Coptic Tapestry Fragment with Soldiers

£ 295.00

A rare Coptic, Late Roman, linen tapestry fragment displaying scenes of hunting soldiers. The tapestry depicts a soldier wearing a green belted sleeved tunic fighting a bear with a spear and shield. Another soldier, below, in a white tunic is shown on horseback, galloping with his arm raised. The soldiers are divided by helmeted heads, foliage, birds and forest animals. The band is framed with a white border and lies on a cherry red background. The decorative tapestry was highly likely to have been part of a tunic.

The fragment has been placed in a black frame on a cream silk background.

Size of actual fragment: L 25.0 cm x W 6.5 cm

Date: Circa 6th Century AD
Provenance: Property of a Kensington gentleman, acquired from Hermann Historica, Germany.
Condition: Fine condition, fragmented tapestry..


SKU: SM-34 Category: Tags: , , ,

The fabric was produced using the tabby and tapestry weave techniques, often using simple wide looms. Tapestry weaved adornments were woven into a basic linen fabric, allowing the weaver to achieve precise details. Linen had a long history in Egypt until the Greeks conquered the land in the 4th Century and introduced flocks of sheep. Wool was easier to dye than linen, easier to produce and provided more insulation. Despite this, linen remained the dominant fabric, and until Christianity was introduced, wool was forbidden to be used in Egyptian burials.

The earliest known examples of Coptic clothing are from 300 AD, at a time where Christianity rapidly spread through Egypt and clothing for both men and women became more decorative. Over time, ornaments were enlarged and decorated clothing became more popular. By the 6th Century, designs were becoming more stylised and depictions of humans became more admired in pictorial scenes. Natural elements, Christian symbolism and Roman iconography became more common design choices.

The fragment presented here was likely part of the sleeves of a tunic.  According to Dr. Raffaele D’Amato, the wide range of military characters, the red colour of the background and the hunting parties (which were associated with martial training of soldiers) indicate this item was a fragment of a military tunic of a high-ranking officer. Tunics of this type would often be highly decorated, to show power.

Weight 496 g
Dimensions L 31.0 x W 21.0 x H 2.0 cm





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