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Resist-Dyed Hanging with Biblical Scenes
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Item Details
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Egypt, Byzantine period, 1st half of 6th century
Resist-Dyed Hanging with Biblical Scenes
Work Type
resist-dyed linen; plain weave
Overall: 104.1 x 97.8 cm (41 x 38 1/2 in.)
This hanging belongs to an elite group featuring biblical scenes that early Christians would have recognized. The upper register on the left shows a cross-legged stool in a fragmentary Adoration of the Virgin; as a Coptic inscription indicates, the Magi approach from the right. The middle register on the left may depict the Baptism of Christ while the other three figures separated by columns appear to illustrate the Miracle of Loaves and Fishes. Old Testament scenes in the lower register include Jonah and the Whale. The scenes were created using a resist-dye technique. A substance that dyes cannot penetrate was applied to the linen cloth. After the cloth was immersed in an indigo dyebath, the resist was removed, revealing the design on the undyed linen against the blue-dyed ground.
Greek inscriptions identify the various scenes from the Old and New Testaments. Above the first of the Magi in the upper register can be seen the two letters "XP" from the Greek work for gold. At the left of the middle register are two figures, the first almost destroyed and the second identified by the inscription, "EIWANNHC," as John. In the lower register is a portrayal of Jonah thrown up on the shore with the big fish beside him and accompanied by the inscription, "EIWNAC." Moses, almost completely destroyed, is only identifiable by his inscription, "MWCHC."
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Collection: T - Coptic
Department: Textiles
Provenance: (Mrs. Paul Mallon, New York; said to have been brought to Paris from Egypt in the 1870s or 1880s).
John L. Severance Fund
Accession Number
Image and original data from The Cleveland Museum of Art
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