Fragment of a child's tunic - ROM2011_11818_1


Fragment of a child's tunic

Maker: Coptic
Medium:Linen tabby with tapestry inserts in multicoloured wool and undyed linen
Geography: Perhaps made in Akhmīm, Egypt
Date: 6th-7th century
Period: Early Byzantine
66 x 65 cm
Object number: 910.128.27
Not on view

Fragment of a child’s tunic. Tapestry shoulder bands (clavi) decorated with birds alternating with flower heads, and larger flower heads at the knees. From their short hooked beaks, upright stance and brightly coloured plumage, the birds can be identified as parrots. There are rows of heavy picks at the clavi. The bars at the bottom are a typical feature marking the end of a tapestry band. A selvage, the finished lateral edge of the woven textile, forms the hem of the garment.

The imagery of birds with collars shows Sasanian influence, suggesting a 6th – 7th c. date. A roughly contemporary floor mosaic from Antioch (5th century floor mosaic with parrots in the Baltimore Museum of Art) shows a similar parrot design; the fact that the parrots face in opposite directions from one row to the next in both the tunic and the mosaic shows the influence of contemporary drawloom-woven silk textiles with inverted pattern repeats.

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