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Fragment of a Hanging or Cover with Head and Duck in Jeweled Lattice

Early Byzantine
400 - 433
33 x 22 cm (13 x 8 11/16 in.)

Not on view


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Many ancient textiles subdivided their field into compartments, either by the device of linked or tangent roundels, or, as we see here, a grid of decorative straps creating diamond-shaped frames. The straps are studded with jewels throughout, and decorated with rosettes at the crossings. The spaces are filled with isolated wreathed heads and ducks, both of which are common among ancient Coptic textiles. Although little remains of it, this fragment illustrates the exceptional pictorial quality of Coptic tapestries from the fifth century. The weaver has used slight variations in both color and texture to render subtle variations in the woman’s face, and in the plumage of the duck’s breast.

- J. Hanson

A. C. Weibel, Two Thousand Years of Textiles: The Figured Textiles of Europe and the Near East (New York, 1952), no. 5.

2000 Years of Tapestry Weaving, exhibition catalogue, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, and The Baltimore Museum of Art, December 7, 1951-March 25, 1952 (Hartford, Conn., 1952), no. 7.

Art of the Weaver, exhibition catalogue, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October 8, 1954-January 2, 1955 (Los Angeles, 1955), no. 14.

The Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Harvard University (Washington, D.C., 1955), 154, no. 297.

Handbook of the Byzantine Collection (Washington, D.C., 1967), 107, no. 360, pl. 360.

D. Thompson, Catalogue of the Textiles in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection (unpublished manuscript) (Washington, D.C., 1976) vol. 2, 303-313, no. 43.

Elizabeth Dospel Williams, "Gems in Cloth and Stone: Medium, Materiality and the Late Antique Jeweled Aesthetic," The Textile Museum Journal 45 (2018): 27, fig. 3

Exhibition History
Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum, "Two Thousand Years of Tapestry Weaving," Dec. 7, 1951 - Jan. 27, 1952, also Baltimore, Baltimore Museum of Art, Feb. 27, - March 25, 1952.

Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum, "Art of the Weaver," Oct. 8, 1954 - Jan. 2, 1955.

Acquisition History
Purchased from Dikran G. Kelekian [1868–1951] (dealer), New York, 1946 (receipt dated January 3, 1947);

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