Dumbarton Oaks Microsite

Fragment of a Hanging or Cover

 
Accession numberBZ.1953.2.99
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 6th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 48.9 cm × W. (weft) 89.2 cm (19 1/4 × 35 1/8 in.)

Technique and Material

Plain-weave ground in undyed linen with brocading 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 rectangular fragment features geometric and bird motifs in brocade on plain-weave ground in beige, pink, yellow, green, and dark brown. It preserves selvages on three sides, including the remnants of a fringe at top. The main field consists of birds set in octagonal frames with heart motifs. The surrounding field features scattered spade and square motifs. This central field is framed by a border with zigzag and diamond motifs. The upper edge of the fabric preserves two rows of geometric designs resembling abstracted stars. There are losses in the weft designs throughout the fabric.

The size and shape of this fragment indicate it was a furnishing fabric, one of a group with large-format designs in brocading.See, for example, two pieces at the Coptic Museum, 12714 and 12757: C. Naeurth, “Furnishing Textiles in the Cairo Coptic Museum,” in Clothing the House: Furnishing Textiles of the 1st Millennium AD from Egypt and Neighbouring Countries; Proceedings of the 5th Conference of the Research Group “Textiles from the Nile Valley,” Antwerp, 6–7 October 2007, ed. A. De Moor and C. Fluck (Tielt, 2009), 110–11, figs. 16–18. Many feature central fields with repeating geometric designs, sometimes arranged in lattice or diamond shapes and interspersed with floral motifs. In this sense they share visual similarities to silks, which similarly featured octagonal or circular medallions repeating in a central field. A particularly compelling parallel to the Dumbarton Oaks piece is found in Copenhagen, which features repeating octagonal designs in a central field, though the patterning is more intricate and colorful.Copenhagen, David Collection, 12/1988, https://www.davidmus.dk/en/collections/islamic/materials/textiles/art/12-1988. A nearly complete piece in Antwerp that exhibits technical and stylistic similarities to the Dumbarton Oaks fragment has been radiocarbon dated between the eighth and ninth centuries.Antwerp, Katoen Natie, 152: A. De Moor, M. Van Strydonck, M. Boudin, and D. Bénazeth, “Radiocarbon Dating of Brocaded Furnishing Textiles and Tunics from Katoen Natie and the Musée du Louvre,” in Dress Accessories of the 1st Millennium AD from Egypt: Proceedings of the 6th Conference of the Research Group “Textiles from the Nile Valley,” Antwerp, 2–3 October 2009, ed. A. De Moor and C. Fluck (Tielt, 2011), 269.

—Elizabeth Dospěl Williams, May 2019

 

Notes

Accession numberBZ.1953.2.99
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 6th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 48.9 cm × W. (weft) 89.2 cm (19 1/4 × 35 1/8 in.)

Technique and Material

Plain-weave ground in undyed linen with brocading 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. 25.

Accession numberBZ.1953.2.99
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 6th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 48.9 cm × W. (weft) 89.2 cm (19 1/4 × 35 1/8 in.)

Technique and Material

Plain-weave ground in undyed linen with brocading 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.