Collections: Arts of the Islamic World: Tiraz Fragment of Caliph Marwan II

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    Tiraz Fragment of Caliph Marwan II

    From the earliest period after the emergence of Islam, textiles were among the most economically and artistically significant material objects. One important type of textile is known as tiraz, a word of Persian origin that means "embroidery" and which later referred to the workshops in which these cloths were made. Tiraz textiles were produced for the ruler to offer to favored individuals as honorary gifts, and often contain inscriptions that include the ruler's name and the date of manufacture.

    This extraordinary silk tiraz fragment belongs to a group of fragments that together make up the earliest dateable Islamic textile. When placed together, the fragments' inscription, seen along the upper register of the Brooklyn fragment in yellow silk, reads: "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]." Although there were two rulers named Marwan during the reign of the Umayyads (661–750), the earliest Islamic dynasty, the textile is ascribed to Marwan II (reigned 744–750), since Marwan I ruled for only about a year and had no known associations with tiraz textiles.

    A collaborative study of this group of textile fragments, now dispersed in various collections across the world, was supported by the government of Tunisia and the Brooklyn Museum in 1997.

    • Medium: Silk, compound twill weave
    • Place Made: Tunisia
    • Dates: late 7th-8th century
    • Dynasty: Umayyad Dynasty
    • Period: Umayyad Period
    • Dimensions: 3 1/2 x 4 in. (8.9 x 10.2 cm) Frame: 1 9/16 x 12 5/16 x 16 13/16 in. (4 x 31.2 x 42.7 cm)  (show scale)
    • Inscriptions: In Arabic, reconstruction of inscription from multiple fragments of same textile: "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." [From Journey Through Asia catalogue] Brooklyn Museum fragment includes "[faithful], what was ordered [to be made by] [or al-Z]." [From Byzantium and Islam catalogue] For text in Arabic, please see object file.
    • Collections:Arts of the Islamic World
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Accession Number: 41.1265
    • Credit Line: Gift of Pratt Institute
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Tiraz Fragment of Caliph Marwan II, late 7th-8th century. Silk, compound twill weave, 3 1/2 x 4 in. (8.9 x 10.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Pratt Institute, 41.1265. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: overall, 41.1265_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
    • Catalogue Description: Red silk twill weave border with pattern in green and yellow on red background. Incomplete Arabic inscription with the name Umayyad Caliph Marwan II embroidered in yellow silk.
    • Record Completeness: Best (87%)
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