About this artwork
Because many textiles made by early Egyptians were preserved in arid tombs, a substantial number of these fabrics have survived in remarkably good condition. This striking portion of a wall hanging depicts a figure standing beneath a colonnaded, arched opening. With raised arms, which perhaps once held candelabrum, he wears a traditional tunic with clavic bands (the narrow strips extending down from the shoulders, on the front and back, to the waist or hem). This woven piece is distinguished by its large size, imposing composition, and brilliant, unfaded shades of red, green, blue, brown, and yellow. The figure’s commanding frontality, solemn expression, and animated side glance, together with the composition’s bold lines and vivid colors, relate this fragment to hauntingly realistic portrait icons. Also suggestive of icons is the three-dimensional appearance of the warrior’s face and legs and the columns—an effect much easier to achieve in painting than in weaving. Woven of indigenous materials, this hanging is composed of linen warps and wool and linen wefts that create an uncut pile against a plain-weave foundation, a fabric surface less common in Byzantine textiles than the tapestry weave.
Currently Off View
- Fragment (Hanging)
- Made 401 CE–600 CE
- Linen and wool, plain weave with weft uncut pile and embroidered linen pile formed by variations of back and stem stitches
- 136.5 × 88.3 cm (53 3/4 × 34 3/4 in.)
- Grace R. Smith Textile Endowment