Fragment of a multi-coloured woollen rug

From a tomb at Qasr Ibrim, Egypt
Coptic period, 4th-6th century AD

Possibly a schematic representation of a garden

Ancient rugs are rarely found in Egypt. This example is preserved to its full length, and the scheme of decoration suggests that over half its width remains. The pile of the rug was made using loops of wool.

Along the length of the rug is a border consisting of a row of triangular arches supported on columns with bell-shaped capitals. Between the arches are tall trees, perhaps palms. Under each arch is a tree, one of two alternating types, both of which appear to have blossom on them. In the centre of the rug is a red panel with a rectangular frame of blue running waves. On the right are two rows of what may be flowers. It is possible that the decoration was intended to represent a garden.

The colours used on the rug are comparable with late Classical and early Christian subjects. The use of floral motifs in textiles can be seen in examples from the Hellenistic period, but reach their most elaborate and schematized form in the Coptic period. It is likely that this rug was made within Egypt, and comparable examples have been found at Antinoë on the east bank of the Nile and Bahnasa on the west bank.

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More information


J.H. Taylor, Egypt and Nubia (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)


Length: 210.000 cm
Width: 80.000 cm

Museum number

EA 66708


Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society, from their excavation at Qasr Ibrim


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