This remarkably well-preserved fragment integrates Safavid taste for abstraction and Mughal interest in naturalism. Recognizable flowers, such as irises and carnations, are combined with more stylized types against a sumptuous gold ground. To achieve the luminous effect, gold foil was used in the weft (horizontal threads) of the fabric. The cloth’s stiffness meant that it was used for garments, especially coats and robes of honor. The Safavid capital of Isfahan was particularly known for such gold-brocaded silks (zarbaft)—the costliest and most fragile type of silk fabric.
Iran, Safavid period, 1700–1722
Silk brocade with metal-wrapped threads
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha