8.62 in. high 13.37 in. wide (22 cm high 34 cm wide)
Gift of George F. Baker, 1890
Not on view
Like most textiles from Egypt, this fourth-century panel may have been part of a ritual or festive garment. It was manufactured in the Early Byzantine period from undyed linen and purple wool in tapestry weave technique. Dionysos, the center figure, rides a chariot drawn by two panthers. As the god of wine and intoxication, he holds in his raised right hand a characteristic bunch of grapes. Immediately adjacent to him caper two maenads (female followers). On his far right is a satyr and on the opposite side is an Indian captive in spotted pantaloon. This scene is meant to celebrate a stage in the god's legendary conquest of India, through which he achieves a triumph in this world and a place in heaven. This popular theme was with Egyptian ruler mythology from the time of Alexander the Great, who was also seen as a god. He conquered India in 325 B.C., a few years after founding the great Egyptian city of Alexandria.
Emil Brugsch-Bey, Cairo (until 1890; sold to Baker); George F. Baker, New York (1890; gifted to MMA)
Weitzmann, Kurt, ed. Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979. no. 121, p. 142, ill.
Allen, Susan Heuck. "The True Vine: Dionysiac Imagery in Coptic Textiles and Later Medieval Art." In Survival of the Gods: Classical Mythology in Medieval Art. Providence, R.I.: Brown University, 1987. p. 3, (as cat. no. 8).
Survival of the Gods: Classical Mythology in Medieval Art. Providence, R.I.: Brown University, 1987. no. 8, pp. 42–43.
Stauffer, Annmarie. Textiles of Late Antiquity. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 10, pp. 30, 31, 44, ill. p. 30-31 (color).