السبت، 8 أكتوبر، 2011

Islamic Cities Famous for Silk

Silk was considered the third most popular raw material for textiles in Islamic Egypt after linen and wool. Silk fabrics were known in Egypt since the Ptolemaic era. Silk was imported from India and China before Egypt started producing it locally in the sixth century AD. Silk production was hindered at first because men were prohibited from wearing it, but then it flourished in early Islamic Egypt. The city of Dabiq was known for its production. In Akhmim, a silk garment that belonged to Caliph Abd al-Malik Ibn Marwan was found. More silk fabrics found in Akhmim are currently at the British Museum. Alexandria became one of the most important silk manufacturing centers during the Fatimid era. When Burjuan of Sicily, Fatimid vizier, was killed, he was found to own 1,000 silk shirts from Alexandria. It seems that Alexandria was so famous for silk that others sold their silk as if it were made there.

The cities of Tennis, Damietta, and Abwan were also famous for a transparent fabric made with golden silk threads. Perhaps the gift that Saladin provided to Nur Al-Din in Damascus was manufactured in one of these three cities. Simnai was popular for silk weaving.

Some historical accounts state that there were shops in Fustat dedicated to silk trading. Many people carried the name "Qazzaz," which means silk trader.

The city of Al-Ashmunein in Middle Egypt, according to some papyri, was one of the important centers in silk crafts, for which the documents had many names for the numerous manufacturers in this city. Papyri also recorded the names of silk makers at the time of Al-Mustansir, the Fatimid Caliph, which indicates the size of this industry at the time.

Al-Fustat was an important center for manufacturing silk and apparently there was a kind of fabric derived from the city's name. Cairo became a flourishing center for silk soon after its establishment. Yaqoub ibn Kals, the Fatimid vizier, founded a silk manufacturing house in Cairo .

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