Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Fragment from a Coptic Hanging

Object Name:
5th century
Attributed to Egypt
Linen, wool; plain weave, tapestry-weave
Textile: L. 40 15/16 in. (104 cm)
W. 24 13/16 in. (63 cm)
Mount: L. 46 1/4 in. (117.5 cm)
W. 31 1/8 in. (79.1 cm)
D. 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm)
Wt. 30 lbs. (13.6 kg)
Credit Line:
Gift of George F. Baker, 1890
Accession Number:
Not on view
This large rectangular textile incorporates both Roman and Christian imagery. Arcades containing hunters on horseback recall Roman sources, while the roundels with angels are clearly Christian. Similar imagery, such as the baskets of fruit, is found on the wall paintings of Umayyad desert palaces in Syria.
Early textiles such as this, woven by Coptic Christians, have survived the centuries due to the dry climate and the Christian perpetuation of the Egyptian practice of burying the dead in garments sometimes shrouded in large cloth wrappings. Such textiles were woven in well‑organized workshops that continued to function in the early Islamic period.
Suggesting wealth, well-being, and power, mounted riders with their hunting dogs gallop across the top of the hanging beneath busts of winged victories. The dramatic staring eyes of the men date this fragment of a curtain panel to the fifth century A.D. In the lower section baskets of fruits and flowers and another winged victory emphasize the sense of prosperity conveyed by the design.

[Stauffer 1995]
Emil Brugsch-Bey(until 1890; sold to Baker); George F. Baker, New York (1890; gifted to MMA)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Textiles of Late Antiquity," December 14, 1995–April 7, 1996, no. 47.

Stauffer, Annmarie. Textiles of Late Antiquity. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 47, pp. 22, 47, ill. p. 22 (color).

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