Dumbarton Oaks Microsite

Fragment from a Tunic Clavus

 
Accession numberBZ.1949.10
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–6th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 9.8 cm × W. (weft) 18.9 cm (3 7/8 × 7 7/16 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Gift of Marguerite Focillon, New Haven, CT, December 6, 1949; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

This rectangular fragment is rendered in tapestry weave and features rows of vegetal and animal motifs rendered in a purple-brown and yellow-tan. Dark, solid-colored bands enclose the decoration and are enclosed in turn by a scalloped border.

The shape of this fragment suggests it came from the clavus of a tunic. The design features highly stylized renditions of fish, floral motifs, and what appear to be swimming or dancing putti. The combination of motifs is generally considered part of a repertory of Nilotic scenes, meant to evoke bounty and wealth.See discussion in J. L. Ball, “Rich Interiors: The Remnant of a Hanging from Late Antique Egypt in the Collection of Dumbarton Oaks.” Though there are many examples of similarly styled clavi and sleevebands held in collections, a fragment in Riggisberg is an especially useful comparative because it has been carbon-dated to the fourth through sixth centuries.Riggisberg, Abegg-Stiftung, inv. 804: S. Schrenk, Textilien aus spätantiker bis frühislamischer Zeit (Riggisberg, 2004), 257–58, no. 102. Radiocarbon-dating information taken from publicly available results published on “Textile Dates” database, Abteilung Christliche Archäologie, Universität Bonn, http://ww.textile-dates.info/textile_list_start.php?textile_id=36. Another fragment at Dumbarton Oaks (BZ.1953.2.40) shares a similar aesthetic.

—Elizabeth Dospěl Williams, May 2019

 

Notes

Accession numberBZ.1949.10
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–6th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 9.8 cm × W. (weft) 18.9 cm (3 7/8 × 7 7/16 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Gift of Marguerite Focillon, New Haven, CT, December 6, 1949; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

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

Accession numberBZ.1949.10
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–6th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 9.8 cm × W. (weft) 18.9 cm (3 7/8 × 7 7/16 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Gift of Marguerite Focillon, New Haven, CT, December 6, 1949; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

D. Thompson, “Catalogue of Textiles in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection” (unpublished catalogue, Washington, DC, 1976), no. 120.

Accession numberBZ.1949.10
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–6th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 9.8 cm × W. (weft) 18.9 cm (3 7/8 × 7 7/16 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Gift of Marguerite Focillon, New Haven, CT, December 6, 1949; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.