Antique Rishwan tribe silk shawl from Homs

From a collection of antique Syrian shawls and other textiles acquired in Turkey in September, a hand loomed 19th century woman’s silk shawl/head dress with gold bands and weavers inscription. The shawl called a ‘Şar’ or ‘chit’ was a very expensive garment worn by high status women of the Rishwan (or Reshwan) tribe in the Adiyaman area of East Anatolia and was made to be worn over an abba street dress. This example has metal bound tassels added in the 20th century. The central gold saf-like motif is the master weaver’s workshop ‘logo’ and below this is the signature of the weaver "Kaar" (the work of) "Rassoul Karaki". The more gold thread used in weaving the shawl, the higher the status of the woman wearing it. (Thanks to Deniz Coşkun for information on the name and tribal origin and to Camille Khairallah for his translation).

According to ‘The Arts and Crafts of Syria: Collection Antoine Touma and the Linden-Museum Stuttgart’ by Johannes Kalter (1992)

Depending upon their method of manufacture they are called kasrawaniyye or homsiyye. The cloths are square and vary in size from 1.10 to 2.40 meters. They are woven from heavy silk (black or red) and their distinguishing feature consists of patterns woven in gold or silver threads. The cloths end in long knotted fringes.’ Although these are called ‘Aleppo’, the book says they were woven in Homs.

The black silk is in very good condition, although as often found on antique silk shawls with silver and gold thread, there are stainz to the gold bands and some separation of the silk weft where it was worn over the head (last two photos). The central woven gold motif and inscription is the master weaver’s ‘logo’ and name (photo 3). For photos of this sype of shawl being worn by Rishwan women (probably the last generation to wear it), see the last row of photos.

Size 240cm x 160cm No 5095 €295