Coptic Textile Fragment with Image of a Goddess, Linen, wool; plain weave, weft-loop pile

Coptic Textile Fragment with Image of a Goddess

Object Name:
Fragment
Date:
late 3rd–4th century
Geography:
Attributed to Egypt
Medium:
Linen, wool; plain weave, weft-loop pile
Dimensions:
Textile: H. 22 1/16 in. (56 cm)
W. 24 13/16 in. (63 cm)
Mount: H. 26 1/4 in. (66.7 cm)
W. 29 1/4 in. (74.3 cm)
D. 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm)
Classification:
Textiles
Credit Line:
Gift of Helen Miller Gould, 1910
Accession Number:
10.130.1076
Not on view
The use of gold in the depiction of the female head on this fragment may be an allusion to the moon, or to moonlight. The crescent-shaped ornament in the woman’s hair identifies the image as a personification of Luna, the moon, or Diana, goddess of hunting and the chase. In classical mythology, Diana also presides over childbirth and protects the young. Such images were widely used on textiles, wall paintings, and mosaics throughout the Late Antique world. While large textile fragments like this one were discovered as burial wrappings, they probably originally belonged in a domestic setting and their exact use remains uncertain.
Woven in a loop pile, the golden ground of the medallion successfully evokes the connection between the woman and the moon. The crescent-shaped ornament in her hair identifies her as Luna, the moon, or Diana, goddess of the hunt. Such images were widely used on textiles and mosaics throughout the Late Antique world.

[Stauffer 1995]
Chauncey Murch, Luxor, Egypt (until d. 1907); Mrs. Chauncey Murch(1907–10); Helen Miller Gould, New York (1910; gifted to MMA)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Textiles of Late Antiquity," December 14, 1995–April 7, 1996, no. 8.

Stauffer, Annmarie. Textiles of Late Antiquity. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 8, listed p. 44, ill. p. 32 (color).