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Fragment of a Hanging

 
Accession numberBZ.1953.2.60
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 5th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 16.5 cm × W. (warp) 19.7 cm (6 1/2 × 7 3/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen on plain-weave ground in 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.

Detailed dimensions

Height: 16.5 cm (weft direction)

Width: 19.7 cm (warp direction)

 

Materials

Composition: Tapestry weave

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

Weft: Wool, single spun S-direction, 22–36/cm; beige (undyed?), yellow, orange, pink, green, blue, red-brown. Linen, single spun S-direction (S), 28/cm; undyed.

 

Ground: Plain weave

Warp: Linen, single spun S-direction (S), 22–24/cm; undyed

Weft: Linen, single spun S-direction (S), 10/cm; undyed

 

Technique

Tapestry weave on plain weave ground

 

Discussion

This fragment with a tree motif was woven in tapestry weave. Color junctures were achieved with small slits; non-horizontal wefts create contours. Along the right edge, a small remnant of plain weave is preserved, indicating that the composition was woven into a field of plain-weave ground in undyed linen. Alternating paired and triple warps create a distinctive ribbed effect.

 

Condition

This is a fragment of a larger textile, with warp and weft loss throughout. There are holes, and the edges are fragile. A small fragment in the lower center of the weaving appears to have been inserted, as it is not continuous with the surrounding areas. A remnant of a plain-weave ground is preserved on the right edge. The warps along the bottom edge have discolored to a darker brown compared to the lighter, better-preserved warps in the upper part of the weaving. The color preservation of the wool weft is good.

 

Conservation history

Removed from backing, cleaned, and remounted (1976); stitched to a fabric support (2003)

 

—Kathrin Colburn, May 2019

 
Accession numberBZ.1953.2.60
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 5th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 16.5 cm × W. (warp) 19.7 cm (6 1/2 × 7 3/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen on plain-weave ground in 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.

Large trees, suggestive of gardens and paradise, were popular motifs on furnishing textiles from the late antique period into the Byzantine and Islamic eras in Egypt.J. Ball, “Textile Fragment with Tree,” in Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition, 7th–9th Century, ed. H. C. Evans and B. Ratliff (New York, 2012), 13; A. Stauffer, “Le jardin aux arbres: De l’origine et de la signification des tentures à motifs d’arbres de l’Antiquité tardive,” in Textiles d’Egypte de la collection Bouvier: Antiquité tardive, période copte, premiers temps de l’Islam = Textilien aus Ägypten aus der Sammlung Bouvier: Spätantike, koptische und frühislamische Gewebe (Fribourg, 1991), 35–53. The narrow pointed leaves and the open fruit with seeds on this fragment represent the pomegranate (Punica granatum).A representative image can be found at https://images.app.goo.gl/yRrnxb5mjESrCYmD9. A similar pomegranate tree appears among a variety of trees on a wall hanging in St. Gallen.Stauffer, “Le jardin aux arbres,” 38–39, figs. 3–4. Another is in the collection of the Louvre.Paris, Musée du Louvre, AF 12137: Ball, “Textile Fragment with Tree,” 13. As pomegranates are bushy trees, their ball-like shape on these textiles suggests that they are depicted as topiaries trained for a garden setting.

—Helen C. Evans and Brandie Ratliff, May 2019

 

Notes

Accession numberBZ.1953.2.60
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 5th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 16.5 cm × W. (warp) 19.7 cm (6 1/2 × 7 3/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen on plain-weave ground in 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. 33.

Accession numberBZ.1953.2.60
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 5th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 16.5 cm × W. (warp) 19.7 cm (6 1/2 × 7 3/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen on plain-weave ground in 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.