Roundel Illustrating Episodes from the Biblical Story of Joseph

Object Name: Fragment of Roundel

Date: 7th century

Geography: Attributed to Egypt

Medium: Linen, wool; tapestry weave

Dimensions: Textile: Diam. 10 1/4 in. (26.1 cm)
Mount: H. 14 5/8 in. (37.1 cm)
W. 15 3/8 in. (39.1 cm)
D. 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Brocades

Credit Line: Gift of Charles K. and Irma B. Wilkinson, 1963

Accession Number: 63.178.2


Textiles like this one are thought to have been produced by Copts (Christian Egyptians) whose designs and motifs influenced the visual repertoire of the early Islamic period. This roundel utilizes explicitly Christian imagery—the life of Joseph, son of Jacob. The early life of Joseph appears to have been a popular source of imagery in Egypt, likely because the narrative largely takes place in that region. Roundels like this were often placed near the shoulders of a child’s garment, and the imagery here of Joseph’s childhood may have been considered as not only an appropriate choice for a child’s garment but also a protective one.