Islamic Textile History

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Islamic Textile History : Textile Images.

Of the many diverse arts that flourished in the early Islamic period, textiles played an especially significant role in society, one that continued in subsequent periods. Textiles were ubiquitous in Islamic lands, serving as clothing, household furnishings, and portable architecture (tents). The manufacture of and trade in textiles were highly sophisticated and profitable industries that built upon Byzantine and Sasanian traditions. Often made with costly materials such as silk and gold- and silver-wrapped thread and decorated with complex designs, textiles were luxury goods signifying wealth and social status.

Islamic textiles were also widely exported to the West, where their prominence is underscored by their impact on European languages. For example, the English words "cotton" and "mohair," and "taffeta" and "seersucker," derive, respectively, from Arabic and Persian. Despite their prevalence, comparatively few textiles have survived from the early Islamic period. Textiles are inherently fragile, and because of their value Islamic fabrics in all periods were cut down and reused over and over again until they literally wore out. Many of the extant early Islamic textiles were found in Egypt, primarily in graves, where the dark and dry conditions helped to preserve them. The fragments that have survived are fabricated from cotton, linen, silk and wool, often dyed vivid colors. They demonstrate a well-developed textile technology notable for its use of complicated and richly colored designs.

One of the most common types of early Islamic textiles is decorated with a long band inscribed with the name and titles of the ruler, as well as the date and place of manufacture. Such inscribed fabrics, of which a number are preserved in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, are known as Tiraz, from the Persian word "embroidery." As this name suggests, the epigraphic decoration (rendered in Kufic script) was often finely embroidered, but the inscriptions could also be woven directly into the cloth, a technique known as tapestry-weaving.

Other types of early Islamic fabrics were also tapestry-woven, for example a fragment in the museum's collection, whose colorful decoration reflects the influence of Sasanian art. These textiles date from the eighth or ninth century and were likely produced in Egypt, where tapestry-weaving had existed since Pharaonic times. Its linen ground bears a silk decorative band of rather ungainly birds, perhaps ducks, each enclosed by a medallion. The medallions alternate with twin pairs of wings, an abstracted version of the Sasanian royal crown motif. The beaded border usually on the top and bottom is a common means of decoration in early Islamic textiles which was also inspired by Sasanian design. Although the textiles once-brilliant colors have been dimmed by time, and we can now only imagine the larger garment, wall hanging, or cushion they may've once been, it nonetheless enriches our visual perception

Definition of Islamic textiles:
Conventionally Islamic textiles focus on the works, religous or secular, produced in Egypt, Syria, Iran and Anatolia from the seventh century. Dispite the facts that Asian countries like Pakistan or Indonesia are Islamic their textile production is not considered Islamic by convention. Before Islam

Textiles were manufactured and exchanged in Iran, Egypt and the middle east much before the birth of Muhammad in the 7th century. It has been proven that there was some kind of commercial exchange between China, Egypt and the Roman Empire . Silk coming probably from China was found on an Egyptian mummy dated 1000 BC in THEBES IN 1993; The Roman poet Virgil (70-19 BCE) refered to Chinese Silk in the Georgics, versus 121, book2. Textile technologies were transmitted from the Far East through the multiple conflicts and tribal wars as hostages with their knowldge moved and transmitted their know-how from one area to another....
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