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  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)

  • Date:

    600 - 900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plain woven linen with pattern woven silk

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Linen tunic, with applied woven silk ornaments, consisting of shoulder bands, roundels and sleeve panels. What is now been made into the front (scooped out the neck) was originally the back, as the front (now the back) has been cut down the middle and stitched together. Probably to get the body out of the garment. The waist tuck still intact (measures 3.7 cm at centre and 7.2 cm at the side seams). The shoulder bands reach down to the waist, both back and front; the ends are rounded and each has a small pendent roundel connected with it by a narrow strip. They are each divided into four equal parts by three square compartments, containing eight-pointed star designs with radiating floral devices at the points. The spaces between these squares are each filled with a conventional tree, culminating in a seven-lobed circle within which the foliage is traced. The small roundels contain trees of similar form, but symmetrical. The large detached roundels, of which there are four, two at the back and two at the front, beneath the shoulder-bands contain similar tree forms, but more elaborate. the oblong panels on the cuffs have i nthe middle a circle of a wavy outline, containing a radiating floral device, and surrounded by symmetrical floral scrolls. Two compartments at each end both contain a horseman armed with what appears to be a mace, attached by a foot-soldier with a lance. In the lower corner is a long-legged bird, and higher up is another bird with outspread wings. The name ZAXAPIOY appears over the horseman's head. The borders of the silk panels consist of cup-shaped flowers, placed alternately inwards and outwards, and connected by S-forms. The narrow strip connecting the shoulder-bands with the pendent roundels has a double running-wave pattern. The ornament is all in drab colour on a purple ground, which varies considerably i ntone in the different pieces. The patterns have all been specially woven for the use to which they have been put, the parts to be cut away in order to form the shaped outline being left plain.
The sleeves are now unpicked and left open, but the stitch mark clearly show how narrow the sleeve ends used to be. Each sleeve end is decorated with a blue and white striped silk panel and a button. The tunic is now fully lined with modern cloth.

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)


600 - 900 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Plain woven linen with pattern woven silk

Marks and inscriptions

Zachary or Zacharias
The signification of the name Zachariou on this stuff is uncertain. It occurs frequently on stuffs of this pattern; sometimes the name is Joseph. The suggestion that it is the name of the weaver is not likely, perhaps it is intended for the name of the rider, or of an official.


Height: 137.2 cm, Width: 210.5 cm incl. sleeves, Width: 110 cm hem

Object history note

V&A objects 813-1903 to 820-1903 inclusive purchased for £80 from Monsiuer L. Paul Philip, Cairo.

Historical context note

Silk tunic decoration comprises a second group of textiles assigned to Akhmim. One British Museum fragment (EA 20440) was acquired from Greville John Chester in 1886 and is said to come from Akhmim. The object is composed of two applied silk bands or clavi woven in purple and buff; the design consists of vegetal motifs divided by square compartments containing an eight-pointed ornament with floral devices at the ends. Numerous international institutions hold comparable shoulder and sleeve clavi and, when a findspot is registered, examples are said to be from Akhmim. Radiocarbon analysis of objects in other collections has yielded seventh- to tenth-century dates.

Descriptive line

Linen tunic with pattern woven purple and white silk decorations, Egypt, 600-900

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

Kendrick, A. F. Catalogue of Textiles from burying-grounds in Egypt. Vol III. Coptic period (London: HMSO / Victoria and Albert Museum, 1922), cat. 794, ill. frontispiece

Production Note

Probably from Akhmim


Linen; Silk


Plain weave; Patterned weave

Subjects depicted

Soldier; Bird; Rider; Foliage; Horse


Africa; Archaeology; Textiles; Clothing


Middle East Section

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