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Coptic and Islamic textiles and relief panels from Egypt



Egyptian Chronology


Egyptian Chronology
      Date          Culture          Duration     
11 000 BC Jebel Sahaba  
Before 8 000 BC - Palaeolithic in Europe and Northern Asia
8 000 BC - Nominal end of the Ice Age
8 600 - 4 400 BC Nabta Playa Neolithic 4 200 years
6 100 - 5 180 BC    Qarunian (formerly known as Fayum B)     920 years
5 200 - 4 200 BC Fayum A 1 000 years
4 800 - 4 200 BC Merimde 600 years
4 600 - 4 400 BC El Omari 200 years
4 400 - 4 000 BC Badarian 400 years
4 000 - 3 300 BC Maadi 700 years
4 000 - 3 500 BC Naqada I 500 years
3 500 - 3 200 BC Naqada II 300 years
3 200 - 3 100 BC Naqada III 100 years
3 100 - 2 670 BC Early Dynastic 586 years
2 670 - 2 181 BC Old Kingdom 505 years
2 181 - 2 025 BC First Intermediate Period 156 years
2 025 - 1 700 BC Middle Kingdom 325 years
1 700 - 1 550 BC Second Intermediate Period 150 years
1 550 - 1 077 BC New Kingdom 473 years
1 077 - 664 BC Third Intermediate Period 413 years
664 - 525 BC Late Period 139 years
525 - 404 BC First Persian Period 121 years
404 - 343 BC Late Dynastic Period 61 years
343 - 332 BC Second Persian Period 11 years
332 - 305 BC Macedonian Period 27 years
305 - 30 BC Ptolemaic Period 275 years
30 BC - 395 AD Roman Period 425 years
395 AD - 640 AD Byzantine Period 245 years
640 AD - 1517 AD Islamic Period 877 years
1517 AD - 1867 AD Ottoman Period
(French Occupation 1798-1801)
350 years
1867 AD - 1914 AD Khedival Period 47 years
1914 AD - 1922 AD Sultanate under Hussein Kamel,
as a British Protectorate
8 years
1922 AD - 1953 AD Monarchy 31 years
1953 AD - Present Day Republic  


Table of dates for the history of Egypt, adapted from various sources.


A remarkable number of Coptic textiles survive today, due to the Coptic custom of burying them with the dead, and to the aridity of Egyptian graves. The textiles are commonly linen or wool and use the colours red, blue, yellow, green, purple, black and brown. The dyes were derived from madder, indigo, woad, saffron, the murex shell, and the kermes insect.

The first looms used were horizontal low-warp; vertical high-warp looms were introduced later. The basic garment was the tunic, which would become the dalmatic, a wide-sleeved long, loose vestment open at the sides. Some tunics were woven in one piece. They were decorated by clavi, vertical strips of ornamentation, a stylistic import from Rome.

Some fine examples of the Coptic textile are shown in museums all over the world and a large collection is in the Coptic Museum in Coptic Cairo. Tens of thousands of coloured fragments found their way into the museums of the world, especially after 1889 when the French archaeologist Albert Gayet published a catalogue of Coptic art and, in the Bulaq Museum, staged the first exhibition of Coptic monuments.

The early Coptic textiles still produced pictures and decoration incorporating Egyptian and Greek motifs. Shrouds, for example, might incorporate classical elements painted in the form of an Egyptian sarcophagus and include representations of Egyptian gods to protect the dead. Later coptic textiles showed the influence of Byzantium and later, Islamic art.
Text above: Wikipedia



Coptic textiles
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Medallion

Medallion with dancing Erote, 4th - 5th centuries AD.

The Erotes are a group of winged gods associated with love and sex in Greek mythology.

Catalog: Wool and linen, ÄS 7239
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München
Additional text: Wikipedia




Coptic textiles Coptic textiles


Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Medallions

Two Medallions with dancing pairs among grapevines (bucolic motif), 4th - 5th centuries AD.

Catalog: Wool and linen, ÄS 7242, ÄS 5964
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic textiles, whose production began in the third and fourth centuries AD in Egypt, were hand woven with unbleached linen warps and dyed wool wefts and frequently featured woollen tapestry decoration. Men's garments were done in sedate colours with monochrome interlace motifs while women favoured floral and figural decorations. During the Early Coptic period (3rd - 4th centuries AD) , the primary decorative themes were taken from nature and mythology. By the middle period (5th - 7th centuries AD), depictions included abstract natural elements and Christian symbolism.

Text above: Deacon & McFarland (2014)

Coptic medallion
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Medallion

Orphrey (highly detailed embroidery, in which typically simple materials are made into complex patterns) from a tunic: medallion showing a kneeling man with a halo, 4th - 5th centuries AD.

Catalog: Wool and linen, ÄS 5984
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München
Additional text: Wikipedia




Coptic figure
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Maenad

Fragment of a tunic with a dancing Maenad, 4th - 5th centuries AD.

In Greek mythology, maenads were the female followers of Dionysus and the most significant members of the Thiasus, the god's retinue. Their name literally translates as 'raving ones'. Maenads were known as Bassarids, Bacchae, or Bacchantes in Roman mythology after the penchant of the equivalent Roman god, Bacchus, to wear a bassaris or fox-skin.

