Gilding Textiles and Printing Blocks in Tenth-Century Egypt

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Anya H. King



The surviving portion of the tenth-century Egyptian Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Tamīmī’s recently edited Ṭīb al-ʿarūs has several formulas relating to the dying and perfuming of textiles. Some refer to the use of carved molds to impress designs upon textiles. Tamīmī’s formulas treat in particular the application of gold leaf and perfumed dye pastes with blocks, but presuppose the technology of using blocks to apply designs to textiles and include a vocabulary of technical terms for the process. This textual evidence provides additional context for surviving early medieval Islamic block-printed gilded textiles. The attestation of the use of blocks to decorate textiles is contemporary with the use of blocks to print Arabic amulet texts, known by the tenth century from extant specimens and some literary evidence.

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