Arabic tapestry?
December 21, 2006 7:40 PM   Subscribe

What does the writing on this tapestry mean? It looks like Arabic, but I'm not sure.

It's been hanging in the house for a while, but nobody has been able to figure out what the writing in the center means. Anyone? Any other information about the tapestry would be helpful, too. Thanks!
posted by nervestaple to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What does the other side look like?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:43 PM on December 21, 2006

The other side is just a canvas-type covering with ratty stitching under it.
posted by nervestaple at 7:46 PM on December 21, 2006

Is it stitched to the canvas? I ask because I can't tell from the picture if it is a piece of cloth woven with the pattern and then tacked to a backing or if it is an actual tapestry or kilim that is sort of crocheted directly to a backing.

There is the possibility is that the words are gibberish made to look like Arab/Farsi type script which has been a fairly common practice in Europe since the Crusades and later the days when Turks and Arabs were making incursions on the continent and hugely influencing fashion.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:43 PM on December 21, 2006

I'm just a beginner at reading Arabic but that looks like nothing I've ever seen. Arabic and Farsi, while slightly different, look enough alike that I can also say it's not Farsi. I second the gibberish theory.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:32 PM on December 21, 2006

The lettering is actually stitching on the fabric. Gibberish! That's disappointing. I can't really think of any other language it might be, though.
posted by nervestaple at 10:45 PM on December 21, 2006

I third gibberish. It is definitely reminiscent of arabic script, but also definitely not actual arabic or farsi writing. It looks like a poor imitation of calligraphy.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:49 AM on December 22, 2006

Any chance it's something like Mongolian? How did the tapestry come into your family's posession?
posted by MsMolly at 6:07 AM on December 22, 2006

I'm unsure how we got it. Indicating that it was possibly Arabic was a mistake, we've apparently already had native speakers look at it and confirm that it's not Arabic. Mongolian, though - that's interesting.
posted by nervestaple at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2006

I'm pretty sure it's not Mongolian. I third the gibberish theory.
posted by languagehat at 11:09 AM on December 22, 2006

My wife is an oriental carpet and textile dealer, and here's what she says:

"It's a square shawl hand-loomed from Kashmir. The inscription could be the owner's name, the weaver's name, a simple prayer. My experience has been with anything textile or rug-like the calligraphy is very hard to decipher."
posted by booth at 9:45 AM on December 23, 2006

After a little more wikipedi'ing I see that the Kashmir region speaks (at least) three languages. Of those, Kashmiri looks most like your textile's writing.
posted by booth at 9:57 AM on December 23, 2006

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