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The fragment of a Coptic fabric was purchased in Cairo by soldiers of the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade during WW II and subsequently granted to the Archaeological Museum. It is a fragment of a linen fabric with two vertically sewn straps of different widths. 

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The fragment of a Coptic fabric was purchased in Cairo by soldiers of the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade during WW II and subsequently granted to the Archaeological Museum. It is a fragment of a linen fabric with two vertically sewn straps of different widths. The lower depiction presents the scene of Abraham’s sacrifice, while the upper one shows Joseph – one of the twelve sons of the Patriarch Jacob – at the well. On the narrower strap there are two clipei, into which the heads of bearded men (assumedly prophets) are inscribed. The straps were the clavi decoration of a tunic sleeve. The wider strap is flanked with a rim of a stylised yellow twig ornament set against a black background, common in Coptic art. Both scenes are presented against a deep red background. Abraham’s sacrifice is an illustration of the Biblical event described in the Book of Genesis (22: 1-24), a subject highly popular in paintings and sculptures in Coptic Egypt. The fabric described here represents the type with the depictions of Abraham, an angel, and a lamb. The son of Abraham, Isaac, was purposely eliminated from the scene. Above the lamb, on the right side of the angel, tongues of fire from the sacrificial altar are shown. Joseph at the well is an illustration of the Biblical event described in the Book of Genesis (37: 18-36). In this scene, there are two figures: Joseph depicted in the ¾ bust, assumedly at the moment of being taken out from the well and Joseph’s brother, probably Reuben, in the gesture of an orant. The well is marked as a spindle-shaped structure consisting of five stone blocks placed in horizontal rows. The assumption that the second figure presented in this scene is Reuben is based on the story of the Biblical event, as he was the only brother who objected the killing of Joseph (Genesis 37: 22). The figure of Joseph, being a favourite for Egyptian Christians, is the most frequently presented character in Coptic iconography.

Elaborated by Krzysztof Babraj (Archaeological Museum in Kraków), © all rights reserved

 

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Fragment of a Coptic fabric

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