Child's baptismal shirt fragment - ROM2014_13910_35


Child's baptismal shirt fragment

Maker: Coptic
Medium:Cotton tabby embroidered in silk and silver lamella
Geography: Egypt
Date: 19th Century
61 x 35.8 cm
Object number: 978.76.306
Credit Line: Abemayor Collection given in memory of Dr. Veronika Gervers, Associate Curator, Textile Department (1968-1979) by Albert and Federico Friedberg. Certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act. Attestée par la Commission canadienne d'examen des exportations de biens culturels en vertu de la Loi sur l'exportation et l'importation de biens culturels.
Not on view

This shirt is richly embroidered with both Christian motifs and Arabic inscriptions. Mary with the Christ Child is flanked by St. Macarius and an angel. A large Coptic cross is surrounded by four angels holding palm branches. Three military saints on horseback are identified as Saints Menas, Mercurius, and George. Until recently thought to date from the 12th - 15th century, similar pieces in the Louvre and Katoen Natie collection in Antwerp were tested and found to be embroidered in mercerized cotton (not silk) coloured with modern synthetic dyes. Although our shirt is definitely embroidered in silk, the cotton fabric looks machine-woven rather than handloomed. In addition, the silver embroidery is very similar to women’s shawls produced in Assiut, Egypt in the 19th and early 20th century. This shirt then seems to be a reflection of the revival of Coptic church iconography and traditions in the 18th and 19th century.

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