Clavus Fragment Clavus Fragment (detail)
8th-9th century
Wool and linen
L. 62.3 cm; W. 9.1 cm
76.38

Woven in a tapestry technique in madder-red, rose, blue, yellow, green, brown, and beige wools on a linen ground, this clavus, framed with a polychrome jeweled border, was once the colorful ornament for a tunic. In the length of the strip there are figures whose distorted limbs closely echo the curves of the stylized caulicole, or plant stems, with which they alternate. The subject is unclear. The schematized figures may be dancers with shawls, or Amazons with one breast exposed and wielding a shield, or orants with arms raised in prayer. The bust in the pendant medallion may represent a haloed saint, but more likely the "halo" is the figure's massive shock of hair. The composition and proportions have become stylized and wholly decorative, as is commonly found in later Coptic textiles.

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