Stunning, and very rare textile.
This is a wedding blanket, made in the southern marshalnds of Iraq some time in the 20th century: There are practically no antique examples, they were used until worn out and finished. Known in Iraq as Izar-as-Samawa, these blankets were not traded and have remained largely unknown to the wider world. In 1991, Saddam Hussein drained the marshlands as punishment for harbouring Shi'ite rebels. The Marsh Arab culture no longer exists, and the blankets haven't been made for 30 years.
Judging the age related wear and colour fading (see image of reverse for the density of colour originally used) we would age this around mid century. The colour fade to the "twill" (the base fabric, made by a professional weaver and bought by the embroiderer to work on) suggests the use of natural dyes and would date this to pre 1960's.
These blankets are always roughly the same size, this example being typical at around 215cm x 151cm. They are made by stitching two embroideries together, one made by the bride to be, one half by the grooms family, to a pre-agreed design. This has resulted in a charming asymmetry, you can see the different hands at work. The dyes have aged at different rates across the blanket too, dependant on the batch of wool used, adding an extra layer of colour to the already incredibly vibrant design.
Condition on this is overall excellent. There are small losses to the ends, about 5cm one end and 10cm at the opposite corner missing some fringing, a few small holes and losses of embroidery. See images.
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Mid Century Iraqi Wedding Blanket
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