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Square (Egypt)

This is a Square. It is dated 5th–7th century and we acquired it in 1902. Its medium is wool and its technique is plain weave with discontinuous wefts (slit tapestry). It is a part of the Textiles department.

Woven portrait busts were a popular way to decorate clothing and soft furnishings in late Roman (third-fourth century C.E.) and Byzantine (fourth-seventh century C.E.) Egypt. Records show that woven busts sometimes portrayed real people. For example, the Emperor Gratian (d. 383 C.E.) is known to have sent the Consul Ausonius a tunic featuring a woven portrait of Constantius. While this bust of a woman may represent a real person, the fragment contains no identifying attributes. The carefully-shaded jewels on the surrounding frame resemble the cabochon rubies and roughly faceted emeralds used in fine jewelry, suggesting that she was a woman of status. A depiction of the Empress Theodora in the Basilica San Vitale uses similar shading to depict the Empress’s jewels.

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

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

Our curators have highlighted 9 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Poster, Elvis
  • offset lithograph on paper.
  • Gift of Milton Glaser.
  • 1979-42-2

Its dimensions are

H x W: 15.3 x 14.6 cm (6 x 5 3/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Square (Egypt); wool; H x W: 15.3 x 14.6 cm (6 x 5 3/4 in.); Gift of John Pierpont Morgan; 1902-1-72

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Maira Kalman Selects.

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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=20 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>