Dumbarton Oaks Microsite

Tunic Fragment

 
Accession numberBZ.1974.9
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 7th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 19.3 cm × W. (warp) 12.0 cm (7 5/8 × 4 3/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Collection of the Byzantine Institute, to 1974; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

This rectangular fragment features several bands of decoration in tapestry weave in beige, red, crimson, yellow, green, dark blue, yellow-tan, and light brown. At top, a register with rows of frontal faces interspersed with vegetal patterns appears beneath a border of circles resembling gemstones. The fragment preserves a colorful gemmed cross set above a gem-studded triangle ending with a round pendant depicting a face. Its top edge features a reinforced selvage, a detail that shows this was once the neckline of a tunic.

Gemstone motifs often appear on dress textiles, perhaps in emulation of actual gemstone-studded luxury garments.C. Fluck, “Gewebter Schmuck: Textile Schmuckimitationen aus spätantiker und frühbyzantinischer Zeit,” in 25,000 Jahre Schmuck aus den Sammlungen der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, ed. M. Eichhorn-Johannsen (Munich, 2013), 110–23. Two outstanding examples are today in Boston, Museum of Fine Arts: 46.401, http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/neck-ornament-48771; 46.402, http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/neck-ornament-48788. A tunic front in the Brooklyn Museum, for instance, depicts a pendant with a dancing figure set among a woven rendering of a beaded necklace ending in a gem-studded cross.Brooklyn Museum, 38.753, https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/48927: D. Thompson, Coptic Textiles in the Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, 1971), 82–83, no. 36. The Dumbarton Oaks example is particularly vividly rendered, with its jewel-toned motifs especially vibrant when set against dark blue and yellow grounds. The placement of the cross beneath the neckline, over the chest of the wearer, may have had a protective function (see BZ.1970.46 for another example). An identical textile is housed in the Museum der Kulturen, Basel.Basel, Museum der Kulturen, MKB III 17161: M. Müller, “The Cock, the Face and the Bell: Amuletic Jewellery of the Byzantine Period,” 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), 196, fig. 2.

—Elizabeth Dospěl Williams, May 2019

 

Notes

Accession numberBZ.1974.9
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 7th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 19.3 cm × W. (warp) 12.0 cm (7 5/8 × 4 3/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Collection of the Byzantine Institute, to 1974; 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.1974.9
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 7th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 19.3 cm × W. (warp) 12.0 cm (7 5/8 × 4 3/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Collection of the Byzantine Institute, to 1974; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

D. Thompson, “Catalogue of Textiles in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection” (unpublished catalogue, Washington, DC, 1976), no. 125.

Accession numberBZ.1974.9
Attribution and Date
Egypt, 7th–10th c.
Measurements

H. (weft) 19.3 cm × W. (warp) 12.0 cm (7 5/8 × 4 3/4 in.)

Technique and Material

Tapestry weave in polychrome wool and undyed linen

Acquisition history

Collection of the Byzantine Institute, to 1974; Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.