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Fragment of a textile from the Kapati type bearing Christian symbols

Fragment of a textile from the Kapati type bearing Christian symbols
© BA Antiquities Museum/C. Gerigk

Registration Number(s)
BAAM Serial Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum Number 0921

Inv.Inventory
 (Coptic Museum) 6632

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Fragment of a textile from the Kapati type bearing Christian symbols

Category:
Textile
Date:
Byzantine Period, 5th to 6th Cent. CE
Provenance:
Unknown
Material(s):
  • Organic material, fiber (from plants/animals), linen
  • Organic material, fiber (from plants/animals), wool
Length:
24 cm;
Width:
22 cm
Hall:
Byzantine Antiquities, showcase 22


Description

Fragment of a linen textile adorned with green floral motifs inside which are some Christian symbols such as the dove which symbolizes the Holy Spirit, and the rabbit which symbolizes the avoidance of the sin, and bunches of grapes which symbolizes the blood of Jesus. The fragment is also adorned with floral motifs. The background is full of decorated heart motifs.
This fragment dates back to the fifth century CE when Christian symbols were broadly used on textile.

Linen

The Ancient Egyptians cultivated flax on a large scale in the Delta for textile manufacture. Strabo (63-23 BCE) stated that the city of Panopolis (Akhmim) was famous for its linen products which included priests costumes. Herodotus (484-430 BCE) mentioned a durable type of linen which was used to make mummy wrappings. Scenes of flax production, harvest, fastening spinning and weaving are depicted on the walls of some tombs in Beni Hassan (in Minya)  and Thebes (Luxor).
Greek historians described Egyptian linen textile and the accuracy of its manufacture, especially the byssos which ranks among the finest types.
Linen retained its importance through the Roman and Christian periods thanks to its durability, fine weaving and heat insulation property. This was attested by Diocletian in his price list where he stated that the Alexandrian textile is considered to be among the finest five types in the Empire.
Linen preserved its natural color during the manufacturing process, and only few whitening substances were added. Woolen motifs were also sometimes on linen textile.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

Bibliography
  • "Textiles". In The Coptic Encyclopedia. Edited by Atiya, Aziz S. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1991.
  • Ferguson, George. Signs and Symbols in Christian Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 1961.
  • Kendrich, A. F. Catalogue of textiles from burying grounds in Egypt. London, 1992.
  • Shurinova, R. Coptic Textiles. Collection of Coptic textiles. Moscow, 1969.
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