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Object Timeline

-0001

1902

  • We acquired this object.

2014

2019

  • You found it!

Square (Egypt)

This is a Square. We acquired it in 1902. Its medium is wool and its technique is plain weave with discontinuous wefts (slit tapestry). It is a part of the Textiles department.

Woven portrait busts were a popular way to decorate clothing and soft furnishings in late Roman (third-fourth century C.E.) and Byzantine (fourth-seventh century C.E.) Egypt. Records show that woven busts sometimes portrayed real people. For example, the Emperor Gratian (d. 383 C.E.) is known to have sent the Consul Ausonius a tunic featuring a woven portrait of Constantius. While this bust of a woman may represent a real person, the fragment contains no identifying attributes. The carefully-shaded jewels on the surrounding frame resemble the cabochon rubies and roughly faceted emeralds used in fine jewelry, suggesting that she was a woman of status. A depiction of the Empress Theodora in the Basilica San Vitale uses similar shading to depict the Empress’s jewels.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled Mystery Woman.

This object was donated by John Pierpont Morgan.

Our curators have highlighted 9 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

Cite this object as

Square (Egypt); wool; 1902-1-72

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Maira Kalman Selects.

This object has no known Copyright restrictions.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18132561/ |title=Square (Egypt) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=12 December 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>