Egyptian, Syrian or Arab Horse Archer on an Islamic Textile, Egypt or Syria, 8th century


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Textile Fragment with Hunting Scene
Date: 8th century
Geography: Egypt or Syria
Culture: Islamic
Medium: Silk; samite
Dimensions: Textile: H. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm) W. 6 3/4 in. (17.1 cm) Mount: H. 13 3/4 in. (34.9 cm) W. 10 1/4 in. (26 cm)
Classification: Textiles-Woven
Inscription: Above the heads of the figures is an inscription in kufic, the bismillah.

This silk fragment depicts a mounted hunter aiming at a leaping panther in an oval roundel with scrolling vegetation. It is closely related to early Byzantine examples woven in Egypt. The motif of hunters on horseback with bows and arrows originates in Sasanian Iran but made its way into Byzantine heraldry, where it was adapted and classicized. The inclusion of an Arabic inscription (the bismillah) places it securely in the early Islamic period. This is a testament to the longevity of the motif and the synthesis of pre-Islamic designs in the early Islamic period.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accession Number: 51.57



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