Panel From a Tunic thumbnail 1
Panel From a Tunic thumbnail 2
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Panel From a Tunic

6th Century - 7th Century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This panel, possibly from a linen tunic, was probably cut from a larger piece at the time of excavation. It is an example of the thousands of garments and other textiles buried with the dead in graves along the banks of the Nile in Egypt, which were excavated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The panel has a classical subject, which may be intended to represent Hephaestus forging the armour of Achilles, from Greek mythology. Scenes from both Greek and Roman mythology were often used on Egyptian textiles and costume, and continued to remain popular into the early Christian period.

The use of wool for the decorations of furnishings and dress was mainly the result of the difficulty of dyeing linen, the other main fibre used in Egypt. Plain linen tunics and hangings were freqently discarded by early excavators and only the coloured wool decorations retained.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Tapestry-woven wool and undyed linen
Brief Description
Tapestry woven panel depicting Hephaestus / Vulcan forging the arms of Achilles, dark purple wool and undyed linen, possibly 6th or 7th Century
Physical Description
Tapestry-woven panel, in dark purple wool over undyed linen, with details on the figures in undyed linen in flying shuttle technique. The panel depicts a scene from Book 18 of the Iliad, of the forging of the arms of Achilles. The centre of the scene shows the god Hephaestus / Vulcan bent over a forge, raising a hammer, with Achilles standing behind and a third figure, possibly Thetis, sat in front.
Dimensions
  • Height: 12.5cm
  • Width: 12.5cm
Style
Credit line
Given by Mr Robert Taylor
Subjects depicted
Summary
This panel, possibly from a linen tunic, was probably cut from a larger piece at the time of excavation. It is an example of the thousands of garments and other textiles buried with the dead in graves along the banks of the Nile in Egypt, which were excavated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.



The panel has a classical subject, which may be intended to represent Hephaestus forging the armour of Achilles, from Greek mythology. Scenes from both Greek and Roman mythology were often used on Egyptian textiles and costume, and continued to remain popular into the early Christian period.



The use of wool for the decorations of furnishings and dress was mainly the result of the difficulty of dyeing linen, the other main fibre used in Egypt. Plain linen tunics and hangings were freqently discarded by early excavators and only the coloured wool decorations retained.
Bibliographic References
  • A. F. Kendrick, Catalogue of Textiles from Burying Grounds in Egypt, I (London, 1920), No. 41 Pl. 12
  • S. Lewis, 'A Coptic Representation of Thetis at the Forge of Hephaistos', American Journal of Archaeology 77.3 (1973), 309-318
Collection
Accession Number
2140-1900

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record createdFebruary 10, 2004
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