Matrices for stamping leather

Date: ca. 1200
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Afghanistan
Medium: Stone
Dimensions: larger matrix 33.5 × 18.5 cm
Description: These limestone matrices were used to press or stamp leather objects, such as men's belts and the wallets that hung from them. The resulting decoration—a vegetal arabesque with interspersed animals—projected from a darker dyed background. The greenish stone can be localized to northern Afghanistan, and one matrix bears the name of a governor of Herat who died early in the thirteenth century, suggesting a date around 1200 for all of them. Very similar decorative motifs are also found in contemporary metalwork. At that time Herat was part of the Ghurid kingdom, formerly enslaved people who converted to Islam in the eleventh century, overthrew the Ghaznavids, and briefly ruled from the Caspian Sea to eastern India before falling to the Khorezmians.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 8
Image Credits: Linda Safran

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