Dumbarton Oaks Microsite

Fragment of a Hanging or Cover with Branches and Leaves

 
Accession numberBZ.1940.41
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–5th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 24.0 cm × W. (warp) 15.2 cm (9 7/16 × 6 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Düsseldorf Collection; Collection of Theodore E. Merrill (sale May 22, 1940, no. L30); Robert Woods and Mildred Barnes Bliss, Dumbarton Oaks; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC, 1940.

Detailed dimensions

Height: 24.0 cm (weft direction)

Width: 15.2 cm (warp direction)

 

Materials

Warp: Linen, single spun S-direction (S), 2/3 alternating, 6–7/cm; undyed

Weft: Wool, single spun S-direction (S), 18–44/cm; yellow, orange, blue, green, brown. Linen, single spun S-direction (S), 34–40/cm; undyed. Linen, single spun S-direction (S), paired, 14–20/cm; undyed.

 

Technique

Tapestry weave

 

Discussion

Along the top edge of this fragment, the wool and linen weft was carried around the same warp, creating a finished edge with the appearance of a selvage. A comparison with more complete examples of this type indicates that the weaving might have continued here and that the finished edge could be part of a long slit created within the tapestry weave, which would have been joined with stitches to the continuing weave (this is especially noticeable in Metropolitan Museum of Art, 22.124.3–4). To further enrich the color palette of the wool weft, additional hues were achieved with yarns of different color blends. For the medium blue, two differently colored blue fibers were combined. The striped effect of the seedpod was created by alternating orange wool with undyed linen weft. The brown wool weft used for the outlines is of finer quality than the remaining wool weft, resulting in a higher weft count in these areas. The undyed linen weft in the leaves is paired.

 

Condition

This weaving is a fragment of a larger textile. The surface is worn, and there is warp and weft loss throughout. The edges are fragile, and the color preservation of the wool weft is compromised.

 

Conservation history

Stitched to a fabric-covered stretcher frame

 

—Kathrin Colburn, May 2019

 
Accession numberBZ.1940.41
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–5th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 24.0 cm × W. (warp) 15.2 cm (9 7/16 × 6 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Düsseldorf Collection; Collection of Theodore E. Merrill (sale May 22, 1940, no. L30); Robert Woods and Mildred Barnes Bliss, Dumbarton Oaks; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC, 1940.

Buds, flowers, and leaves are popular decorative motifs on textiles produced in Egypt. They are found alone, in rows, in clusters, and entwined with other images on domestic furnishings and clothing. Some can be connected to specific classical and Christian traditions. Others that survive as single images can best be understood as representing abundance and the good life. Here, the design of a red vine outlined in black twining among buds and a seedpod closely resembles three fragments with the same pattern in the collection of the Abegg-Stiftung in Riggisberg.Riggisberg, Abegg-Stiftung, inv. 421 a, d, e: S. Schrenk, Textilien des Mittelmeerraumes aus spätantiker bis frühislamischer Zeit (Riggisberg, 2004), 39–41, no. 4. On those, the vine extends to entwine pomegranate fruits. The pointed red and pink motifs here and on those pieces may be pomegranate flower buds. Thompson recognized that the weave allowed the design to be used vertically, perhaps to represent the decoration of a column.D. Thompson, “Catalogue of Textiles in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection” (unpublished catalogue, Washington, DC, 1976), no. 32. A column with a twining vine with pomegranates  appears on the Abegg-Stiftung’s Dionysian hanging.Riggisberg, Abegg-Stiftung, inv. 3100 a: Schrenk, Textilien des Mittelmeerraumes, 26–34, no. 1.

—Helen C. Evans and Brandie Ratliff, May 2019

 

Notes

Accession numberBZ.1940.41
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–5th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 24.0 cm × W. (warp) 15.2 cm (9 7/16 × 6 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Düsseldorf Collection; Collection of Theodore E. Merrill (sale May 22, 1940, no. L30); Robert Woods and Mildred Barnes Bliss, Dumbarton Oaks; 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), 155–57.

D. Thompson, “Catalogue of Textiles in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection” (unpublished catalogue, Washington, DC, 1976), no. 32.

Accession numberBZ.1940.41
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–5th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 24.0 cm × W. (warp) 15.2 cm (9 7/16 × 6 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Düsseldorf Collection; Collection of Theodore E. Merrill (sale May 22, 1940, no. L30); Robert Woods and Mildred Barnes Bliss, Dumbarton Oaks; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC, 1940.