Fragment of a Segmentum with Palmette Tree

Fragment of a Segmentum with Palmette Tree


Compound twill, silk

Overall: 7.9 x 8.6 cm (3 1/8 x 3 3/8 in.); Mounted: 14 x 15.2 cm (5 1/2 x 6 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1982.292



Originally, these luxurious silk roundels, each with at least three matching pieces, were cut and sewn onto the front and back of a tunic, probably linen, in Egypt. They belong to a sizeable group of comparable silk decorations found in Akhmim, Egypt. In each roundel, a stylized palmette tree is enclosed within a simplified lotus border which evolved from an ancient Egyptian lotus motif. These delicate silks were woven on large looms with automatic pattern repetition, called drawlooms. Dark blue and ivory silk horizontal wefts dominate, interlaced by vertical warps in a diagonal twill weave. A second inner warp does not come to the surface; one inner warp is visible between each interlacing warp. This compound weave, with two warps, is often called complementary weft twill with inner warps (samit).

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