The Coptic Horseman and its Preserved Cultural Identity

Elizabeth L. Hines, Portland State University

Abstract

The familiar image of a warrior atop a horse riding into battle can be seen in many different cultures across large spans of time and space. The symbolic meaning behind this image varies culturally, but it was traditionally seen as a symbol of political, military, or religious power. This image displayed on textiles depended not only on culture, but also in the geographical region from which it came, from where these Coptic fragments were originally cut, how they were woven, and how they were used. This presentation will examine a fifth-century Egyptian Coptic textile displaying such an image, a textile in which there is little to no written analysis or documented scholarly publications. I will use visually similar Eastern Mediterranean Coptic textiles ranging from the late third to seventh century CE in order to survey and examine the varied meanings of the horseman imagery across their different periods and cultures. I will also analyze their functions in those ancient Egyptian, Byzantine, and Late Roman civilizations, as well as how the textiles were used and their physical makeup all in order to build a more concrete cultural history surrounding my mysterious and humble textile.

 
May 8th, 1:00 PM May 8th, 3:00 PM

The Coptic Horseman and its Preserved Cultural Identity

The familiar image of a warrior atop a horse riding into battle can be seen in many different cultures across large spans of time and space. The symbolic meaning behind this image varies culturally, but it was traditionally seen as a symbol of political, military, or religious power. This image displayed on textiles depended not only on culture, but also in the geographical region from which it came, from where these Coptic fragments were originally cut, how they were woven, and how they were used. This presentation will examine a fifth-century Egyptian Coptic textile displaying such an image, a textile in which there is little to no written analysis or documented scholarly publications. I will use visually similar Eastern Mediterranean Coptic textiles ranging from the late third to seventh century CE in order to survey and examine the varied meanings of the horseman imagery across their different periods and cultures. I will also analyze their functions in those ancient Egyptian, Byzantine, and Late Roman civilizations, as well as how the textiles were used and their physical makeup all in order to build a more concrete cultural history surrounding my mysterious and humble textile.