© Benaki Museum

Name of Object:

Pile carpet fragment


Athens, Greece

Holding Museum:

Benaki Museum


8th-10th century

Type of object:


Museum Inventory Number:



24x43 cm




The dark green central square is surrounded by three light-coloured borders, which in their turn are framed by thin bands in various colours. The first border is decorated with polychrome zig-zags, the second with yellow dots placed on differently-coloured bands and the third has a perimetric kufic inscription, which bears the name of Allah, on an abrashed red ground. The pile is in relatively good condition, apart from the areas of dark brown which are noticeably worn, so that the surface of the carpet gives the impression of having concave sections. The original dimensions of the carpet were approximately 45 cm square, as indicated by the shape of the pattern, the inscription which runs around the central decorative feature, and the fact that in technique, design and dimensions it resembles Benaki fragments 16148 and 16193, as well as no.73.726 in the Textile Museum, Washington.

How date and origin were established:

It belongs to a group of fragments attributed to Egypt and their dating between the 8th and the 11th century. In addition, the form of the kufic inscription belongs to this period

How Object was obtained:

Purchased from Fokion Tanos in 1947

How provenance was established:

Factors that determine the provenance: 1. The use of linen, which is the basic Egyptian fibre, for both warps and wefts; 2. The left-twisting (S) spin of the materials is also an Egyptian feature. Linen warps S-spun, Z-plied are found in Coptic fabrics of the 9th-10th century. Right-twisted spinning (Z) is rarely found in Group A; 3. The technique of weaving with cut-pile loops which continues the long-standing Egyptian tradition of weaving with a pile made of loops; 4. The pattern, colouring and techniques of this group fragments bear a close resemblance to contemporaneous Coptic textiles. 5. The fragments display similarities to certain inscribed and non-inscribed fragments from Fustat.

Selected bibliography:

Published in Theologou, J., Ozoline, A., Sartzetakis, Y., "Fustat Carpet Fragments", Hali, 156 (summer 2008): 65-71.

Citation of this web page:

Mina Moraitou "Pile carpet fragment" in [Discover Carpet Art] , Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;DCA;gr;Mus31;1;en&id=carpets

Prepared by: Mina Moraitou

MWNF Working Number: GR1_001

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