This fascinating and mysterious silk scarf tells a story in pictures, each of the 36 blocks depicting a different scene. The scarf reminds me of my books narrated through wood prints. It presents the same kind of reading challenge, trying to figure out the story it tells. Unlike the wood prints, it has words, but I can't even identify what language they are written in, much less read them. It looks something like Arabic, but for some reason I don't think it is. I don't even know where the scarf is from. It belonged to my Aunt Fern, who might have bought it in Ethiopia, where she lived in the 60's, or in Egypt (given the pyramids in some of the scenes.)
I'm not sure what direction it should be read from. There is, however, a clue early on in the story, where a letter is given to a messenger, who in subsequent panels gets in a boat and hands the letter to a priest. Based on this, I photographed the 36 panels in groups of 3 from left to right and from top to bottom.
The story is obviously religious, probably Biblical. It starts with two men (or a man and a woman), one carrying a child, the other a sacrificial lamb or goat that he feeds to some kind of monster or spirit. A crowd gathers, including several kings or priests. They have a celebration with music and drinks, culminating in what looks like a canonization or ordination (judging from the cross on the crown.) Two richly robed men travel in a boat past the pyramids. They are given a letter by some priests (?) and return to their boat, which travels past the same two pyramids. The letter is passed on to two priests, one of whom has a Star of David on his robe. A whole crowd gets in the boat and journeys past the pyramids, where they attend a big feast. We see still more priests, a figure that might be the Madonna and child, a lion, camels, what looks like a game of hockey (!) and perhaps a dead body. What it all means is a mystery to me.
In hopes that some of you can assist in interpreting the story, or identify the language or religious tradition it depicts, I'm posting it here. (If you want a closer look, right click on the photos to open them in a new tab, or just click on them then hit the back arrow to return. I haven't figured out how to make pictures open in a separate window.)
And even if you can't read it, I hope you enjoy its charm nonetheless!