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pre-conversation; view showing decorative band at upper right
pre-conversation; detail of central medallion in decorative band at top of hanging
pre-conversation; detail of medallion at left in decorative band at top of hanging
pre-conversation; view showing upper left square panel
pre-conversation; view showing upper right square panel
pre-conversation; view showing section of decorative
band at bottom of hanging
pre-conversation; detail of central medallion
pre-conversation; detail of winged figure at bottom of center medallion
pre-conversation; view showing decorative band at bottom of hanging (right)
pre-conversation; detail of central medallion in decorative band at bottom of hanging
post-conversation; view showing decorative band at top of hanging
post-conversation; detail of medallion at right in decorative band at top of hanging
post-conversation; view showing upper left square panel
post-conversation; view showing upper right square panel
post-conversation; view showing lower left square panel
post-conversation; view showing lower right square panel
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Title:Hanging with Images of Abundance
Date:640–60 (radiocarbon dating, 95% probability)
Geography:Attributed to Egypt
Dimensions:L. 104 3/4 in. (266 cm) W. 62 5/8 in. (159 cm) Wt. 183 lb. (83kg)
Credit Line:Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1929
Hanging with Images of Abundance
This wall hanging features a central medallion and four outer squares whose borders are filled with various creatures. In the middle of the medallion and squares ride five pairs of Amazons. Wide bands across the top and bottom of the textile present, in ovals, busts that possibly represent Ge (Earth), riders with wreaths on their hands, and small figures carrying food, all on a jumble of birds, fish, and geometric patterns. The iconography is a pastiche of motifs typically found throughout the Byzantine and Islamic worlds. The mounted Amazons do not trample the expected snarling beast; instead, the legs of their horses trot over bowls piled with fruits. In addition, the Amazons’ arms pull back bows that are not there.
The many references to food, hunting, and Ge suggest abundance. The textile’s grand dimensions and use of many colors–a rich red background with details in pink, blue, green, yellow, black, and white–testify to the undoubted expense of this item. The iconography of Amazons and Nilotic creatures, such as Nereids and ducks, can be found in many of the secular arts around the eastern Mediterranean. Taken together, the scale, the references to the good life, and the mythological motifs point to a wealthy patron invoking prosperity by hanging this work in the home.
The many textiles in this volume with Amazons, hunters, mythological figures, and animals attest to the popularity of these themes (cat. no. 103). What sets this textile apart from others are the blending of these designs, the simplicity of execution, and the disregard for naturalism.
Jennifer L. Ball in [Evans and Ratliff 2012]
2. Henry Maguire. "Garments Pleasing to God: The Significance of Domestic Textile Designs in the Early Byzantine Period." Dumbarton Oaks Papers 44 (1990), p. 217.
Edward S. Harkness, New York (until 1929; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition," March 14–July 8, 2012, no. 3.
Evans, Helen C., and Brandie Ratliff, ed. Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. no. 3, pp. 13–14, ill. (color).
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