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Object Timeline

-0001

1902

  • We acquired this object.

2014

2021

  • You found it!

Square (Egypt), 5th–7th century

This is a Square. It is dated 5th–7th century and 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 Week series in a post titled Mystery Woman.

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: 15.3 x 14.6 cm (6 x 5 3/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Square (Egypt), 5th–7th century; Previously owned by Stanislas Baron ; wool; H x W: 15.3 x 14.6 cm (6 x 5 3/4 in.); Gift of John Pierpont Morgan; 1902-1-72

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

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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/18132561/ |title=Square (Egypt), 5th–7th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=27 July 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>