Three Coptic tunics and a hat

coptnecklinetextilemeseum This textile is 64 cm long and 114 cm wide. It is made of plain woven linen with wool tapestry weave inserts. It was made by Coptic Egyptians between the 9th and 12th centuries C.E. It is currently in the Textile Museum of Canada. There is a zoom view available on the page.

coptictunic1textilemuseum This textile is 105 cm long and 122 cm wide. It is wool, with tapestry woven inserts of bird decorations and thought to have been made between the 6th and 7th centuries. The bottoms of the tunic is fringed. The tunic is in the Textile Museum of Canada. The tunic has a zoom view available on the page.

coptictunic2textilemueum This tunic is 76.7 cm long and 112.3 cm wide. It is made of plain woven linen, with wool tapestry woven inserts and appliqué. It was thought to have been made between the 7th and 9th centuries. The tunic is currently in the Textile Museum of Canada. There is a zoom view available on the page.

coptichattextilemuseum This hat is 13.3 cm long and 16.6 cm wide with a circumference of 44.5 cm at the bottom of the hat. It is made of plain woven linen between the 5th and 9th centuries. The bottom was thought to have ear flaps. It is currently in the Textile Museum of Canada. There is a zoom view of the hat on the page.

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.

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 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).

Coptic embroidery and garb

The Egyptian Coptic period covers the 5th-9th century. This is from the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Christianity and the invasion of the Fatimids in the 10th century.

The above textile was sold by Christies for $3,840.

The decorations were woven bands of clavi and woven/embroidered segmentae on the fronts and shoulders.

Being Egypt, most of the recovered tunics (preserved in the dry conditions) are linen. However, there are some that are fine wool. The embroidery was originally done in wool and silk, using chain stitch, cross stitch, whipped running stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch and split stitch. Unfortunately due to non-professional archaeologists finding the textiles, they can be cut up, keeping only the embroidery while the rest of the textile is discarded.

The tunic is in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Due to the tunic’s fragility, a replica was made and is available for the public to try on. The creators talk about it here and here. The scientific analysis of the tunic is gone over here.

This is a close up of a child’s tunic in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Thought to be 6th or 7th century.

Bibliography
An Overview of Middle-Eastern Garments in the Middle Ages by Magistra Rosemounde of Mercia (Micaela Burnham).
Coptic tunics in PastTimes by House Barra.
Coptic Patterns in PastTimes by House Barra.
Coptic Embroidery and Needlework by Norman A. Ruben in kunstpedia.
The Textile Museum.
This is a Coptic “blackwork” design by T. Thallus (PDF) at the Antique Pattern Library. Their complete list is available here.
The Power of the Anointed: The Life of David on Two Coptic Textiles in the Walters Art Gallery by Thomas E. A. Dale. Jstor article.
Coptic Textiles 1 on Marla Mallett: Textiles and Tribal Oriental Rugs.
Coptic Textiles 2 on Marla Mallett: Textiles and Tribal Oriental Rugs.
Coptic Textiles 3 on Marla Mallett: Textiles and Tribal Oriental Rugs.