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Tiraz Fragment of Caliph Marwan II

Arts of the Islamic World

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]...al-R [or al-Z]." [From Byzantium and Islam catalogue] For text in Arabic, please see object file.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 41.1265
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Pratt Institute
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    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
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    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 (85%)
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