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Trim piece, (untitled), ca. 700
Trim piece, (untitled),

Trim piece, (untitled),
ca. 700

Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Ausstellungsstrasse 60
8031 Zurich
Museum map
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Toni-Areal, Pfingstweidstrasse 94
8031 Zurich
  • (untitled) unbekannt
  • (untitled) unbekannt
  • (untitled) unbekannt
  • (untitled) unbekannt
Listen to the text

Coptic knitted trim pieces have survived over the centuries on the clothing of the deceased and textile burial objects. Created with great mastery and a fantastic repertoire of colors and patterns, they recount episodes from the real as well as the metaphysical world.

Examples of garment trim and furnishing fabrics produced from the third to tenth century in Egypt are commonly known as Coptic textiles. Even though the term “Copts” is still in use today to refer to Egyptians of the Christian faith, “Coptic” in the cultural sense doesn’t primarily mean Christian but rather Egyptian. The elaborately decorated pieces laid in graves to accompany the deceased have been preserved in the sand and give us insights into the imagery of the period. When they were found, the vertical bands (clavi), as well as the square and round ornament panels (tabulae, orbiculi, and sigilla), were cut out of the undecorated linen cloth of the tunics. Even with scientific methods of analysis, their exact dating remains problematic, while the previous dating method according to changing styles and the degree of abstraction has proven to be deceptive. The monochrome-purple slit tapestry depicts a dance and hunting scene and shows a group of fragmented figures in motion that emerge—almost like an optical illusion—out of the violet background. The tapestry was executed with wool thread on a linen ground, while the fine white borders were embroidered using the “flying needle” technique. For the outer frame, a “meander pattern” from Crete was chosen, one of many popular meander patterns influenced by Hellenistic styles. Other popular motifs included detailed-naturalist or abstracted animal and plant depictions. Christian horsemen with halos are found next to pagan motifs such as winged cupids and the pleasure-seeking Dionysus with his vine-entwined staff. (Sabine Flaschberger)

Besatzstück einer koptischen Tunika, um 700
Entwurf/Ausführung: unbekannt
Material/Technik: Wolle, Leinen, Schlitzwirkerei
20 × 20 cm
Eigentum: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Erika Billeter, Sammlungskatalog 2 – Aussereuropäische Textilien, Zürich 196x.

Image creditso

Besatzstück einer koptischen Tunika, um 700, Entwurf/Ausführung: unbekannt
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Fragment einer koptischen Decke, um 500, Entwurf/Ausführung: unbekannt
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Fragment eines koptischen Clavus, um 500, Entwurf/Ausführung: unbekannt
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Zierstückfragmente eines koptischen Gewebes, um 700, Entwurf/Ausführung: unbekannt
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Teil einer koptischen Tunika, um 600, Entwurf/Ausführung: unbekannt
Abbildung: Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / ZHdK

Exhibition texto
Textiles: Pictorial Solutions

In 1917, the painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880–1938) moved to Davos, where folk motifs increasingly influenced his work. On the pillow cover Dance from the early twenties, the focus is instead on urban artistes. The scene, rendered in petit point by Elsy Bosshart-Forrer, derives its appeal from its expressionist color scheme and the cinematic movement of muscular limbs, while the alpine Sunday scene with its strong division into layers is conceived instead as a static idyllic setting.

These modern images bear a surprising resemblance to the Coptic weaving from the sixth to eighth century. The finely woven pieces show ecstatic dancers and, in analogy to the alpine fauna, the aquatic world of the Nile.