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.
Large Coptic Textile Band with Rosettes and Geometric Motifs
A large Egyptian Coptic textile fragment woven in burgundy wool onto coarse, unbleached linen. The fragment depicts three bands of decorative designs. The central band is composed of eight medallions, each featuring a rosette. Fine geometric motifs fill the empty spaces, acting as filler ornaments. The design is further embellished with a frieze of smaller floral medallions interspersed with interlocking scrolls on either side of the central panel. The design is enriched with two crenelated borders. This fragment could have easily been part of a tunic as a decoration.
Period: Coptic Period
Provenance: Property of a Mayfair, London, UK, ancient art collector; acquired in the 1970s-1980s.
Condition: Part of the interlacing is lost due to ageing and ware, fine details on parts of the textile.