Researchers working to recreate textile patterns for an exhibition in Sweden have discovered that the woven bands of silk in burial costumes found in Viking Age boatgraves contained inscription in Kufic, an ancient Arabic script. This information was shared by Sweden’s Uppsala University in an article on its website after researchers behind the study showed that the words ‘Allah’ and ‘Ali’ are invoked in the patterns of the bands.
“One exciting detail is that the word ‘Allah’ is depicted in mirror image,” said Annika Larsson, researcher in textile archaeology at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University. According to the article, it was while working to recreate textile patterns for the Viking Couture exhibit at the Enköping Museum in Sweden’s Enköping that the researchers discovered that the woven bands contained the ancient Arabic script. The Kufic characters were found in the Viking Age in mosaics on burial monuments and mausoleums, primarily in Central Asia.
Similar Kufic characters appear in the grave costumes in Viking Age chamber graves in central sites in Sweden, such as Birka in Mälardalen, as well as in boatgraves in the area around Gamla Uppsala. “It is a staggering thought that the bands, just like the costumes, was made west of the Muslim heartland. Perhaps this was an attempt to write prayers so that they could be read from left to right,” the article quotes Larsson as saying.
“Presumably, Viking Age burial customs were influenced by Islam and the idea of an eternal life in Paradise after death.”