Some Coptic shawls

shawl3rd4thcentshawldetail3rd4thcent This shawl is from between the 3rd and 4th century C.E. The Egyptian shawl is plain weave linen, with a tapestry weave decoration sewn on. The size of the shawl is 70 cm by 45 cm. It is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

browncopticshawl8th9thcent This shawl has been tapestry woven with wool and linen between the 8th and 9th century. It is 21.9 cm by 33 cm. It is also has Coptic script on it, as opposed to tiraz bands with Arabic. It is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

darkcopticshawl8th9thcent Also made between the 8th and 9th century, this particular shawl is wool, tapestry woven with linen decorations. There is also Coptic script. It is 33 cm high by 79.4 cm wide. It is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

copticshawl9th10thcent This shawl is much like the others- wool and linen tapestry woven with Coptic script. However by this stage there were also Arabic tiraz becoming the fashion from the Abbasid and Fatimid Empires. The shawl is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A 10th century Egyptian textile

6thcentredband This textile is linen with a red woolen tapestry woven band (dyed with madder) with linen detail. The band has designs of hearts with a goat or a Sagittary in the middle. The dimensions are 30.5 cm by 31.5 cm. The item is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. redbanddetail6thcent This is the detail of the tapestry band. The Museum’s page says the textile is a sleeve remnant. However, the reverse of the textile is unusual- reverseredband6thcent This fringing is more expected in a shawl. The reverse details- redbandreverse6thcent Please let me know what you think the textile could be.

5th century Coptic tunic

This tunic is thought to have been made in the 5th century, in Egypt. The tunic is made of linen (in plain weave), with wool woven in tapestry woven designs. Neckline detail The tunic is 183 cm high by 135 cm wide. Shoulder detail. Possibly dancers? The tunic is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For more details on Coptic tunics, see previous post Coptic embroidery and garb.

7th century leggings

These pants were found in the city of Antinoe, in a Coptic tomb. Created in the 7th century, they are dyed wool tapestry, made in a single piece. This style of weaving is a Coptic skill. These highly decorated leggings are unusual from Coptic garb, as they are decorated with archers and a Persian king. This half is currently in the Louvre. This half is in the Musée des Tissus.

Early period Coptic items

This is a Coptic statue, thought to have been made between 600-700 C.E. It is 115cm tall and 49 cm wide. It is currently in the Carmentis On-line Museum. This textile was made earlier than the statue, possibly around 500 C.E. It is 27.5 cm by 17.2cm but there is very little information on the website. It is also in the Carmentis On-line Museum. This textile is 5th century but there is also very little information on the Carmentis On-line Museum. This textile is obviously tapestry woven, possibly using these- (also in the Carmentis On-line Museum) and this- which is another 5th century item- a wooden spindle. Also in the Carmentis On-line Museum.

Coptic manuscripts

This Coptic bible was thought to have been made between 700-900 C.E. in Wadi El Natrun in Egypt. The bible possibly belonged to the Kasr Deir es Surian, or Castle of the Monastery of the Syrians which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The book is 14.9 by 10 cm and made of ink on parchment. The geometric design of the cross is a well known Coptic design and there is both Arabic and Coptic writing (for those who no longer read Coptic). The book is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This manuscript is a “cookbook” of magical spells, written between the 6th and the 7th centuries C.E. It is 19 by 64.5 cm, made of black ink on leather. The manuscript is in the British Museum, just like this one- and these-
These particular magician’s notes were written about by W. E. Crum in two different articles (available from JStor)-
Magical Texts in Coptic: I & Magical Texts in Coptic: II.
Another JStor articles about the hoard- A Coptic Wizard’s Hoard by W. H. Worrell and The Coptic Wizard’s Hoard by Paul Mirecki.
More manuscripts can be seen on Coptic Icon E-Gallery (although there is no information about the manuscripts) and on Biblical-data.com. There is also a collection at the Chester Beatty Library but you need to look through the images to see the online gallery.
Recommended reading
The Amherst papyri : being an account of the Egyptian papyri in the collection of the Right Hon. Lord Amherst of Hackney, F.S.A. at Didlington Hall by William Amherst, W.E. Crum and Percy Newberry. Via the Internet Archive.
Catalogue of the Coptic manuscripts in the British Museum by W.E. Crum. Via the Internet Archive.
Short texts from Coptic ostraca and papyri by W.E. Crum. Via the Internet Archive.
The Morgan Collection of Coptic Manuscripts. Unknown author. JStor article.
The J. P. Morgan Collection of Coptic Manuscripts by Henri Hyvernat. JStor article.

Coptic embroidery

Shown on SCAtoday.net was an article about a blog. This blog covered blackwork of many shapes and countries.

This blog is called Practical Blackwork. There is also a free stuff page where many pdfs can be downloaded, including a Coptic design.

This design was taken from the Antique Pattern Library, specifically a book (in two volumes) from Therese de Dillmont called “Motifs de Broderie copte”. They are located in the embroidery section.

They have great pictures which could easily be charted but I don’t speak French and I can’t muddle through enough to find a date. If anyone can read French, then I wish they could help with the translation!

Coptic children’s garb


The ground fabric is likely to be linen, with embroidered foliate design in red, green and yellow surrounded by dark blue (possibly indigo?) and white embroidered bands. The neckline and sleeves are embroidered with red and white bands. The only dimensions mentioned is a height of 38 cm. Taken from Christie’s, where it was sold for £3,525 or $5,104. There is not much more information on the item, such as the thread used in the embroidery, other than it is from the 6th century.
This tunic is from the 5th or 6th century. While the ground fabric is not mentioned, it is probably linen, but this tunic had purple embroidered band on the front with cream stripes down the sides of the tunic and sleeves. The hood is embroidered with lions in roundels, the shoulders have stylised plant embroidery and the back of the tunic is embroidered with birds along the hem (unable to be seen). The dimensions are 86 x 69 cm. Taken from Christie’s where it sold for £28,200 (or $44,697). No other information is mentioned.
These salwar are of fine linen, with belt loops and open at the lower leg, to tie onto the ankle. The salwar are 84 cm high. The sandals are of leather, with the soles perforated with stitching holes. Only some of the straps are still attached and 22 cm long. Thought to have been made between the 5th-7th century. Taken from Christie’s, where it was sold for £12,500 ($25,588).
This is a polychrome wool cowl, 5th-6th century. It is 23cm high, with horizontal and vertical bands of stripes, zigzags, dots and diamond motif pattern. Taken from Christie’s.
This wool cowl is also 5th-6th century, 29.3 cm high and with a red herringbone pattern with green and red chequered borders and cords. Taken from Christie’s.
This fringed shawl is 7th-9th century, made from linen embroidered with wool. The wool is in repeating patterns of small buds and flowers in red, green and yellow with stylised leaves or roundels in the lozenge-shaped spaces. It is 112 x 94 cm. Taken from Christie’s where it sold for £4,935 ($8,390).

Early period Egyptian statue


This is a 4th-5th century Egyptian statue of a Christian woman. The height is 38.3 cm, and the base is 12 x 9.8 cm. It is terracotta plaster, with details painted on. The dress is also painted in such a way as to indicate embroidery, very similar to Coptic embroidery. For more information on Coptic embroidery, please look at the Coptic embroidery and garb post.

The cross is clearly visible but I have no idea what is tucked under her arm. Any ideas?

The statue is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.