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Textile Fragment with Young Christ

This textile fragment is a fine example of a technique called resist printing. The design was sketched on the linen cloth, a section of it was covered with wax or clay and left to dry, and then the cloth was plunged into a vat of indigo dye. The reserved sections resisted the dye and remained the color of the cloth, creating a stark contrast to the dark blue of the rest of the fabric. The contrast is still clear, although the rich color has faded. The subject matter focuses on a youthful Christ, who is seated in an architectural niche with another partially visible seated figure. From the arrangement of this fragment, one can discern that this cloth was part of a much larger panel. The enthroned Christ would have been centrally placed and flanked by his apostles in a colonnaded setting. This composition was very popular in the late antique period and, given its liturgical nature, it might have been used as a wall hanging in a church. Christ raises his hand in a blessing and looks to the figure on his right, who is identified as "Cimon"—the apostle Simon Peter.

Coptic (Egypt)
Textile Fragment with Young Christ
5th century AD
Linen, indigo dye
17 3/4 x 26 3/8 in. (45.5 x 67.0 cm)
Eskenazi Museum of Art, 72.126.3