The Copts are an ethnic and religious minority in
Egypt and the largest Christian community in the Middle East. The Coptic Church
split from the Eastern Church in the 5th century, mainly due to dogmatic
reasons. The Copts are descendants of the ancient Egyptians, who did not
convert to Islam after the Arab (641) or after the Turkish (1517) occupation,
but remained Christian. An estimated 15–18 million live in Egypt today, and 1.5
to 2 million in the diaspora. They are led by the patriarch of Alexandria. A Christian Coptic Orthodox Diocese is
registered in Slovenia as well.
Collection of Coptic Textiles in the 19th Century
As a rarity, Coptic textiles were brought to Europe as early as the 17th century, but a real collector fever began in the second half of the 19th century. According to the practice of the time, excavators and resellers often cut Coptic clothing and shrouds into several pieces. Mainly the decorated pieces were preserved, while the linen remnants, which did not make a special impression on them, were mostly discarded. Thus, they created more specimens that could then be sold to more buyers, collectors and museums. Except for rare cases, therefore, most Coptic textiles are preserved only fragmentarily, and related pieces or even parts of the same garment can sometimes be found in different museum collections.
Collection of Coptic textiles in the National Museum of Slovenia
Among the oldest preserved textiles in the
collections of the National Museum of Slovenia are the picturesque textiles
that are the work of the Copts. At the initiative of the curator Alfonz
Müllner, the Provincial Museum of Carniola purchased them in 1890 from the
painter Karl Blumauer of Linz, who acquired them from the leading collector of
Coptic textiles at that time, Dr. Franz Bock.