One of the most fascinating groups of ancient textiles available for study by modern-day scholars, are the tapestry-woven fragments of the Coptic Period in Egypt, from the late-3rd to the mid-7th centuries. This era – after the Pharoahs and before the Muslim rulers – saw an explosion of figurative designs and portraits, characterised by the intense gaze and large eyes of those represented.
At the same time, non-Christian weavers in Egypt were linked to their Mediterranean and near-Eastern neighbours in their production of colourful and highly decorative flat-woven covers and rugs.
DR SUSAN SCOLLAY is an independent art historian specialising in Islamic art and culture and in historic textiles. She is a contributing editor to HALI, the prestigious, London-based journal of carpet, textile and Islamic art, and is a fellow of The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain.
Susan has lectured at The Johnston Collection since 2008 and in 2010 was guest curator of FLUID BORDERS: Ways of Seeing Oriental Rugs.
detail: Coptic Textile, 6th century AD, Egypt, Google Art Project, Wikimedia Common