Nicholas Sims-Williams and Geoffrey Khan, Zandanījī Misidentified
Shroud of St. Mengold. Reconstruction by P. de Groot and D. De Jonghe. Copyright IRPA-KIK, Brussels.
Shroud of St. Mengold. Reconstruction by P. de Groot and D. De Jonghe. Copyright IRPA-KIK, Brussels.


A polychrome silk textile preserved at Huy in Belgium bears on its reverse a two-line inscription in ink. In 1959 this inscription was read as Sogdian by W. B. Henning, who thought that it named the textile as zandanījī, a type of cloth which is often referred to in early Islamic sources. On the basis of this reading, many similar textiles have since been identified as zandanījī.The purpose of this paper is to show that the inscription on the Huy silk is in fact in Arabic and that it does not give the name of the textile but that of an owner and the price for which he purchased it. On palaeographical grounds the Arabic inscription is likely to have been written in the 9th century, which is within the range indicated by the radio-carbon dating of the textile.