Mamluk Embroidery

Mamluk Fragment, 13th-16th C

Mamluk Fragment of a Lion, silk on linen, 13th Century


The Mamluk dynasties ruled parts of the Middle East, including Egypt, between 1250CE to 1517CE. Many textiles from this period survive, in part due to the climatic conditions of Egypt, dry and hot, which help to preserve the linen, silk and wool which were used to produce the textiles.

Designs, Materials and Techniques

One of the most distinctive types of embroidery associated with the Mamluk period is the double running stitch and patterned darned samplers and fragments. The double running stitch designs of the show a strong resemblance to the double running stitch blackwork of England in the 16th Century.

It is difficult to say exactly what sort of items these bands of embroidery were used to decorate, as many have obviously been cut away from larger items and only survive as fragments. But it is possible that they were used to decorate the ends of towels, and other domestic items.

Uses on clothing include on tunics, belts, scarves, caps, slippers and trouser legs. Household linens, such as towels, pillow covers, and general clothes were also decorated.

Some Extant Examples


Further Reading

  • Ellis, Marianne "Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt", (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2001)

Mamluk Band Sampler, 14th Century

Mamluk Band Sampler, 14th Century