Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Tabs from a banner with fleur-de-lys, blazon, and trefoils


    • currently in research collection

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.


Publications online

  • The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries by Ruth Barnes and Marianne Ellis

    The Newberry Collection of Islamic Embroideries

    Two large tabs, both with dark blue embroidery outlining a design. The left tab has a fleur-de-lys and a blazon showing the napkin ('buqja') of the master of the robes ('jamdar'); the right tab has three trefoils, one set inside the other.

    The tabs were suspended from needle woven warp threads. They were made up from two layers of fabric, one of which (on the reverse) has deteriorated except where the embroidery stitches have kept it in place.

    The tabs have been radiocarbon dated to 1338 AD +/- 35.
  • Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt by Marianne Ellis

    Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt

    Other examples of five-sided 'tabs' in the Newberry collection are single fragments that reveal no information about their original function. Fortunately these two are still attached to a continuous band of openwork, showing that they were part of a long edging or fringe, most likely around a canopy or tent. The 14th century North African historian and philosopher Ibn Khaldun refers to tents and canopies as "emblems of royal authority" and reports that they were used for display on journeys. The amirs too would have followed this practice, and the small diamond shape within a circle embroidered on the left tab was the blazon of the master of the robes, indicating that its owner held this important office of state. An illustration from a 1237 manuscript of The Assemblies of al-Hariri depicts a horseman waiting to take part in a parade: he is holding a tall narrow banner that towers above his companions with no less than twenty tabs hanging along its lower edge.

    This embroidery is one of a category in the collection worked in stem and split stitches in simple linear designs. An extra strip of linen has been inserted between the top of the tabs and the cloth above. After withdrawing the weft threads the worker used needleweaving to create a lattice pattern.

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