© Benaki Museum

Name of Object:

Pile carpet fragment


Athens, Greece

Holding Museum:

Benaki Museum


8th-10th century

Type of object:


Museum Inventory Number:



28.5 x 43 cm




It is made up of three pieces and the original size was probably about 43cm square: more than half the lower section of the carpet survives, including the selvedges, and as the width is known, the height can be calculated on the basis of the pattern. It is possible, though less likely, that it had a repeating pattern and was intended for use as a runner. The lozenges of the single border (width 6-7cm) gain in vividness from the interplay of successive dark and light colours. The central square is dominated by a cruciform decoration with a dark contour, which probably contains stylised animals or birds, woven with white cotton. Similar decoration is often found on contemporaneous Coptic textiles. The abrashed deep red colour of the field and the rich details in cotton give the carpet its special quality. Although the pile has relatively few loops, it appears thick and well-preserved. The carpet probably passed through a fuller’s workshop for finishing.

How date and origin were established:

It belongs to a group of fragments attributed to Egypt and their dating between the 8th and the 11th century

How Object was obtained:

Purchased from Fokion Tanos

How provenance was established:

Factors that determine the provenance: 1. The use of linen, which is the basic Egyptian fibre, for both warps and wefts; 2. The left-twisting (S) spin of the materials is also an Egyptian feature. Linen warps S-spun, Z-plied are found in Coptic fabrics of the 9th-10th century. Right-twisted spinning (Z) is rarely found in Group A; 3. The technique of weaving with cut-pile loops which continues the long-standing Egyptian tradition of weaving with a pile made of loops; 4. The pattern, colouring and techniques of this group fragments bear a close resemblance to contemporaneous Coptic textiles. 5. The fragments display similarities to certain inscribed and non-inscribed fragments from Fustat.

Selected bibliography:

Published in Theologou, J., Ozoline, A., Sartzetakis, Y., "Fustat Carpet Fragments", Hali, 156 (summer 2008): 65-71.

Citation of this web page:

Mina Moraitou "Pile carpet fragment" in [Discover Carpet Art] , Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;DCA;gr;Mus31;2;en&id=carpets

Prepared by: Mina Moraitou

MWNF Working Number: GR1_002

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