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Square (Egypt)

This is a Square. It is dated 3rd–4th century and we acquired it in 1902. Its medium is warp: s-spun linen; wefts: s-spun linen, s-spun wool and its technique is plain weave with discontinuous wefts (slit tapestry) with supplementary weft wrapping. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Knots were an apotropaic motif in late Roman Egypt, meaning that they were thought to protect against evil. The Greek word katadeo means both to physically bind and to spellbind. The presence of knot motifs on this burial pillow represents a hope for protection in death. Similar designs ornamented painted burial shrouds. While in late Roman and early Byzantine Egypt, knot motifs decorated objects of various media, including mosaics, statuary and metal dress accessories, they are especially prevalent on textiles, perhaps because of their fundamentally interlaced nature.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Spellbound.

This object was donated by John Pierpont Morgan. It is credited Gift of John Pierpont Morgan.

  • Sidewall (USA)
  • block-printed paper, embossed, hand-rubbed oil finish.
  • Gift of Birge Co., Inc..
  • 1944-79-19
  • Cap (Egypt)
  • untwisted silk, gilded parchment; z-spun linen lining.
  • Museum purchase through gift of Anonymous Donor.
  • 1949-64-7

Our curators have highlighted 8 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Fragment (Spain)
  • silk, metallic yarns (gilded parchment wound around linen core).
  • Gift of John Pierpont Morgan.
  • 1902-1-311

Its dimensions are

H x W: 45 x 43.8 cm (17 11/16 x 17 1/4 in. )

Cite this object as

Square (Egypt); Previously owned by Stanislas Baron ; warp: s-spun linen; wefts: s-spun linen, s-spun wool; H x W: 45 x 43.8 cm (17 11/16 x 17 1/4 in. ); Gift of John Pierpont Morgan; 1902-1-116

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Hewitt Sisters Collect.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Square (Egypt) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=29 November 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>