Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Child's Dress

Object Name:
660–880 (radiocarbon date, 95% probability)
From Egypt, probably Akhmim (former Panopolis)
Plain weave in red wool (dyed with madder); applied borders with pattern weft in blue and red wool and undyed linen
Overall including sleeves: H. 20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm)
W. 25 9/16 in. (64.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of George F. Baker, 1890
Accession Number:
Not on view
In contrast with woven-to-shape tunics with straight sides, this dress–in a style worn by children from infancy to preadolescence–is tailored. Several pieces were cut from a red woolen cloth; the front and back and the upper part of the sleeves are one piece, while the lower part of the sleeves and the triangular side gores were cut out separately and sewn to the body of the garment. The sides and sleeves were then sewn closed. A small slit at the hem on either side was left open.The triangular gores, which extend up to the armpits, give th– dress its flared line.

The semicircular neck opening is decorated with a finely crafted applied border with a pattern of alternating rosettes and quincunx motifs and a small red border with a zigzag design.The same bands occur along the cuffs. A slit on the proper left shoulder facilitated putting on the dress; the slit could be closed with a little linen button attached to the trimming on the front.

A remarkable number of flared woolen children's dresses from Egypt were dyed red, blue, or blue-green;[2] related pieces have been found in particular in the Fayum. Radiocarbon analyses of selected samples indicate a date between the late seventh and the tenth century.[3]

Cäcilia Fluck in [Evans and Ratliff 2012]


2. K. H. Aben. "Een koptisch kinderjurkje." Mededelingenblad der Vereniging van Vrienden van het Allard Pierson Museum, no. 17 (1979), pp. 12–13; Peter Noever, ed. Verletzliche Beute: Spätantike und frühislamische Textilien aus Ägypten. Fragile Remnands: Egyptian Textiles of Late Antiquity and Early Islam. Exh. Cat., Ostfildern-Ruit, 2005, cat. nos. 65, 66; Frances Pritchard. Closing Couture: Dress in Egypt in the First Millenium AD; Clothing from Egypt in the Collection of the Whitworth Art Gallery, the University of Manchester. Exh. cat., Manchester, 2006, pp. 42–43, 103–4, 108, 112–14; Cäcilia Fluck and Katrin Mälck. " Radiocarbon Analysed Textiles in the Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantische Kunst, Berlin." In Methods of Dating Ancient Textiles of the First Millenium AD from Egypt and Neighboring Countries, edited by Antoine de Moor and Cäcilia Fluck, pp. 154–55, Tielt, 2007; Museum für Byzantische Kunst, Berlin, Schweinfurth, no. 415 (unpublished).

3. Pritchard 2006, (note 2), table on p. 115; Fluck and Mälck 2007 (note 2), pp. 154–55, and table on p. 166.
Emil Brugsch-Bey, Cairo (until 1890; sold to Baker); George F. Baker, New York (1890; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition," March 14, 2012–July 8, 2012, no. 113.

Evans, Helen C., and Brandie Ratliff, ed. Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. no. 113, pp. 170-171, ill. p. 170 (color).

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