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  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)
    Akhmim (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. AD300-700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tanned leather decorated with gold leaf, incising and openwork.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

A flat, dark leather shoe. Egyptian, ca. AD 300-700 (probably). Decorated with gold leaf, incising and openwork geometric and floral designs. Made using the turned technique with rand. These shoes were acquired from H.Wallis Esq.

Coptic footwear was generally made of leather, primarily using the turned technique to produce a slipper or shoe with a straight sole. Slippers often included a rand at the vamp and a fibre padded sole sewn together with prominent stitching or insole tab. They show variation in the form and height of the instep. Shoes were generally slip-ons and also show variation in the form and height of the instep. Footwear was highly decorated in geometric and floral designs. Often a variety of techniques were used in combination with the most popular being dyeing, gilding, openwork and appliqué.

Physical description

A flat shoe of dark leather. Egyptian, ca. AD 300-700 (probably). Possibly semi-pointed toe (now missing) and round heel. Turned technique with rand (2mm). Sole: Straight.Covered in white, spotted residue. Seat scraped and worn with small holes at tread. Upper: Cord stitching sole to upper remains (running stitch). Left quarter damaged. Covered in white sparkly residue. Vamp highly decorated. Large medallion over toe of floral (spade-shaped leaves and five petalled leaves) openwork on gilded background (now mostly gone). Between medallion and instep is an incised, interlaced waves and cutout dots/circles pattern. Once of a different colour as layer beneath was exposed; also a V shaped strip of applied leather; then incised lines in a V shape, criss-crossing between two bordered lines and having cutout dots/circles inbetween; then another line of applied leather. Then instep (high throat and pointed) finishes with an oval shaped knop that has broken off. Knop has incised lines and a central openwork of a figure 8 in the centre. Heel: Strip of leather between quarters. Two incised lines follow quarters' edge from vamp to heel and end in more incised decoration. Either side of backseam are four vertical lines (2 close together). Between the lines are incised criss-crossing diagonal lines. One line, incised from left, angles up to right while two lines, incised from left, angle down to right. Openwork dots between these lines. Heel has a separate piece of semi-circular leather coming up from the rand and is 15mm wide over the backseam.

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)
Akhmim (probably, made)


ca. AD300-700 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Tanned leather decorated with gold leaf, incising and openwork.


Width: 95 mm tread, Width: 75 mm waist, Width: 80 mm seat, Height: 65 mm heel, Thickness: 2 mm heel, Thickness: 3 mm sole

Object history note

Objects 2-1888 to 9-1888 bought together for £12, from Henry Wallis.

Descriptive line

A flat, dark leather shoe. Egyptian, ca. AD300-700 (probably). Decorated with gold leaf, incising and openwork geometric and floral designs.

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

See R. Smalley, "Dating Coptic Footwear: A Typological and Comparative Approach", Journal of Coptic Studies 14 (2012): 97-135


Leather; Gold leaf


Tanning; Gilding; Incising; Openwork; Dyeing


Archaeology; Death; Africa; Footwear


Middle East Section

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