Panel with the Triumph of Dionysos

Object Name: Panel

Date: 4th–6th century

Geography: Attributed to Egypt, Akhmim (former Panopolis)

Culture: Coptic

Medium: Wool, linen; tapestry weave

Dimensions: 8.62 in. high 13.37 in. wide (22 cm high 34 cm wide)

Classification: Textiles

Credit Line: Gift of George F. Baker, 1890

Accession Number: 90.5.873

Description

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.

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