Accsession No.:

2011.3776
2011-3776a.jpg
2011-3776b.jpg

Tags

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Description

Paper fragment, framed in glass. Dark cream paper with seven lines of black text. There is line of text on the reverse.

Inscription

N/A

Notes

Alan Cole: The art of papermaking was a secret kept within China since its invention in 105AD. After the battle of Talas in 751 AD, knowledgeable Chinese prisoners of war were ordered to produce paper in Samarkand, which opened up this knowledge for the first time to what became the Muslim world. By 793 the first of five factories, set up by Haroun-el-Raschid, was operational in Baghdad.

The present document is on paper that was made in one of Haroun-el-Raschid's mills and dates to between 802 and 809. It was originally a contract that was cut into eight pieces immediately upon its signing; the reverse bears one of the signatures. Each part of the document was then written on with the Islamic proclamation of faith: 'There is only one God.... 'and sold as an amulet. The total price of the whole sheet was around £2,300 in today's money, which is evidence of the value of the new paper at the time.
The other interesting thing about this item is that although the paper has been confirmed as having been manufactured as stated above, the Islamic proclamation of faith was written some time later in Egypt. This could have been because it was originally a contract between someone from Baghdad and an Egyptian or else a merchant from Baghdad went to Egypt and it was obtained by someone there. All purely conjecture!
This is another of my favourite items from the collection.

Language

Arabic

Associated Parties

No information available

Place of Creation

Iraq, Asia

Creator

Date Created

No information available

Collection

This item does not currently belong to a collection.

Series

Antiquities

Object Type

Paper fragment

Category

Paper fragment

Materials

paper

Dimensions

w: 75, h: 121, d: -