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Silk, linen, metal, and dye
Overall: 281 x 157.7 cm (110 5/8 x 62 1/16 in.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Wade 1916.1361
When first acquired over a century ago, these curtains had fringe at their lower ends.
This pair of curtains displays colorful silk bands with woven geometric motifs, and cream bands with gold-embroidered plants, birds, six-pointed stars, and the khamsah (خمسة), an open five-fingered hand. Birds and the tree of life were popular good luck or fertility symbols linked to marriage. The cosmopolitan motifs would have resonated with Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike, reflecting its creation on multiethnic and multireligious Djerba, an island off the Tunisian coast. There, both goldsmithing and gold thread embroidery were done by Jewish artisans (male and female, respectively). The fine materials suggest they once hung in a wealthy home or for special occasions; interior wall hangings were typically made from rough wool.
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