This grand hanging is part of a set of at least four that also included depictions of colorful columns topped by heads in medallions. The pieces were excavated from a grave where they had been used as shrouds, but several features indicate that they were originally employed as curtains. Their large scale precludes the function of clothing and the thinness of their material suggests they were meant to be seen from both sides. Depictions of architecture on contemporary mosaics often show curtains hanging between columns, suggesting that pieces such as this may have been hung one after another in an arcade.
Arthur S. Vernay, Inc., New York (until 1922; gifted to MMA)
Gayet, Al. "d'Apres le Fouilles de M. Al. Gayet." In Le Costume en Egypte: du IIIe au XIIIe Siecle:, edited by Ernest Leroux. no. 472, pp. 228-229, ill. fig. 472, V&A's fragment of the same textile is described in: Kendrick, A.F. Catalogue of Textiles from Burying-Grounds in Egypt: Vol. II. Period of Transition and of Christian Emblems. p. 24, ill. fig. 341. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1921.
Evans, Helen C., and Brandie Ratliff, ed. Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. no. 50, pp. 80-81, ill. p. 81 (color).
Stauffer, Annmarie. Textiles of Late Antiquity. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 1, pp. 20, 43, ill. p. 20 (color).
McKenzie, Judith. The Architecture of Alexandria and Egypt, c. 300 BC to AD 700. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. pp. 308, 311, ill. fig. 515.