Textiles are one of the most diverse types of objects from the Islamic lands. They include some of the most valuable and refined luxury goods produced, highly prized by their owners at the time and among the most prestigious diplomatic gifts and rewards for service at court. Egypt, Iran, Turkey and India produced some of the most spectacular woven textiles for garments and cushions, using silk and metal threads to luxurious effect in figural as well as calligraphic, floral and other designs.

In the early mediaeval period, Egypt was famous for tiraz textiles, a series of types which incorporated inscription bands. Whether integrally woven, embroidered or written with pen and ink, these inscriptions generally took the form of fine calligraphy and often included the name of the Caliph and the factory (tiraz) in which they were produced.

Knotted pile carpets have a history in Asia which goes back beyond the fourth century BCE. The Iranian lands and Turkey are justly famous for their production of carpets, most of the surviving examples being from the later Islamic centuries. In the 15th and early 16th centuries CE, Cairo was the centre of production for the distinctive ‘Mamluk’ carpets.

View some of the collection below.