Heavy woolen garments such as the example seen here were generally worn as a top layer over a lighter tunic, and hoods offered added protection against heat, cold, or dust. This green wool garment is one of a number of hooded children's tunics that have been preserved. It is ornamented with plain, undyed bands, while its clavi and double sleeve bands are made of purple-colored and undyed wool. The clavi and bands are decorated with a repeating pattern of abstracted, elongated figures intertwined in a vine scroll; they are framed by festoons and dangling leaves. The hemline of the tunic is edged with green fringe. A separately woven hood, also decorated with undyed bands and two roundels, is finished with green fringe along the top and red fringe along the sides.
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detail of hood
detail showing armband
detail of pattern on clavi
detail of roundel on hood
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Title:Child's Tunic with Hood
Geography:Attributed to Egypt
Medium:Tapestry weave in purple-colored, red-brown, and undyed wool on plain-weave ground of green wool; fringes in green and red-brown along the perimeter of the hood and lower edges
Dimensions:Textile (Including sleeves and hood): L. 35 1/16 in. (89.1 cm) W. 39 3/4 in. (101 cm) Mount: H. 42 in. (106.7 cm) W. 47 1/4 in. (120 cm) D. 2 5/8 in. (6.7 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of George D. Pratt, 1927
This charming tunic is made to fit and to please a child of perhaps seven or eight years old. The ornamental bands depicting very stylized frontal figures in a laurel scroll represent a survival of the popular Dionysian/bucolic themes.
Child's Tunic with Hood
This tunic would have fitted a child of about seven or eight years old, though the construction and decoration are like those of an adult’s tunic (cat. no. 110 in this volume, Brooklyn Museum, New York, [41.523]). Here, however, a hood was sewn onto the back of the neck opening.
Hoods were typical features of Egyptian children’s garments from Roman to Byzantine times. They are commonly made of a separately woven rectangular piece of cloth that was simply folded in the middle of the longitudinal axis and closed at the top. As here, they are often adorned with roundels (orbiculi) and fringes along the top seam and the edges surrounding the face. The decoration of the hood matches that of the tunic, whose cuffs–originally closed but now open–and sides are ornamented with bright stripes, while the lower edge is fringed (cat. no. 110 in this volume). The sleeves could be tied closed at the cuffs with two blue wool cords, of which one, on the proper right sleeve, remains.
The ornamental bands (clavi) that run down to the lower edge and the double sleeve bands show very stylized frontal figures encircled by laurel-leaf scrolls. Because of the simplified rendering it is not possible to identify the individual depictions, except for a few dancers that are characterized by their crossed legs. Because dancers and laurel leaves are closely associated with the cult of Dionysos–one of the most popular themes in Roman and Early Christian Art–the other figures on the tunic’s bands probably relate to the Dionysian theme as well.
Cäcilia Fluck in [Evans and Ratliff 2012]
2. For the dating see the discussion under cat. no. 110 in this volume.
3. For further examples see Brigitte Pitarakis. "The Material Culture of Childhood in Byzantium." In Becoming Byzantine: Children and Childhood in Byzantium, edited by Arietta Papaconstantinou and Alice-Mary Talbot, Washington, D.C., 2009, pp. 181–84;Cäcilia Fluck. "Kinderkleidung im römischen und spätantike Ägypten: Ein Project der DressID Studien Gruppe C: Gender and Age". Mitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wein. 140 (2010), pp. 182–84.
4. For a flask with a decoration of dancers see cat. no. 139 in this volume (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin 12/79).
Dauterman Maguire et al. 1989. Eunice Dauterman Maguire, Henry P. Maguire, and Maggie J. Duncan-Flowers. Art and Holy Powers in the Early Christian House. Exh. cat. Urbana, Ill., 1989.
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