EU shipping is temporarily suspended

Textiles of the Middle East and Central Asia (British Museum)

The Fabric of Life

Fahmida Suleman


A beautifully illustrated exploration of the textile traditions of a culturally diverse region, from the late 18th century to the present day

See Inside


Textiles of the Middle East and Central Asia explores the significance and beauty of textiles from across this vast and culturally diverse region dating from the late eighteenth century to the present day. From the intricate embroidery on a Palestinian wedding dress to the complex iconography on an Afghan war rug, textiles reflect the beliefs, practices and experiences of people from these lands.

The book is arranged thematically, enabling cross-regional comparisons of the function and symbolic meaning of textiles. Five chapters relate to facets or phases of a person’s life in which textiles feature prominently: childhood, marriage and ceremony, status and identity, religion and belief, and house and homestead. A final chapter includes contemporary works that grapple with modern political issues.

The textiles featured include men’s, women’s and children’s garments, hats and headdresses, mosque curtains and prayer mats, floor-coverings, tent-hangings, hand towels and cushions, storage sacks, purses and cosmetic pouches, dolls and souvenirs, animal trappings and amulets. Focusing on the British Museum’s remarkable collection, Textiles of the Middle East and Central Asia offers a wealth of creative inspiration and is essential reading for anyone interested in textiles and the cultures of one of the world’s most fascinating and richly varied regions.

Read More


'A fascinating visual resource, full of beautiful, detailed images and lots of surprises … exciting … the text is concise and informative … It is a pleasure to learn by looking through this delightful book'
Jennifer Wearden, former curator of Islamic Textiles at the Victoria & Albert Museum

'A visual feast and an eye-opening history'
History Revealed

'Lives up to its title in examining “the fabric of life” across time in this vast region'

'Richly illustrated … there is a lot to be learned about the region in this beautifully presented book'
Journal for Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

'Beautifully illustrated ... this publication provides an exquisite guide through the collection'
Anthropos Journal

Read More

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Quarterbound/PLC (no jacket)

Size: 27.0 x 24.0 cm

Extent: 232 pp

Illustrations: 269

Publication date: 12 October 2017

ISBN: 9780500519912

Contents List

Introduction • 1. Childhood • 2. Status and Identity • 3. Marriage and Ceremony • 4. Religion and Belief • 5. House and Homestead • 6. Politics and Conflict

About the Author

Dr Fahmida Suleman is Phyllis Bishop Curator for the Modern Middle East at the British Museum. She is the editor of Word of God, Art of Man: The Qur’an and its Creative Expressions and People of the Prophet’s House: Artistic and Ritual Expressions of Shi’i Islam.