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Tunic Clavi

Early Byzantine
7th century - 8th century
a) 62.6 x 5.7 cm b) 62.2 x 5.7 cm
wool and linen

Not on view


This pair of tapestry bands, known as clavi, would have been used to decorate the front of a late seventh- or early eighth-century Egyptian tunic. This type of adornment derives from the Roman tradition, in which officials would indicate their rank by displaying textile ornaments on their togas.

Isolated in red fields are two standing military saints, bearing swords in one hand and raising the other hand in a gesture of blessing. The presence of saints suggests that the function of this garment may have been liturgical. Apart from the saints there are hares, lions with reversed heads, and vases sprouting tendrils.
J. Hanson

F. Morris, "Catalogue of Textile Fabrics" (unpublished manuscript, Washington, D.C., 1940), vol. 1, 185.

D. Thompson, "Catalogue of the Textiles in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection" (unpublished manuscript, Washington, D.C., 1976), vol. 3, 594-601, no. 76.

Acquisition History
Collection of Phokion J. Tano, Cairo (through Frances Morris), 1932.

Purchased from Phokion J. Tano, Cairo (dealer) through Frances Morris by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, 1932.

Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, D.C., 1932-1940.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C.