This fragment has three ornamental inserts--a roundel containing a complex interlace pattern and two narrow horizontal bands. Surviving fringe and selvage indicate that the fragment formed the end corner of a large piece that would have had other roundels in the field and stripes at the other end. The weft-loop pile provided added warmth to these domestic textiles.
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Title:Fragment of a Cover or Blanket with Interlace Roundel and Stripes
Geography:Attributed to Egypt
Dimensions:Max. H. 34 1/2 in. (87.5 cm) Max. W. 38 1/4 in. (97 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of George F. Baker, 1890
This piece is one of a large group of common domestic textiles used since pharaonic times as blankets and covers made in loop-pile cloth for added warmth. From the Late Roman period onwards, they were decorated with woven-in inserts, first in monochrome and later also in polychrome tapestry, as seen in this example. They are known from a large number of fragments. These textiles were certainly manufactured throughout Egypt, although several that are particularly close to this weaving are, like this example, circumstantially associated with Upper Egypt and Akhmim. Some are so close that they might be considered the products not only of the same area but even of the same workshop (esp. MMA 89.18.151 and V&A nos. 665.1886, 365.1887, and 40.1936).
The fragment bears three ornamental inserts, consisting of a roundel and a pair of narrow horizontal stripes. The roundel (D. 41 cm) has a stylized garland band framing an eight-point star filled with an interlace whose complex pattern is formed by flat bands looped into tight coils arranged into four medallion-like motifs. A fringed edge and its adjoining selvage indicate that the fragment was the end corner of a much larger piece that would have been decorated with two or three additional roundels in the main field and a set of stripes on the other end. This specific interlace design, together with other ornamental motifs, suggest a mid-4th century date for its manufacture.(see also MMA 89.18.151, cat. 181 in this volume).
Anna Gonosova in [Friedman 1989]
1. Such early collections as those of Emil Brugsch (Bey), Franz Bock, Wladimir Bock, Robert Forrer, and Theodor Graf were formed in the 1880s at a time when textiles originating in Akhmim were most available.
Emil Brugsch-Bey, Cairo (until 1890; sold to Baker); George F. Baker, New York (1890; gifted to MMA)
Providence, RI. Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. "Beyond the Pharaohs: Egypt and the Copts in the 2nd to 7th Centuries A.D.," February 10, 1989–April 16, 1989, no. 38.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Textiles of Late Antiquity," December 14, 1995–April 7, 1996, no. 52.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Selections from the George F. Baker Gift, 1890," June 13, 2011–August 5, 2012.
Friedman, Florence D. "Egypt and the Copts in the 2nd to 7th Centuries AD." In Beyond the Pharaohs. Providence, R.I.: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1989. no. 38, p. 128, ill. pl. 38 (b/w).
Stauffer, Annmarie. Textiles of Late Antiquity. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 52, p. 47.
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