstor article.
Reviewed work(s): Colonial Histories, Post-Colonial Memories: The Legend of the Kahina, a North African Heroine by Abdelmajid Hannoum by Lidwien Kapteijns. Jstor article.

Another dancer

This mural can be found in Qasr Amra, an 8th century palace in Jordan. Built by the Umayyad caliph Walid I, it has many famous frescos, of which the above is only one. It is a semi-naked courtesan dancing.

The palace is undergoing restoration, as graffiti has damaged some of the frescos.

Archnet– Qusayr ‘Amra.
UNESCO World Heritage Covention– Quseir Amra.
Illustration Gallery by Gary D. Thompson.