A RARE MAGHRIBI GILT-METAL THREAD EMBROIDERED CURTAIN OR COVER, NORTH AFRICA, PROBABLY MOROCCO, CIRCA 17TH CENTURY
A RARE MAGHRIBI GILT-METAL THREAD EMBROIDERED CURTAIN OR COVER, NORTH AFRICA, PROBABLY MOROCCO, CIRCA 17TH CENTURY
A RARE MAGHRIBI GILT-METAL THREAD EMBROIDERED CURTAIN OR COVER, NORTH AFRICA, PROBABLY MOROCCO, CIRCA 17TH CENTURY
A RARE MAGHRIBI GILT-METAL THREAD EMBROIDERED CURTAIN OR COVER, NORTH AFRICA, PROBABLY MOROCCO, CIRCA 17TH CENTURY
A RARE MAGHRIBI GILT-METAL THREAD EMBROIDERED CURTAIN OR COVER, NORTH AFRICA, PROBABLY MOROCCO, CIRCA 17TH CENTURY
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A RARE MAGHRIBI GILT-METAL THREAD EMBROIDERED CURTAIN OR COVER, NORTH AFRICA, PROBABLY MOROCCO, CIRCA 17TH CENTURY

Estimate: 50,000 - 70,000 GBP

A RARE MAGHRIBI GILT-METAL THREAD EMBROIDERED CURTAIN OR COVER, NORTH AFRICA, PROBABLY MOROCCO, CIRCA 17TH CENTURY

Estimate: 50,000 - 70,000 GBP

Lot Sold:62,500GBP

Lot Details

Description

A RARE MAGHRIBI GILT-METAL THREAD EMBROIDERED CURTAIN OR COVER, NORTH AFRICA, PROBABLY MOROCCO, CIRCA 17TH CENTURY


of rectangular form, the black cotton ground embroidered with gilt-metal threads, the design comprised of an arched inscription band with an inner ogee arch centred on a small calligraphic roundel with starburst surround and a larger leaf-shaped cartouche below enclosing a monumental radial inscription, the spandrels with crescent-form calligraphic cartouches, the interstices with leaf scrolls, flowerheads and further inscriptions, the tapered upper section with two broad inscription bands in oblong cusped cartouches, framed by a narrow scrolling border, modern backing


embroidered section: 184 by 112cm.

on backing: 207 by 131cm. max.

Condition Report

Some of the metal threads frayed, notably horizontally, with associated retouching and two tears, the upper section with a dark stain and a horizontal crease due to folding, further horizontal creasing in centre, on modern backing with velcro band to top for hanging, colours in centre remain strong and bright, as viewed.

"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

Cataloguing

Catalogue Note

inscriptions


The top cartouche: Qur'an, surah al-Tawba (IX), parts of 128 and 129. 

In the corners of the second cartouche: 'God' and 'Muhammad'

In the two roundels in the corners of the main arch: The shahada.

In the main arch: Qur'an, surah al-Baqarah (II), 260, ending with: 'The Most Supreme God told the truth'.

In the inner arch: Qur'an, surah al-Baqarah (II), parts of 137; surah Al 'Imran (III), parts of 102.

In the roundel in the inner arch: Qur'an, surah al-Saff (LXI), parts of 13.

In the large cartouche: Qur'an, surah al-Ikhlas, (CXII).

In the centre of the large cartouche: Qur'an, surah al-Duha (XCIII), 5.

In the border around the central cartouche, the upper part: A couplet from al-Busiri's Qasida al-Burda.

The lower part, suggested reading:

A mulay ya idris ibn nabiyyana wa malja' hadha al-qutr fi'l-'usr wa'l-yusr / taka (?) nafsi bi-burd sawarif atayni 'ala talf li-marrat tughashshani 'ala furan

In the leaf-shaped cartouches: Invocations to God.


This beautiful textile is a rare survival belonging to a small corpus of Maghribi textiles produced in North Africa, probably Morocco, for Mecca or with a connection to the Hajj, perhaps as early as the seventeenth century.


The reference to Idris in part of the inscription could be an allusion to Idris ibn Abdullah, or Idris I (reigned 789-791 AD), the great grandson of the second imam Hasan, son of 'Ali, and grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Idris ibn Abdullah escaped the rule of the Abbasids in 786 AD and took refuge in North Africa where he established the rule of the Idrisid dynasty in present-day Morocco. This would confirm that the curtain is of Moroccan manufacture and that the person who commissioned it was consciously alluding to an illustrious predecessor who had a direct link to the family of The Prophet.


There are further clues to the function of the curtain. The tapered upper section and fabric dimensions are an exact match to a group of curtains made for Maqam Ibrahim at Mecca. Prior to 1940, when Maqam Ibrahim was rebuilt, the shrine had a distinctive sloping top and all curtains made to cover the structure reflected its truncated pyramidal form (see Ibraham Rafa'at, Marat al-Haramein, Part 1, Cairo, A.H. 1344, pl.53). Furthermore, the inclusion of surah al-Baqarah (II), verse 260, in the main arch, which refers to the Prophet Ibrahim, is typical of verses found on 'part one' or 'side one' curtains made for the four-sided shrine and provides further evidence that this textile was destined for Mecca (see Ibrahim Helmi, Kiswat al-ka'aba al-musharrafah wa funoun al-Hijjaj, Cairo, 1991). Other verses, such as qasida al-burda, are atypical.


A shrine cover belonging to the same workshop was sold at Christie's London, 27 April 2017, lot 50. Attributed to seventeenth-century North Africa, it was accompanied by a C14 test result with a 95% confidence range between the dates 1492 to 1603, plus 1615 to 1663 and a 68% result between 1522 to 1574 plus 1627 to 1651, further confirming the dating of the present example. 


For further information on this group, please see M. Ali de-Unzaga, ‘North African Textiles, an Overview,’ ‘Moroccan Textiles,’ and ‘Tunisian textiles,African Textiles: The Karun Thakar Collection, London: Hali, 2015, pp.275-283; 285-319; 320-357.

Arts of the Islamic World
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