Zoroastrian embroidery

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Being sold on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Wendel Swan



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The central Persian city of Yazd has been a center of fine silk textile production since at least the 13th century when it was visited by the Venetian explorer, Marco Polo. Considering this trade the traveler noted, “They weave there quantities of a certain silk tissue known as Yasdi, which merchants carry into many quarters to sell”. This tradition presumably continued into the 19th century. Following the Islamic conquests, Iran was gradually converted to Islam. A notable holdout was the city of Yazd, where many inhabitants retained the old religion of Zoroastrianism. For this reason, striped silk textiles woven in Yazd, are known as “Zoroastrian”. This exceptionally colorful example utilizes two greens as well as a double-dyed purple. It would have formed the sleeve of a Yazdi ‘shalvar’ or pants. The fine embroidered shrubs seen across the piece do bear a resemblance to a group of Gujarati embroideries woven in India by Zoroastrian refugees to that country called ‘Parsis” so perhaps the Zoroastrian designation is not so far fetched.