after treatment Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Tunic Front: Riders and Dancers
Textile Arts
Work Type
4th-5th century CE
Byzantine period, Early
Persistent Link
Level 3, Room 3740, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Ancient Egypt: Art for Eternity
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Physical Descriptions
Linen and wool, tapestry woven
Woven, mixed technique
33.66 x 57.15 cm (13 1/4 x 22 1/2 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Charles Bain Hoyt
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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This finely woven textile fragment is either the front or back of a tunic. The two monochrome, tapestry-woven shoulder bands (clavi) contain lions, rabbits, riders, dancers/hunters, birds, and flowers in black against a buff background. The designs are black against an undyed background. Motifs include: a plant with three eight-petalled flowers; a predator-prey pair consisting of a lion, spotted hound, or leopard hunting a rabbit or a gazelle; riders with hands raised upon prancing horses; dancers, some wrapped with sashes and some dangling vines from their hands. While most of the motifs are oriented in the same way in both bands, the riders are paired across the tunic bands and are mirror symmetrical. The bottom edge of this tunic is intact and is marked with a row of vertical black rectangles. A wave scroll borders the bands.
The area between the clavi is plain-woven undyed linen.
This textile sits on a support of light colored plain-woven linen.
The subject matter of animals, plants, riders, and dancers relates to the joyful bucolic, villa life of the elite – a common theme for Byzantine textiles.
Exhibition History

32Q: 3740 Egyptian, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/20/2019 - 11/15/2021

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at