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Exhibition Tour: Social Fabrics

Tapestry depicting two rows of dark blue animals within interlocking vines.
Cuff band with animals in interlocking scrolls, Egypt, late 4th–early 5th century. Wool and linen, tapestry weave. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Benjamin and Lilian Hertzberg, 2004.204.


Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street
Cambridge MA

Join us for an in-depth tour of Social Fabrics: Inscribed Textiles from Medieval Egyptian Tombs, on view through May 8, 2022. The exploration of natural imagery creates a thread of continuity between Greco-Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic textile design in Egypt. This tour will consider how images of rabbits, birds, and coiling vines acted as symbols of abundance and prosperity throughout these periods of historical and religious change.

From swaddling newborns to enshrouding the deceased, woven fabrics touch nearly every aspect of human existence. The textiles in Social Fabrics: Inscribed Textiles from Medieval Egyptian Tombs are particularly meaningful, for they tell a bigger story about political and social power, class, trade, and concerns for the afterlife during a transformative period in Egyptian history. Speaking across centuries, the textiles—including loans from Dumbarton Oaks and other institutions—invite us to consider the ways in which we structure society and how we organize and announce our social relations.

Led by:
Katherine Taronas, Visiting Professor of Art History, Kenyon College

Tours are limited to 18 people, and it is required that you reserve your place. At 10am the day of the event, reservations will open and may be arranged online through this form. The tour reservation will also serve as your general museum reservation. If required, visitors will pay the museum admission fee upon arrival.

Please meet in the Calderwood Courtyard, in front of the digital screens between the shop and the admissions desk.

Please see the museum visit page to learn about our general policies for visiting the museum.

The Social Fabrics exhibition was made possible by the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund, the Islamic and Later Indian Art Scholarship Support Fund, the Eric Schroeder Fund, and the M. Victor Leventritt Lecture Series Endowment Fund.