Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Length of Very Sheer Linen Cloth

New Kingdom
Dynasty 18, early
reign of Thutmose II–Early Joint reign
ca. 1492–1473 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, Tomb of Hatnefer and Ramose (below TT 71), location not recorded, MMA excavations, 1935–36
Greatest length 515 cm (202 3/4 in); greatest width 161 cm (63 3/8 in); Weight 140 grams (5 oz.) 46 warp x 30 weft per sq. cm. These measurements made by Nobuko Kajitani and recorded by Nobuko Kajitani
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1936
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 116
The earliest Egyptian funerary texts list linen cloth among the principal offerings for the deceased, and price lists indicate that the finest quality fabric was highly prized. The tomb of Hatnofer and Ramose contained a variety of linen sheets that came from the storehouses of Queen Hatshepsut, a funerary gift for the parents of Senenmut, one of her favorite courtiers.

This sheet was woven of superfine thread that must have been spun from flax harvested when the plants were very young. The length of cloth would have taken months of constant industry to weave. The upper left corner has a series of inlaid weaver's marks, and the right corner, a single cross. One end of the sheet has a warp selvage; the other is finished with a plied fringe; and one weft selvage is decorated with an inlaid fringe. This cloth must be that described by the Egyptians as "royal linen," the highest quality. The sheerness of the featherweight fabric and its silken softness lend credence to New Kingdom representations of elaborately pleated garments that allow the contours of the body and even the color of the skin to show through. The cloth was repaired and laundered in ancient times.
Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1935–1936. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1936.

Hayes, William C. 1959. Scepter of Egypt II: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part II: The Hyksos Period and the New Kingdom (1675-1080 B.C.). Cambridge, Mass.: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 204.

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