Coptic embroidery

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The Coptic peoples used chain stitch, cross stitch, whipped running stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch and split stitch, from the 1st century AD onwards. While weaving was a more common form of textile decoration, some embroidery does survive. The main base fabric for Coptic work is linen, with the embroidery done in wool and sometimes silk.

Materials Used

Stitches and Techniques


Due to the nature of the community that produced them, Coptic embroidery tends to be based around Christian religious themes, although not exclusivly so.

Extant Pieces

Sources for Further Information

  • Ellis, Marianne. Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt. Greenville, SC: Ashmolean Museum Oxford, 2001. ISBN 185444154X
  • Johnstone, Pauline. The Byzantine Tradition in Church Embroidery. Chicago: Argonaut, 1967. ISBN 0854581502
  • Gostelow, Mary. A World of Embroidery. New York: Scribner, 1975. ISBN 0263056554
  • Rutschowscaya, Marie-Helene. Coptic Fabrics. Paris: Adam Biro, 1990. ISBN 2876600846
  • Thompson, Deborah. Coptic Textiles in the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn Museum, 1971. ISBN 0913696110
  • Warner, Pamela. Embroidery: A History. London: Batsford, 1991. ISBN 0713461063