Coptic textiles, whose production began in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD in Egypt, were hand woven with unbleached linen warps and dyed wool wefts. The majority that have survived, were used to decorate tunics; a clothing staple of the time. Influenced by a fusion of cultures and history, Coptic textiles evolved with history. During the Early Coptic period (3rd – 4th centuries AD), the primary decorative themes were taken from nature and Classical mythology, with Hellenistic tradition still popular. By the Middle Coptic period (5th – 7th centuries AD), depictions included abstract natural elements and Christian symbolism. The third period of textiles refers to the period of Islamic dominance, when the Copts were still able to survive despite their oppression.
Coptic Textile Fragment with Dancers and Zoomorphic Figure
A small Egyptian Coptic textile fragment woven in black wool onto coarse, unbleached linen. The fragment depicts several bands of decorative designs. The piece is composed of two arcaded trefoil borders, framing a circular medallion. The medallion displays a zoomorphic figure, possibly a hare, enclosed by foliated scrolls. Two human figures are portrayed dancing, each with one arm raised, placed above the medallion. This fragment could have easily been part of a tunic as a decoration.
Period: Coptic Period
Condition: Very fine with clear and visible details. Several holes to the linen.