© Benaki Museum

Name of Object:

Pile carpet fragment


Athens, Greece

Holding Museum:

Benaki Museum


8th-10th century

Type of object:


Museum Inventory Number:



5.5x41.5 cm




This long, narrow fragment appears to comprise approximately one-eighth of a small carpet-cushion, whose original dimensions were approximately 42cm square, as indicated by the two surviving outer selvedges which establish its width. The few small patterns found in the narrow main border (width 7.5 cm.) – bands, lozenges, and white cotton dots – are the standard form of decoration on small carpet-cushions. There was originally a perimetric tiraz, as evidenced by the word Allah which is woven in undyed cotton, as in Benaki 16151. The thickness of the pile is 4-5 mm and microscopic examination shows it to have been roughly handled, as with Benaki 16148. A possible explanation is that the carpets underwent a scraping in a fuller’s workshop.

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

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;3;en&id=carpets

Prepared by: Mina Moraitou

MWNF Working Number: GR1_003

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