Dumbarton Oaks Microsite

Child’s Tunic

 
Accession numberBZ.1970.46
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 51.0 cm × W. (weft, sleeve to sleeve) 53.5 cm (20 1/16 × 21 1/16 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool with embroidery in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Collection of the Byzantine Institute, to 1970; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

This small, largely intact tunic features added decorative elements in tapestry weave and embroidery on a brown ground; there is significant soiling throughout the fabric. The neckline and sleeves of the tunic feature remnants of tapestry-woven decoration in red with crisscross details in beige. A small cross in light pink, pink, green, light blue, and blue is embroidered just beneath the curved neckline. The back of the tunic, near the neck, is similarly embroidered. There are small holes throughout and elements of patching, especially along the bottom.

The tiny size of this tunic indicates that it was for an infant or toddler; the particular style of the neckline, which is cut open and reinforced on the right side, accommodated a small child’s head, and was probably once buttoned.For a recent study on infant and child tunics, see A. Kwaspen and C. Verhecken-Lammens, “Measurements and Fitting of Egyptian Children’s Tunics of the 1st Millennium AD,” in Textiles, Tools and Techniques of the 1st Millennium AD from Egypt and Neighbouring Countries: Proceedings of the 8th Conference of the Research Group “Textiles from the Nile Valley,” Antwerp, 4–6 October 2013, ed. A. De Moor, C. Fluck, and P. Linscheid (Tielt, 2015), 152–67. The Dumbarton Oaks tunic is most similar in shape, cut, and proportions to a small wool tunic in Manchester: Whitworth Art Gallery, T.8377, http://gallerysearch.ds.man.ac.uk/Detail/22410: ibid., 160–63, fig. 15. The condition of the tunic suggests it was well-worn in life, and possibly repaired in antiquity. With their red ground and beige motifs, the decorative elements of the neck and sleeves reflected popular styles of adult dress, which in turn emulated silks (see BZ.1953.2.6 for further discussion). The placement of the embroidered crosses, likely added on at home, over the child’s neck and back were probably intended to have a protective function.

—Elizabeth Dospěl Williams, May 2019

 

Notes

Accession numberBZ.1970.46
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 51.0 cm × W. (weft, sleeve to sleeve) 53.5 cm (20 1/16 × 21 1/16 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool with embroidery in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Collection of the Byzantine Institute, to 1970; 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.1970.46
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 51.0 cm × W. (weft, sleeve to sleeve) 53.5 cm (20 1/16 × 21 1/16 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool with embroidery in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Collection of the Byzantine Institute, to 1970; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

D. Thompson, “Catalogue of Textiles in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection” (unpublished catalogue, Washington, DC, 1976), no. 156.

Accession numberBZ.1970.46
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 51.0 cm × W. (weft, sleeve to sleeve) 53.5 cm (20 1/16 × 21 1/16 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool with embroidery in polychrome wool

Acquisition history

Collection of the Byzantine Institute, to 1970; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.