Dumbarton Oaks Microsite

Square (Segmentum)

 
Accession numberBZ.1972.8
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–7th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 11.5 cm × W. (weft) 11.0 cm (4 1/2 × 4 5/16 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Collection of Royall Tyler (1884–1953), Paris; Gift of his son, William R. Tyler (1910–2003), Washington, DC, in 1972; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

This square fragment is woven in tapestry weave in shades of beige, light blue, blue, and brown. At center, a medallion encloses a group of human figures who appear clustered around a central personage. The corners between the medallion and the outer frame feature birds. The square is framed with a wave-crest that runs on all four sides.

The small size of this fragment indicates that it likely came from a garment. Though it is dominated by shades of beige and brown today, the textile originally featured a very different color scheme which has since faded. With its dancing figures, the iconographic details of this piece link it to representations of Dionysian celebration. The figure at the top may represent the god himself wearing a cape and holding a bunch of grapes in his right hand; the figures flanking him to the left and right hold accoutrements associated with his worship, including a bowl and shepherd’s crook. The textile is especially notable for its sophisticated use of space: the weavers have placed the central figures in dynamic poses with great sensitivity to movement and depth.

—Elizabeth Dospěl Williams, May 2019

 

Notes

Accession numberBZ.1972.8
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–7th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 11.5 cm × W. (weft) 11.0 cm (4 1/2 × 4 5/16 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Collection of Royall Tyler (1884–1953), Paris; Gift of his son, William R. Tyler (1910–2003), Washington, DC, in 1972; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

D. Thompson, “Catalogue of Textiles in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection” (unpublished catalogue, Washington, DC, 1976), no. 17.

D. Thompson, “Rare Coptic Textiles with Bucolic and Mythological Iconography,” BullCIETA 57/58 (1983): fig. 2.

Accession numberBZ.1972.8
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 4th–7th c.
Measurements

H. (warp) 11.5 cm × W. (weft) 11.0 cm (4 1/2 × 4 5/16 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Collection of Royall Tyler (1884–1953), Paris; Gift of his son, William R. Tyler (1910–2003), Washington, DC, in 1972; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.