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More rants (not mine this time, though).

If you’re interested in old textiles, you might have caught the thing with the Viking tablet-woven band that, according to Annika Larsson, spells “Allah”.

The Guardian and Heritage Daily, among other places, covered this “staggering” find. Then up sprang the debate on whether it really was possible that the band has Arabic script on it, and spells “Allah” – one prominent voice against it was Stephennie Mulder, an associate professor for Medieval Islamic Art and Architecture. She did it on Twitter (of all places!), in a brilliant string of tweets you can see here. (Go look at that link for pictures of medieval tablet weaves with stunning patterns!)

Apart from the Square Kufic style being significantly younger than the textile and other script issues that are covered in that tweet string, Carolyn Priest-Dorman also has a few things to say about the pattern. Especially that the square-ish things at the side, shown in the images in the articles, are… not actually in the band itself.

The Guardian’s article has since been updated to include the academic debate.

The Atlantic also covers this discussion, as does The Independent.

I’m not sure what brought Mrs Larsson to go forth and invent extra bits for a band just to read something Arabic into it, but I’m not happy about it.

I’m much happier about the fact that there were quick and well-founded counter-arguments for it. It’s a beautiful band, it is a stunning piece of work, and it does deserve proper study, but it’s not a prop for inventing an alternate history, thankyouverymuch.

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One Response to More rants (not mine this time, though).

  1. Agreed, on all counts. I wanted to blog about it, but life intervened. I might do so yet, but you’re right that the major arguments against Larsson’s theory have been brought out on the Internet, and that’s a good thing.

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