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Textiles have always played a central role in the arts of the Islamic world. Decorated primarily with floral, geometric, or figural designs, they were used in a variety of wayscut into sumptuous clothing; transformed into rich furnishings or movable architecture; exchanged as valuable commodities; or bestowed as tokens of honor and rank. Among the more unusual types of textiles are brocaded silksatins from Turkey. These are embellished with bold, repeat zigzagging patterns of inscriptions that identify the textile's specific function and serve as its principal form of ornament. Woven into the satin in elegant thuluth script, the inscriptions include pious invocations such as "O conqueror," or "O generous one," the shahada (profession of faith), and verse 144 of the second sura (chapter of the Koran), alBuqara (The Cow), which reads:
heavens, now shall we turn thee to a qibla
[the direction of prayer in Islam] that shall please thee.
Turn then thy face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque [Mecca].
Turkey, 17th18th century
189.5 x 67.3 cm
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art|
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