Koptisches Stofffragment – Figürliche Darstellung, 4. Jh. Wirkerei, Kette: Leinen, Schuss: Wolle und Leinen 37 x 18 cm, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Foto: Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz/May Voigt

Upper Egyptian Textiles of Late Antiquity

Funded by the International Museum Fellowship Programme

Study of the Coptic Fabric Collection

The “Chemnitz Fabric Collection” has long been known for its extraordinary pattern studio featuring the 19th-century textile industry. Not only did fabrics from around the world make their way into the museum, but also to numerous local manufacturers. The textile designs of that period – from historicism to Jugendstil – were inspired by these collections of handcrafted fabrics. Today, many years after the demise of the textile industry in Chemnitz, these foreign-made fabrics have lost much of their significance. Tapestries, blankets and pieces of clothing, such as tunics from Upper Egypt featuring stunning figurative depictions, are preserved in darkened storehouses and yet are fading from public memory despite their high quality and historic value. The fellowship intends to address this problem.

The fellow will scientifically examine and categorise the collection of Coptic fabrics – textiles of late antiquity dating back to the 4th to 9th century AD – in order prepare the specimens for a major exhibition marking the 875th anniversary of Chemnitz in 2018. Most of the pieces are decorative in nature, such as interior textiles and large-format robes. The ornamental elements and pictures on such fabrics and clothing provide important insights into the dealings of society in late antiquity.

The project will enable the fellow to share expertise with other collections, position his/her new findings in a global context, and put the items in the Chemnitz collection to good use.