The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait, holds a spectacular array of ancient textiles that were made in Islamic lands and traded along the Silk Road. The majority range in date from the 9th to the 15th centuries CE and were reportedly found in the caves of Samangan province in northern Afghanistan. They are accompanied by a smaller group of Chinese textiles of similar age and provenance. This extraordinary collection, largely unpublished until now, is a rich source of information not only about the history of textiles, but also about the Silk Road itself, the network of ancient trade routes that linked China, Central Asia and Byzantium and that for more than 1500 years promoted cultural exchange and political contact.
The textiles include pieces of magnificent brocade-silk caftans decorated with exotic birds; block-printed cotton dresses; a 14th-century shawl embrodered with a Persian love poem; caps, sashes, amulet pouches and even an embroidered doll. Other textiles, no less spectacular, survive as fragments, displaying an astonishing range of motifs: geometric patterns; fantastic beasts; trees and flowers; palmettes and vine-scrolls; stylized a tantalizing glimpse of the lives of the merchants, pilgrims and travellers who wore or carried these textiles through Samangan.
This extensively illustrated volume is essential reading for anyone with an interest in textiles and the decorative arts, the history of the Islamic world, or the story of the great Silk Road.
With more than 500 images.