Fragment from a Frieze with Acanthus-Leaf Wheels

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 302

The monastic community of Bawit, founded in the 300s by Apa (Father) Apollo at a small village, grew to consist of numerous complexes with residences, chapels, and service structures and two large churches profusely decorated with sculptures and paintings, often reused from other sites, all affiliated with the Coptic church. The more important buildings were decorated with courses of sculpted stone freely combining floral and geometric motifs inspired by classical art – rosettes, acanthus leaves, meander patterns – with more recent Christian themes. These sculptural elements, demonstrating the Byzantine love of complex patterning with lush textures, were originally painted in rich, vibrant colors like those surviving in textiles.

Fragment from a Frieze with Acanthus-Leaf Wheels, Limestone; carved in relief

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