Dumbarton Oaks Microsite

Tunic Clavus

 
Accession numberBZ.1933.12
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 5th–7th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 70.8 cm × W. (warp) 26 cm (27 7/8 × 10 1/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Tano Collection, Cairo; Robert Woods and Mildred Barnes Bliss, purchase (through Frances Morris), 1932; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC, 1940.

The fragment is rendered in tapestry weave in brown-beige, pink, red, yellow, green, light purple, and purple-blue. At center, a wide band features a running vine scroll, dominated by six medallions. The medallions depict, from top to bottom, a male warrior figure holding a shield and weapon; a dark-skinned female bust; animals (possibly hares); a basket with fruit or leaves; a nude figure, similar to the one represented in the topmost medallion but surrounded instead by floral motifs; and a bird (?) figure set against a red background.

The size of this fragment and the shape of the band point to this piece’s original function as a clavus band from a tunic. The design is especially notable for its colorful palate, with design details in an array of primary colors. The jagged edges of several medallions are an unusual feature and add an element of visual dynamism to the playful design. A fragment likely from the same textile is held in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum.Brooklyn Museum, 38.756, https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/48930: D. Thompson, Coptic Textiles in The Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, 1971), 78–79, no. 34. The piece can also be compared with a complete tunic in Mainz, which features a nearly identical color scheme and iconography.Mainz, Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, O.37618: P. Linscheid, Die frühbyzantinischen Textilien des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums (Mainz, 2016), 59–60, no. 2.

—Elizabeth Dospěl Williams, May 2019

 

Notes

Accession numberBZ.1933.12
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 5th–7th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 70.8 cm × W. (warp) 26 cm (27 7/8 × 10 1/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Tano Collection, Cairo; Robert Woods and Mildred Barnes Bliss, purchase (through Frances Morris), 1932; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC, 1940.

Washington, DC, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Ornament: Fragments of Byzantine Fashion, September 10, 2019—January 5, 2020.

Accession numberBZ.1933.12
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 5th–7th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 70.8 cm × W. (warp) 26 cm (27 7/8 × 10 1/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Tano Collection, Cairo; Robert Woods and Mildred Barnes Bliss, purchase (through Frances Morris), 1932; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC, 1940.

F. Morris, “Catalogue of Textile Fabrics, The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection” (unpublished catalogue, Washington, DC, 1940), 193.

D. Thompson, “Catalogue of Textiles in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection” (unpublished catalogue, Washington, DC, 1976), no. 117.

D. Thompson, “‘Miniaturization’ as a Design Principle in Late Coptic Textiles of the Islamic Period: Observations on the Classification of Coptic Textiles,” JARCE 22 (1985): fig. 5.

Accession numberBZ.1933.12
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 5th–7th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 70.8 cm × W. (warp) 26 cm (27 7/8 × 10 1/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Tano Collection, Cairo; Robert Woods and Mildred Barnes Bliss, purchase (through Frances Morris), 1932; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC, 1940.