Item originally listed on Christie's website. No longer available. Current owner unknown.
Original Christie's write up:
"A MAMLUK WEFT-FACED SILK WOVEN FRAGMENT
EGYPT?, 14TH CENTURY
A MAMLUK WEFT-FACED SILK WOVEN FRAGMENT
EGYPT, 14TH CENTURY (CHECK THIS)
The simple woven linen ground woven in brilliantly coloured silks with a lattice of raspberry-pink, indigo, medium blue and lemon-yellow lozenges containing smaller coloured
panels, divided by brown lines linking small ivory lozenges, various associated small tassles, original loom width, mounted on board 4 3/8 x 7Ωin. (11 x 19cm.)
Maurice Nahmann Collection, reputedly from Fostat
Probably a bag face, particularly in view of the traces of original selvage each side. The vivid colours and associated tassels resemble those of a delightful Mamluk silk
applied patchwork bag with linen lining and embroidered with various colours, (Ashmolean Museum, no. 66, in Marianne Ellis, Embroideries and samplers from Islamic Egypt, Oxford, 2001, p.94)."
- This does not seem to be weft-faced weaving. Upper left the ground fabric can be seen, with the distinctive bunching of threads usual to brick stitch. In addition, an examination of the worn areas of the silk support this.
- Moreover, the description above is inconsistent: It talks about "original selvage" to the sides,but weft-faced weaving would then have the "stitches" worked horizontally.
- This was obviously a bag of some sort, the fragment now opened back up, you can see the line of tassels across the middle, matching the ones on the sides; and the damage on the left side mirrors above and below the horizontal wear line that was the fold.
- This is identified as a Mamluk bag, but aside from the bright colors and geometric design, it does not look like other extant examples, and uses a different technique.
- On the other hand, the motifs are of a different style than I've seen elsewhere: non-symmetrical pieces, use of ground division and color arrangement are odd.
I have not found any examples of this kind of work from Egypt, and an examination of imagery of Mamluk textiles does not turn up similar decoration.
Assessment: From Western Europe, late 14th - early 15th century. Possibly arrived in Egypt in the possession of a traveler, or as trade goods. Church mission?
Fabric count: ~36 threads per inch (computed from photograph and given dimensions)
The original listing is gone but a version can be seen at http://www.azerbaijanrugs.com/mamluk/mamluk_flatwoven_silk_carpet_fragment_14th_century.htm
I have imagery and a PDF of the original page, if desired.