Caucasus, Possibly 18th Century
Silk, cotton, darning stitch
132 x 132 cm (52 x 52 in)
Babette and Marc Weksler Collection, Paris, France
This embroidery is difficult to date. The swastika-like motif of the center provides a link to an earlier embroidery documented as having been in the Holy Shrine of Imam ‘Ali in Najaf (Iraq). This, in turn, appears to copy an older woven silk textile, although no actual original is known. Highend silk designs often served as fashionable models to be copied in less-expensive materials, such as knotted-pile and embroidery. The source of this “swirling” motif in the center has long been a puzzle; the conjecture that it derives from costly silks remains tentative.
Below – An embroidery published in 1941 as part of the Holy Shrine of al-Najaf in Iraq. It appears to be an early example of the type of embroidery seen in the exhibit. It is worked in stripes in imitation of a silk textile.