Silk Fragment with Armenian Inscription
Iran or Turkey
17th Century or later
Silk with metal threads
25.4 x 40.6 cm (10 x 16 in)
Marshall & Marilyn R. Wolf
This silk clearly was made for the Armenian community. It bears a conventionalized image of Seraphim, combined with the Christian imagery of the cross. Around the cross are the abbreviated words in Armenian script: “Lord, God, Jesus, Christ,” and around each Seraph are the abbreviated words: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Hosts,” words sung at the climax of the liturgy.
Textiles with similar imagery, but with inscriptions in Greek characters and a characteristically Ottoman color style, are also known. Expert opinion is divided as to whether this example was made in Ottoman Turkey for the Armenian community there, or in Iran for the community established in Isfahan by Shah Abbas the Great, at the beginning of the seventeenth century.