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8th Century Woven Tapestry

Woven Tapestry Fragment, 8th century; Umayyad Period, Iran or Iraq, Wool, 12 x 18 3/4 in. (30.5 x 47.6 cm)

Woven Tapestry Fragment, 8th century; Umayyad Period, Iran or Iraq, Wool, 12 x 18 3/4 in. (30.5 x 47.6 cm)

This fragment of tapestry-woven cloth demonstrates the dependence of early Islamic art on traditions that predate the advent of Islam in the Middle East. Here, the influence comes from Sasanian art in Iran. The allover repeat pattern of staggered rows of rosettes is represented, for example, on the rock reliefs of the Sasanian monument at Taq-i Bustan, dating from the late sixth or early seventh century. On the basis of inscriptions on two closely related textiles, the Museum’s piece can be dated to the reign of the Umayyad caliph Marwan II (r. 744–49). It is possible that the green ground area with the rows of rosettes was part of a central field zone and that the red ground strip, which preserves both edges, was the main border. In that case, the textile may have been part of a floor covering.

About the Author
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded on April 13, 1870, in the City of New York. The Museum's collection of Islamic art ranges in date from the seventh to the nineteenth century. Its nearly twelve thousand objects reflect the great diversity and range of the cultural traditions of Islam, with works from as far westward as Spain and Morocco and as far eastward as Central Asia and India. Comprising sacred and secular objects, the collection reveals the mutual influence of artistic practices such as calligraphy, and the exchange of motifs such as vegetal ornament (the arabesque) and geometric patterning in both realms.
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