Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Coptic Textile Fragment with Image of a Goddess

Object Name:
late 3rd–4th century
Attributed to Egypt
Linen, wool; plain weave, weft-loop pile
Textile: H. 22 1/16 in. (56 cm) W. 24 13/16 in. (63 cm) Mount: H. 26 1/4 in. (66.7 cm) W. 29 1/4 in. (74.3 cm) D. 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Helen Miller Gould, 1910
Accession Number:
Not on view
The use of gold in the depiction of the female head on this fragment may be an allusion to the moon, or to moonlight. The crescent-shaped ornament in the woman’s hair identifies the image as a personification of Luna, the moon, or Diana, goddess of hunting and the chase. In classical mythology, Diana also presides over childbirth and protects the young. Such images were widely used on textiles, wall paintings, and mosaics throughout the Late Antique world. While large textile fragments like this one were discovered as burial wrappings, they probably originally belonged in a domestic setting and their exact use remains uncertain.
Chauncey Murch, Luxor, Egypt (until d. 1907); Mrs. Chauncey Murch(1907–10); Helen Miller Gould, New York (1910; gifted to MMA)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Textiles of Late Antiquity," December 14, 1995–April 7, 1996, no. 8.

Stauffer, Annmarie. Textiles of Late Antiquity. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 8, listed p.44, ill. p. 32 (color).

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