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Textile fragment

Textile fragment

  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)
    Akhmim (found)

  • Date:

    4th Century - 5th Century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plain woven linen, tapestry woven wool and linen

  • Museum number:

    349-1887

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Tapestry, a very ancient and widespread technique of pattern-weaving, was extensively practised in the Byzantine empire. Many examples have been found in Egyptian graves, where they served as wrappings for the dead. This fragment, which comes from the burial-grounds at Akhmîm in Upper Egypt, was probably part of a curtain originally intended to hang in a doorway or between columns, perhaps at an altar. The jewelled cross symbolising the Christian faith, with alpha and omega for the Almighty and birds representing the souls of the faithful, was framed in a wreath of flowers and borne aloft by a pair of winged victories or angels, crowned with jewelled diadems.

Physical description

Fragment of a plain woven, undyed linen hanging, with tapestry woven decoration in dyed wools and undyed linen. The decoration shows a winged figure, supporting a floral wreath enclosing a jewelled cross. This figure would originally have been one of a pair, the other mirrored and holding the other side of the wreath. In the lower left corner of the wreath is an Alpha; a corresponding Omega would have been in the lower right corner. The upper left corner has a dove, as would the upper right originally. The winged figure wears red, yellow and green clothing and has a jewelled diadem, earrings and armlets.

There are the remains of an opening, edged with thin cords, just to the right of the letter Alpha in the wreath, suggesting that the original curtain opened down the middle.

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)
Akhmim (found)

Date

4th Century - 5th Century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Plain woven linen, tapestry woven wool and linen

Dimensions

Width: 64 cm, Height: 38 cm, Width: 77 cm, Height: 50 cm, Depth: 2 cm

Object history note

349-1887 to 358-1887 inclusive purchased for £100

Descriptive line

Fragment of a hanging, plain woven linen and tapestry woven wool and linen, Akhmim, Egypt, 4th Century - 5th Century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

A.F. Kendrick, Textiles from Burying-Grounds in Egypt, Vol. II. Period of Transition and of Christian Emblems (London, 1921): 15 No. 317, Pl. 7

Materials

Wool; Linen

Techniques

Tapestry weave; Plain weave; Dyeing

Categories

Archaeology; Textiles; Tapestry; Images Online; Africa

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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