Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textiles as Cultural Expressions: Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 24–27, 2008, Honolulu, Hawaii


Copyright 2008 by the author.


Medieval Persian poet Farrukhi Sistani writes, “I left Sistan with merchants of fine robes/ The robe I bore was spun within my heart/ And woven from my soul.” To write in these terms is to weave a text. Another poem of the qasida type by Nasir-i Khusraw varies the analogy, “I shall make a castle of my qasida and within it / Create gardens and porticoes from its verse.” A poem, then, is both a robe and a castle.

Jerome W. Clinton brings these and other samples together to examine “metaphors of craft,” the better to understand the construction of Persian poetry.3 My concerns are more even handed. There is much to learn about the craft of poetry from the self-conscious comparisons to textiles and architecture, but the interrelationship is triangular, and architecture and textiles will have their say as well, both to one another and to poetry.

This interdisciplinary outlook is of special importance in the study of the art of the Nasrids, the last Muslim dynasty in the Iberian Peninsula, or al-Andalus, and its chief monument, the Alhambra in Granada (Fig. 1).