Coptic Textile Fragment with Mask and Arabesque Motif

£ 275.00

An Egyptian Coptic textile fragment woven in black wool onto coarse, unbleached linen. The panel of material depicts a motif comprised of a large, rectangular frame, known as a ‘tabula’, featuring a larger circular medallion. This in turn is decorated with an Arabesque motif, holding a smaller, central medallion with a mask. The mask displays delicate features including rounded eyes, nose, mouth, and a headpiece. This fragment was very likely part of a tunic, the most common garment in Coptic textile culture.

Date: Circa 4th-6th Century AD
Period: Coptic Period
Condition: Very fine with clear and visible details. Signs of ageing on the surface.
Product Code: ES-155
Category: Tags: , ,

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.

Earlier textiles such as this were monochromatic and it was only after the 6th century AD that other colours were used. An influence from Byzantium introduced varying hues and shades, including green, vivid blue, orange and purple.

Weight 5.2 g
Dimensions L 11 x W 10.5 cm

North Africa


Linen, Wool

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