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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1931.46
Title
Roundel: Personification with Candelabra Plants
Classification
Textile Arts
Work Type
textile
Date
7th-8th century
Places
Creation Place: Africa, Egypt
Period
Byzantine period
Culture
Byzantine
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/213655
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Wool and linen
Technique
Woven, tapestry weave
Dimensions
20.32 cm (8 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Charles Bain Hoyt
Accession Year
1931
Object Number
1931.46
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Tapestry woven roundel (orbiculus). The small medallion at its center contains a female figure, likely a beneficent personification, with a green nimbus against a bright red background. Her breasts are distinguished in yellow against her dark blue torso. She wears a skirt with many folds and may be seated. The woman raises one arm and possibly holds up a leaf in a gesture common to depictions of personifications of the earth. Thin white supplementary threads above the woman’s right hand may be an unreadable interpretation of the inscriptions that often identify personifications. Eight thick, gold plant forms outlined in black surround the central medallion in a symmetrical arrangement; these plants are of the jeweled candelabra type often featured in textile medallions in the later part of Late Antiquity. Four of the vine-like plants contain birds, and the other four have leaves/flowers of various colors. Small birds and red dots fill the empty space within the main field. The borders of the central medallion and the larger design field are formed by interlocking color segments outlined in black. The outermost border is formed of red and yellow tendrils and blue dots.

Undyed warps run parallel to the orientation of the figural design.
Commentary
Matches MFA 16.313 from the Denman Waldo Ross Collection

Belongs to a certain style favoring bright primary colors, red backgrounds, borders of interlocking color segments, and compositions with female earth personifications at the center of roundels surrounded by a symmetrical arrangement plants, animals, and sometimes nereids. This style of textile is often dated to the 7-9th centuries.
Publication History

Ioli Kalavrezou, Byzantine Women and Their World, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2003), p. 271/fig. 161

Exhibition History

Byzantine Women and Their World, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/25/2002 - 04/28/2003

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu