Fragment of Wall Hanging with confronted cocks and running dogs

Date: 4th–6th century

Geography: Made in Byzantine Egypt

Culture: Coptic

Medium: Wool and linen

Dimensions: Overall: 12 13/16 x 24 5/16 in. (32.5 x 61.8 cm)
Framed: 18 7/8 x 29 5/16 x 1 3/8 in. (48 x 74.5 x 3.5 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Woven

Credit Line: Purchase, Christopher C. Grisanti and Suzanne P. Fawbush; The Tianaderrah Foundation; Larry and Ann Burns, in honor of Austin B. Chinn; Mary and Michael Jaharis; and André Dimitriadis Gifts; and funds from various donors, 2011

Accession Number: 2011.363


Against a blue ground, a pair of boldly colored cocks with red crests, heart-shaped wattles and wings, and colorful feathers face one another over a pyramid of grape clusters. Their feet interrupt a series of grape leaves and vine tendrils. Behind the birds two hunting dogs charge toward one another. The attention given to the roosters' claws and spurs and the inclusion of hunting dogs suggest that the birds are sporting animals, a subject entirely appropriate for a domestic textile. In the early Byzantine period, images of prosperity were favored themes for furnishings in the homes of the elite and the aspiring.

The striking pattern of confronted cocks was repeated on the complete hanging. A modern repair to the tail of the yellow rooster repurposed feathers from the now lost textile to give the appearance of a complete bird. Bands of pink and yellow frame the vignette, creating a friezelike border that may have finished the top or bottom of the large hanging. Alternatively, the vignette may have formed part of the primary design, as is the case with a number of other hangings from the period that feature elaborate compositions of repeating stacked bands combining figural images, simple ribbons of color, garlands laden with fruit and birds, and vine scrolls.