Lot 211
  • 211

A pair of cotton wall hangings, Egypt, circa 1900

4,000 - 5,000 GBP
7,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • cotton textile
  • 340 by 221cm.
    335 by 220cm. 
comprising two hangings, each with appliquéd cotton panels of red, light blue, dark blue, yellow, brown, black and cream, forming roundels with interlocking polygons surrounded by organic elements, surmounted by a winged sun symbol containing a scarab and two protruding cobras with a calligraphic inscription above

Catalogue Note


"It is written in air upon pages of affection"

This is the first verse of the last couplet of a qasidah attributed both to Imam Shafi’i and ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib

These two hangings combine motifs from Ancient Egypt with more modern, turn of the century stylised designs from an Islamic repertoire. The famous winged sun was associated with the solar eclipse in ancient Egyptian thought, and the two cobras, early deities, possibly the goddess Wadjet, representing divinity and royalty, in this case combined with a beetle at the centre of the sun, symbolising rebirth. 

Such hangings, which were also used as tents, played an influential role on European artists of the period, notably Henry Matisse (1869-1954) and Alexander Calder (1898-1976). For further reading on this subject, see: 'Leggere tra le righe: attraverso i papiers découpés di Matisse', In Matisse Arabesque, exhibition catalogue, Rome, Skira, 2015, pp.55-63.