Dumbarton Oaks Microsite

Fragment of a Tunic Clavus

 
Accession numberBZ.1953.2.123
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 7th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 48.9 cm × W. (warp) 13.0 cm (19 1/4 × 5 1/8 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Crocker Collection, San Francisco, Mrs. William Henry Crocker (Ethel Willard Sperry Crocker, 1861–1934); Loaned to the San Francisco Museum of Art until 1953; Gift of Mrs. Andre de Limur (Ethel Mary Crocker de Limur, 1891–1964), Washington, DC, in 1953; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

This fragmentary clavus depicts a colorful vine scroll in tapestry weave in white-beige, red, light orange, orange, dark yellow, light green, green, blue-green, light blue, dark blue, and dark tan. A small nude human figure, a bird, and a quadruped appear amidst stylized renditions of foliage. The frame consists of an abstracted floral pattern set between stepped borders.

This clavus likely came from a dress textile. The highly abstracted nature of the motifs, the poor quality of the weaving, and the generally poor state of preservation all add to its unsettling and ambiguous visual effect. The overall design seems related to the inhabited vines seen on many late antique medallions (for example, BZ.1953.2.113 and BZ.1953.2.118), yet the weavers seem unconcerned with precisely rendering plants or animals, taking pleasure instead in peculiar shapes, unusual color combinations, and abstraction. The piece resembles BZ.1953.2.122 in its style and motifs. Clavi with similar coloration and abstracted motifs are seen on a nearly complete tunic now in London.London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 136-1891, http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O90760/tunic-unknown.

—Elizabeth Dospěl Williams, May 2019

 

Notes

Accession numberBZ.1953.2.123
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 7th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 48.9 cm × W. (warp) 13.0 cm (19 1/4 × 5 1/8 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Crocker Collection, San Francisco, Mrs. William Henry Crocker (Ethel Willard Sperry Crocker, 1861–1934); Loaned to the San Francisco Museum of Art until 1953; Gift of Mrs. Andre de Limur (Ethel Mary Crocker de Limur, 1891–1964), Washington, DC, in 1953; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

D. Thompson, “Catalogue of Textiles in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection” (unpublished catalogue, Washington, DC, 1976), no. 93.

Accession numberBZ.1953.2.123
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 7th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 48.9 cm × W. (warp) 13.0 cm (19 1/4 × 5 1/8 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Crocker Collection, San Francisco, Mrs. William Henry Crocker (Ethel Willard Sperry Crocker, 1861–1934); Loaned to the San Francisco Museum of Art until 1953; Gift of Mrs. Andre de Limur (Ethel Mary Crocker de Limur, 1891–1964), Washington, DC, in 1953; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.