An exhibition 'Corners of One Cloth - Textiles from the Islamic World' opens at the Whitworth Museum in Manchester.

Cloth was, and continues to be, a unifier across the Islamic world. This exhibition showcases textiles from the Whitworth’s collection, selected from across cultures and countries.

The title of the exhibition refers to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) bringing together four leaders who all wanted to raise the sacred Black Stone from the ground up to the Ka’ba in Mecca. They placed the stone in the centre of a cloth so that each could take a corner and lift together.

At the heart of this exhibition is a nearly 100-year-old fragment of kiswa cloth.

The kiswa covers the Ka’ba and is replaced annually during Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca); each year sections are cut and distributed across the world. This is the first time this piece has ever been on display in Manchester. 

Asian Image:

Hand embroidery, n.d. Syria and (below) Turkish embroidered napkin, 1750 - 1850. The Whitworth, The University of Manchester

Asian Image:

This is a textile of religious significance but not all of the works on display are connected to worship. 

Socks, rugs, bedding and tablecloths are included; objects made in beautiful and careful ways for everyday use. 
Many of the textiles offer protection.

A Dervish hat stitched with a poem to recite, a Malian hat that is said to contain passages of the Qur’an and a talismanic shirt with a magic formulae of letters and numbers. 

These, and many other textiles, have influenced non-Muslim artists and craftspeople across the world. Pieces by designers such as William Morris, Thomas Wardle and Lucienne Day, clearly inspired by Islamic culture, are on display.

Asian Image:

Panel, 1680-1749, linen and silk embroidery, Caucasus. The Whitworth, The University of Manchester

Numerous voices have come together to make this exhibition: people of the Islamic faith, teachers, religious leaders, academics, project co-ordinators and museum professionals. 

They were invited to the Whitworth to form a focus group to view and discuss textiles from the exhibition. 

It was acknowledged that no collection can represent a full picture, and with this exhibition the Whitworth can only offer a series of glimpses into the long and international history of Islamic culture. 

All agreed that Manchester today is as much part of the Islamic world as places where Islam has long been the dominant religion. 
In June 2018 the exhibition opened with two empty cases, painted green. 

This points to the gaps in the gallery’s collection and offers an opportunity, at the Come and Share event on 9 August, to borrow and display textiles from the most local Islamic communities in the North West. 

Thursday 9 August 2018
Free. Drop-in 2-4pm, the gallery will be open until 9pm
An opportunity for the public and local communities to bring textiles from their Islamic world including home-made items, clothes, souvenirs, special religious items or everyday objects to help the gallery complete the exhibition. A selection will be displayed in the currently empty cases.