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Object Timeline

1902

  • We acquired this object.

2013

2014

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2019

  • You found it!

Square (Egypt), 3rd–4th century

This is a Square. It is dated 3rd–4th century and we acquired it in 1902. Its medium is warp: s-spun linen; wefts: s-spun linen, s-spun wool and its technique is plain weave with discontinuous wefts (slit tapestry) with supplementary weft wrapping. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Knots were an apotropaic motif in late Roman Egypt, meaning that they were thought to protect against evil. The Greek word katadeo means both to physically bind and to spellbind. The presence of knot motifs on this burial pillow represents a hope for protection in death. Similar designs ornamented painted burial shrouds. While in late Roman and early Byzantine Egypt, knot motifs decorated objects of various media, including mosaics, statuary and metal dress accessories, they are especially prevalent on textiles, perhaps because of their fundamentally interlaced nature.

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

This object was donated by John Pierpont Morgan. It is credited Gift of John Pierpont Morgan.

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Its dimensions are

H x W: 45 x 43.8 cm (17 11/16 x 17 1/4 in. )

Cite this object as

Square (Egypt), 3rd–4th century; warp: s-spun linen; wefts: s-spun linen, s-spun wool; H x W: 45 x 43.8 cm (17 11/16 x 17 1/4 in. ); Gift of John Pierpont Morgan; 1902-1-116

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Hewitt Sisters Collect.

This object has no known Copyright restrictions.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18130223/ |title=Square (Egypt), 3rd–4th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=23 April 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>