Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Tunic

Date:
5th–7th century
Geography:
Said to be from Egypt, Akhmim (former Panopolis)
Medium:
Linen, wool
Dimensions:
Textile: H. 53 1/8 in. (135 cm) Mount: H. 67 1/8 in. (170.5 cm) W. 56 in. (142.2 cm) D. 4 5/8 in. (11.7 cm)
Classification:
Textiles
Credit Line:
Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1926
Accession Number:
26.9.7
Not on view
Tunics, worn by all levels of society, were the standard form of dress in Egypt and throughout the Mediterranean world in the Byzantine period. The neck opening of this tunic fragment is exquisitely decorated with finely detailed motifs embroidered into the whole. Extending front to back are clavi (bands) of double-headed axe heads alternating with floral motifs – pinecones extend onto the shoulders. The tunic is said to have come from Panopolis, a center of textile production in Egypt named for the classical god Pan, a member of the wine god Dionysos’ s retinue. The motifs may have been auspicious or related to the cult of Dionysos. The pinecones, representing prosperity and fertility, topped the god’s thyrsus, or staff. The double-headed axe was a symbol of Herakles, another associate of the god.
[ Nicolas Tano, Cairo, sold to Harkness]; Edward S. Harkness, New York (until 1926; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Design Motifs in Byzantine Art," August 5, 2013–August 3, 2014.

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