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Coptic Textiles from the Collection of the National Museum of Slovenia
10. 10. 2019 to 24. 5. 2020
Open Today
Muzejska10:00 - 18:00
MetelkovaClosed
Snežnik Castle00:00 - 00:00
Bled CastleClosed
Ad PirumClosed

Coptic Textiles from the Collection of the National Museum of Slovenia

10 October 2019–24 May 2020, Metelkova
A Coptic tapestry with a variation of the tree of life theme; 6th–7th century; wool, linen; National Museum of Slovenia. Photo: Tomaž Lauko
A Coptic tapestry with a variation of the tree of life theme; 6th–7th century; wool, linen; National Museum of Slovenia. Photo: Tomaž Lauko
The collection of the picturesque Coptic textiles is certainly one that stands out from the many collections of the National Museum of Slovenia. These 53 textiles are the work of the Copts – the Christian population in Egypt. They testify to the wide variety of supports and decorations adorning tunics, shawls, and upholstery from the 3rd century to the period following the Arab conquests of Egypt in the late 7th century.

Coptic textiles are kept and displayed in various museums worldwide and have been the subject of numerous scientific researches, discussions and exhibitions. However, as new scientific findings have brought about changes in some longstanding interpretations, the experts of the National Museum of Slovenia have decided to re-examine and re-evaluate the collection of Coptic textiles using modern scientific techniques and methods and to present these beautiful, rare and invaluable artefacts to the public in the form of a exhibition and a special publication.

Events

  • Thursday, 10 October, 2019, at 7 pm: opening of the exhibition

Lectures

Guided tours

  • Sunday, 20 October, 2019, at 11 am: Muzejska premiera – prvi vodeni ogled razstave. Vodi dr. Jan Ciglenečki.

The Copts

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.


A fragment of a Coptic textile; 5th–6th cent.; Upper Egypt; linen, wool; National Museum of Slovenia. Photo: Tomaž Lauko
A fragment of a Coptic textile; 5th–6th cent.; Upper Egypt; linen, wool; National Museum of Slovenia. Photo: Tomaž Lauko
The Coptic Textiles from the Collection of the National Museum of Slovenia were conservated at the Conservation and Restoration Workshop of the Ptuj – Ormož Regional Museum. Photo: Blaž Gutman
The Coptic Textiles from the Collection of the National Museum of Slovenia were conservated at the Conservation and Restoration Workshop of the Ptuj – Ormož Regional Museum. Photo: Blaž Gutman
Open Today
Muzejska10:00 - 18:00
MetelkovaClosed
Snežnik Castle00:00 - 00:00
Bled CastleClosed
Ad PirumClosed