Early Inscribed Textiles from the Textile Museum,
Conspicuous Display of Authority

Sumru Krody

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Coffee House Club

Arabic script was the first and remains the foremost form of visual expression in Islamic art. The special attitude of Islam towards the written word, combined with the Arabic script’s adaptability, has elevated the writing to a position of supreme importance among Islamic visual arts, especially textiles. This paper will explore different experiences inscribed Islamic textiles mediated for the Muslims and Christians in the Medieval world. Using the medieval Islamic textiles in the collection of The Textile Museum, the presentation will discuss three core ideas mediated by inscribed textiles:  the experience of power through the display of legitimacy and authority, the experience of beauty in the form of a luxurious silk textile designed to be enjoyed and appreciated, and finally the experience of spirituality, in the form of a textile covered band after band with writing clearly proclaiming Islam’s fundamental creed.

Sumru Krody is the Senior Curator at the newly opened George Washington University Museum/The Textile Museum in Washington DC.