Textile with Dionysian figures
Date: late fifth–early sixth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Egypt
Dimensions: 64.8 × 147.3 cm
Description: This polychrome woven textile depicted fifteen male and female figures in the retinue of the wine god Dionysos. It demonstrates the persistence of classical (Greco-Roman) culture in the early Byzantine world, which included Egypt, where this piece was likely made and found. There were still adherents of paganism in the fifth to sixth century, but the textile's owners could have been well-to-do educated people of any faith who were proud of their learning and considered these images part of their cultural identity. The compact interlace and surface patterning, combined with strong outlines and schematic modeling of the garments, are also found in contemporary floor mosaics, which helps date this work. Sizable textiles like this were used as wall hangings and room dividers in private homes.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 2, 3
Repository and Online Resources: • Read more about this textile on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website (acc. no. 31.9.3)
Image Credits: Metropolitan Museum of Art