Often the maenads were portrayed as inspired by Dionysus into a state of ecstatic frenzy through a combination of dancing and intoxication. During these rites, the maenads would dress in fawn skins and carry a thyrsus, a long stick wrapped in ivy or vine leaves and tipped with a pine cone. They would weave ivy-wreaths around their heads or wear a bull helmet in honour of their god, and often handle or wear snakes.

These women were mythologised as the 'mad women' who were nurses of Dionysus in Nysa: Lycurgus 'chased the Nurses of the frenzied Dionysus through the holy hills of Nysa, and the sacred implements dropped to the ground from the hands of one and all, as the murderous Lycurgus struck them down with his ox-goad'. They went into the mountains at night and practiced strange rites.

Catalog: Wool and linen on linen, ÄS 7248
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München
Additional text: Wikipedia




Medallion
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Medallion from a Tunic

Medallion from a tunic: winged genius (god) within a wreath of fish and aquatic plants, 4th - 5th centuries AD.

( note that although this is catalogued as wool, it looks more like linen that has been painted with a design - Don )

Catalog: Wool, Ashmunein, ÄS 5988
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Centaur
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Orphrey from a Tunic

Orphrey from a tunic: centaur framed by cross elements, 4th - 5th centuries AD.

Catalog: Wool on linen, ÄS 7246
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Medallion relief
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Relief panels

Depictions of the goddess Aphrodite, 4th - 6th centuries AD.

( the sculpture on the left is very well done, but if the relief panel on the right was meant to be an erotic depiction of Aphrodite, the sculptor has failed miserably - Don )

Catalog: Bone, Alexandria, ÄS 4225, ÄS 5859
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Orphrey
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Orphrey

Orphrey, a cross framed by arabesques., 4th - 6th centuries AD.

Catalog: Wool on linen, Schech Abade, Antinopolis, Egypt, ÄS 5985
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic textiles
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Wall hanging

Fragment of a wall hanging, with lions and floral elements, 4th - 6th centuries AD.

Catalog: Wool on Linen
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic textiles
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Wall hanging

Fragment of a wall hanging, with a female figure, 4th - 6th centuries AD.

Catalog: Wool, ÄS 6045
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic painting Coptic painting Coptic painting



Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Furniture inlays

Three furniture inlays with genii (deities) of the seasons, 4th - 6th centuries AD.

Catalog: Bone, ÄS 5861, ÄS 5862, ÄS 5863
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic textiles


Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Tunic fragment

Fragment of a tunic, vases among grapevines, 4th - 6th centuries AD.

Catalog: Wool on linen, ÄS 61c
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic textiles


Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Orphrey from a tunic.

Orphrey from a tunic: Triumphator (one granted a triumph in ancient Rome) holding a victory wreath and driving a quadriga (chariot drawn by four horses abreast), with a putto (representation of a naked child), 5th century AD.

An orphrey is a highly detailed embroidery, in which typically simple materials are made into complex patterns.

Catalog: Wool on linen, ÄS 4236
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic mouldings



Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Mouldings

Mouldings with grapevines, 4th - 6th centuries AD.

Catalog: Bone, ÄS 5936, ÄS 5937, ÄS 5938
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München



Coptic mouldings Coptic mouldings



Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Mouldings

Mouldings with grapevines, 4th - 6th centuries AD.

Catalog: Bone, ÄS 5941, ÄS 5942
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




relief panel
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Relief panel

Shepherd with a basket of fruit, 5th century AD.

Catalog: Bone, ÄS 4219
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic tunic
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Tunic fragment

Fragment from the breast of a tunic with animals, and dancers beneath, 5th - 6th centuries AD.

Catalog: Wool and linen
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic textiles Coptic textiles


Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Fragments of decorative strips

Two fragments from decorative strips (Clavi) with running lions. 5th - 6th centuries AD.

Catalog: Wool on linen, ÄS 5518, ÄS 7255
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic textiles
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Fragment of a coverlet or wall hanging

Fragment of a coverlet or wall hanging with a rider and a medallion, 7th - 8th centuries AD.

Catalog: Wool and linen, ÄS 4228b
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic textiles
Coptic period: 3rd - 8th centuries AD

Fragment of a coverlet or wall hanging

Fragment of a coverlet or wall hanging depicting riders, 7th - 8th centuries AD.

Catalog: Wool and linen, ÄS 4228c-d
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Coptic textiles
Islamic period: 640 AD - 1 517 AD

Silk cloth

Fragment of fine silk cloth with a striped pattern, 13th - 14th centuries AD.

Catalog: Silk, ÄS 61e
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München




Islamic textiles
Islamic period: 640 AD - 1 517 AD

Linen cloth

Fragment of cloth with a band of embroidery, 10th - 12th centuries AD.

Catalog: Linen, ÄS 61f
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2015
Source and text: Ägyptischen Museum München









References

  1. Deacon D., McFarland C., 2014: War Imagery in Women's Textiles: An International Study of Weaving, Knitting, Sewing, Quilting, Rug Making and Other Fabric Arts, McFarland, 18 Jun. 2014 - Art - 260 pages
  2. Ellis M., 2001: Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt, Ashmolean Museum, 2001 - Design - 95 pages



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