Nilotic Scene Scenes from the Nile River
4th - 7th century
Wool and linen
L. 46.0 cm; W. (top band) 47.0 cm
William Lowe Bryan Memorial
IUAM 60.92A

The two tapestry pieces--the band with two vertical stripes or clavi, (right) and the square panel or segmentum, (below) most likely come from the same cloth. They could have decorated a tunic, or a shawl, or even a tablecloth.

A plethora of colorful, intricately detailed figures, fauna, and flora fill the red ground of these tapestry, ornaments. The reclining Nile god appears in the upper corners of the galloon's top band (right) and also in the central medallion of the segmentum (below), where he holds the cornucopia or the horn of plenty. Twice he is accompanied by Euthenia, the female personification of abundance. Playful putti cavort with fishes, ducks, and snakes, and ride in boats and on the backs of sea creatures (crocodiles or perhaps turtles). On each vertical band a figure brings home a deer, the bounty of a successful hunt. In the Coptic tradition of horror vacui, the space is teeming with fish, shells, lotus, and papyrus plants. A border of indigo wool with a crested wave pattern creates an appropriate enclosure for this harvest of the Nile.

Nilotic segmentum Nilotic Segmentum
4th - 7th century
Wool and linen
L. 26.0 cm; W. 22.0 cm
William Lowe Bryan Memorial
60.92B

Brightly colored textiles depicting the abundance and prosperity resulting from the cyclic flooding of the Nile were popular with weavers and wearers. The landscape of the Nile became a distinctive and repeated pictorial theme in the Roman world and particularly lent itself to large mosaic representations, of which the most famous one resides at Praeneste, near Rome.

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