Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Hanging with Polychrome Columns

Object Name:
5th–6th century
Found Egypt, near Damietta
Linen, wool
H. 82 in. (208.3 cm) W. 49 1/2 in. .(125.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Arthur S. Vernay Inc., 1922
Accession Number:
Not on view
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 arches, suggesting that the pieces in this set may have been hung one after another in an arcade.
Arthur S. Vernay, Inc., New York (until 1922; gifted to MMA)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Textiles of Late Antiquity," December 14, 1995–April 7, 1996, no. 1.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Late Antique Taste and Clasical Themes," November 1, 2008–November 1, 2009.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Classical Imagery in the Early Byzantine Period," November 18, 2008–January 18, 2009.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition," March 14, 2012–July 8, 2012, no. 50.

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.

Kendrick, A. F. "Early Textiles from Damietta." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs vol. 32 (1918). no. 178, pp. 10-15, 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.

Stauffer, Annmarie. Textiles of Late Antiquity. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 1, listed p.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.

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).

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