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 Rosettes and Crosses
An Egyptian Coptic textile fragment woven in brown wool onto a darker brown linen. The fragment depicts three bands of decorative designs. The middle panel features two medallions, each enriched with a central rosette and a cross at its centre. Fine geometric motifs fill the empty spaces, acting as filler ornaments. The design is further embellished with a frieze of crosses interspersed with interlocking scrolls on either side of the inner panel. This fragment could have easily been part of a tunic as a decoration.
Period: Coptic Period
Provenance: From the collection of a London ancient art specialist; from a collection acquired in the 1970s and 1980s.
Condition: Very fine with fabric completely intact and clean.