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Coptic tunic fragment showing bacchanalia

Byzantine period

Circa 4th century AD

Linen

Height 23cm, length 38.6cm
Framed dimensions, 36.3 x 51.9cm

Three female and one male figure are shown dancing in procession, spaced amongst a series of aediculae, framed by ionic columns with fanned palmettes in the arches above.

One hand raised, the other bent downwards, the women wear sheer dresses that fully expose one of their breasts, whilst the man has a bare torso and wears a short cloth around his waist. In the arches above them are fanned palmettes. Some wear and staining, the losses made good from associated linens.

This is a very un-Christian motif, though common in Coptic art, often used for the yoke ornament of tunics. These figures are sometimes referred to as bacchantes and satyrs; their gestures and ecstatic movement indicate the excitement of the dance.

Others have suggested that, when received in a religious context, nudity is intrinsically linked with spiritual purity and that the architecture in the current example represents a side aisle of a church nave.

Provenance

Simone de Monbrison, Paris, France; acquired prior to 1969

Literature

Ludmila Kybalová, Coptic Textiles (London, 1967), p.66, no.13 and Diane Lee Carroll, Looms and Textiles of the Copts (California, 1986), p.120-121, no.31

Dimensions

Height 23cm, Length 38.6cm

Price on application



Stock number

10319
Open Monday-Friday 10-6

The BADA Standard

  • Since 1918, BADA has been the leading association for the antiques and fine art trade
  • Members are elected for their knowledge, integrity and quality of stock
  • Our clients are protected by BADA’s code of conduct
  • Our dealers’ membership is reviewed and renewed annually
  • Bada.org is a non-profit site: clients deal directly with members and they pay no hidden fees
Click here for more information on the BADA Standard