probably 1800s or early 1900s
Silk: plain cloth, brocaded
Overall: 117.2 x 53.4 cm (46 1/8 x 21 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1953.320
The khamsah (خمسة), an open five-fingered hand, is a protective motif. It is woven in red in multiple ways on this panel.
This panel was part of an urban Tunisian woman’s head-covering (‘ajar). Two such panels flanked a face-obscuring black panel. Such luxurious garments of seclusion were once reserved for elites. The decorative panels draped down when worn, showing off the finely woven motifs and demonstrating the wearer’s family wealth. Arranged in bands, motifs include stylized trees (or protective hands), flowers, eight-pointed stars, and geometric designs. The mirrored Kufic (squared Arabic script) lettering in teal is likely the name of the weaver or panel owner. Weavers with Muslim Andalusian (southern Spanish) heritage originally made these, drawing from Andalusian and Turkish motifs; later, workshops in Tunis produced them.
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