Feb 21, 2007
Mar 27, 2009

Fragment with peacocks and inscription

Fragment with peacocks and inscription


Plain weave: silk warp and cotton weft (mulham); embroidery, couched and split stitches: silk, gilt and silver thread

Overall: 31.5 x 40.5 cm (12 3/8 x 15 15/16 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1938.300



One of the stories in "The Thousand and One Nights" is of a slave girl named Zumurud who lived in Khurasan and embroidered curtains with designs of animals and birds in colored silk and gold threads. Sumptuous embroideries such as Zumurud made were not only commissioned by rulers, caliphs, and court officials but also widely exported. Today, less than a dozen fragments of these rich embroideries survive. All are worked on "mulham," a fabric having silk warps and cotton wefts that was a speciality of Iran and Iraq. With the exception of the Cleveland Museum of Art's fragment 1952.257, which was found in Baghdad, all of the known examples were preserved until the 1900s in Egyptian graves and refuse heaps.

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