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Nubian textiles

Craft, trade, costume and identity of the medieval kingdom of Makuria


Hidden Textile Treasures in the collections of the Sudan National Museum (inaugurated 24th October 2019)

An exhibition prepared in cooperation with the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences, the Sudan National Museum, and the SFDAS.

The project is financed from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 665778.

This exhibition was planned since the beginning of the project. The idea was to present to the general public but also to colleagues from the field the rich informative potential of textiles and tools related to textile production for our study and understanding of the Nubian past. Unfortunately, the lack of a textile specialist during the excavations creates a situation where textile remains are usually not studied and not published. Also, even if the material is collected, usually the lack of proper storage conditions for archaeological fabrics contributes to their rapid degradation.

The generous funding of the National Science Centre, Poland in the frame of the POLONEZ grant allowed the transport and conservation of four exceptional textiles from the medieval collection of the Sudan National Museum and also their setting in new showcases, ensuring them a long-term safe conservation for the future generations of visitors and researchers. These four textiles as well as the fragments of a painted shroud from Sai Island, loaned for the exhibition, are undoubtedly the highlights of the exhibition.

The scenario of the exhibition follows the steps of the weaving process, starting with the presentation of raw material and its transformation into threads which are then set on a loom and woven into a fabric. Then a variety of archaeological textiles is presented as well as their context which gives an insight into the daily life and funerary practices of the inhabitants of both Antique and Medieval Sudan.

The planning of the exhibition benefited from the precious collaboration of dr. Elsa Yvanez (University of Copenhagen) and dr. Vincent Francigny (SFDAS Previous Director and Director of the Sai Mission). Special thanks are due to our coordinator Mr. Mustafa Ahmed Elsharif Abdalla which ensured a smooth and effective collaboration with the NCAM authorities and the colleagues of the Sudan National Museum.

The mounting of the exhibition would not have been possible without the help of many people: Mr. Hamid Mohammed, engineer, who was responsible for cutting and mounting of the glass panels – within the difficult economic and material situation in the Sudan in the present days, the numerous power cuts in Khartoum, his help was invaluable and the success of his mission a true miracle. In this process, we benefitted from the help and support of our colleagues of the NCAM, the Sudan National Museum, the French Unit (SFDAS), and from George Pagoulatos, Director of the Acropole Hotel, whom warm thanks are due for his brilliant organization and assistance in the transport of the showcases mountings. Mr. Andrzej Witkowski from Vitrum Porsa company helped us a lot in the mounting stage of the showcases, many thanks for his permanent support and quick answers to all my emails, sent late at night or early in the morning 🙂 Aneta Cedro, my colleague from IKSIO PAN, deserves also my sincere thanks for the beautiful layout of the exhibition panels and for her patience in the many adjustments made in the final stage of the editing and printing process. Thanks to Phidias Printing Studio for their professionalism and reliability. A big thank also to our Tcheque colleagues, namely Pavel Onderka and his team, for their invaluable help with the screwing and installing of the showcases in the very last hours before the exhibition inauguration – without them, the opening of the exhibition would have to be postponed to the day after! Last but not least, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Basia who was with me at each step of this ambitious project! Her support, experience, and indefectible company even in the most stressful situations greatly contributed to the success of this event!


National Science Centre, Poland - “POLONEZ” funding scheme n° 2015/19/P/HS3/02100
Project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 665778