Textile Fragment thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Textile Fragment

4th Century - 5th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Fragment from the centre of either a hanging or cover, tapestry woven in wool on linen warp (7 warp ends/cm). Although only a small portion remains here, the other fragments of this piece (see object production note) show that the textile was based on a symmetrical arrangement of registers. These are outlined below, although not all are present on this fragment.

1. Three wreath-like bands of leaves on a black ground, with each band containing alternating pairs of orange and green leaves, with a blossom every six leaves. Between these two registers are birds standing on branches, on a cherry-red ground. Based on the composition of the Metropolitan Museum fragment (see Object Production Note), the birds would have been in a pair facing each other with a basket of grapes betwen them.

Information from Hartley et al. (see references): The paired bird motif would have repeated twice across the width of the textile, and three times down its length.

2. Below this series is a register of five bands. The top and botom are again based on wreaths, with two-tone leaves alternating green, red, blue and orange in sets of four. The second and fourth bands are based on jewellery in gold with almond-shaped gemstones in green, red and blue. The middle register is perhaps also based on weath designs, with alternating blocks of colour like the outer bands, but far more geometic. The Metropolitan Museum fragment shows that a similar register would have been placed above the bird registers also.

3. At the bottom of the fragment is a wider individual bands of leaves and roses, both face on and, in the outer borders, shown in profile.

Object details

Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Tapestry woven linen and wool
Brief description
Fragment from a hanging or cover, tapestry woven linen and wool, Akhmim, Egypt, 4th Century - 5th Century
Physical description
Fragment from the centre of either a hanging or cover, tapestry woven in wool on linen warp (7 warp ends/cm). Although only a small portion remains here, the other fragments of this piece (see object production note) show that the textile was based on a symmetrical arrangement of registers. These are outlined below, although not all are present on this fragment.

1. Three wreath-like bands of leaves on a black ground, with each band containing alternating pairs of orange and green leaves, with a blossom every six leaves. Between these two registers are birds standing on branches, on a cherry-red ground. Based on the composition of the Metropolitan Museum fragment (see Object Production Note), the birds would have been in a pair facing each other with a basket of grapes betwen them.

Information from Hartley et al. (see references): The paired bird motif would have repeated twice across the width of the textile, and three times down its length.

2. Below this series is a register of five bands. The top and botom are again based on wreaths, with two-tone leaves alternating green, red, blue and orange in sets of four. The second and fourth bands are based on jewellery in gold with almond-shaped gemstones in green, red and blue. The middle register is perhaps also based on weath designs, with alternating blocks of colour like the outer bands, but far more geometic. The Metropolitan Museum fragment shows that a similar register would have been placed above the bird registers also.

3. At the bottom of the fragment is a wider individual bands of leaves and roses, both face on and, in the outer borders, shown in profile.

Styles
Marks and inscriptions
  • Transliteration
Object history
Purchased from the Reverend Greville J. Chester.
Production
Another piece in the V&A, 267-1889, comes from the lower left of the textile. A fragment in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (90.5.153) comes from the same piece and appears to join directly above that fragment. Hartley et. al (see references) estimate the original complete size of the cover as c. 272 x 210 cm. They identify it as a mattress cover rather than hanging.
Association
Bibliographic reference
E. Hartley, J. Hawkes, M. Henig with F. Mee, Constantine The Great: York's Roman Emperor (York, 2006): 188 No. 169 discusses this piece briefly in the context of the other fragment 267-1889, which was displayed in that exhibition.
Collection
Accession number
268-1889

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Record createdJune 24, 2009
Record URL
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