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Treasures From Coptic Culture




a complex, ornate design of intertwined floral, foliate, and geometric figures


It is a name for Egyptians of the Christian faith and their Church. It is also the name for the last form of the ancient Egyptian language, which was written with mostly Greek letters. The Coptic language survives only as a liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church.


traditional images or symbols associated with a subject


the name of a religion that is centered on the Qur'an, the word of God as passed through the Prophet Muhammad


A myth is a traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people. A myth may explain aspects of the natural world or delineate the psychology, customs, or ideals of society


a body or collection of myths belonging to a people and addressing their origin, history, deities, ancestors, and heroes


a minor divinity represented as a beautiful maiden, inhabiting and sometimes personifying features of nature such as trees, waters, and mountains

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Greek Influence on Coptic Art
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Ivory (mostly from hippopotamus) was primarily used in Egypt to ornament pieces of furniture and utensils of personal daily life like small jewelry and cosmetic boxes. Ivory was engraved to create reliefs that were often painted with colors such as dark red, and light pink.

The tradition of carving ivory and using inlays was of long standing in Ancient Egypt. However, most of the ivory artifacts in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Museum date to the second century AD. The production of ivory objects continued well into the Islamic period, when small ivory artifacts were inlaid in wooden Arabesque artworks.

As for the scenes depicted, most of them are adapted from Greek mythology, such as gods or themes related to Greek and Egyptian cults. Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, was also frequently depicted, portrayed in the company of a dolphin or Eros. Occasionally she was depicted with a seashell, symbolizing her birth from the sea at the island of Cyprus. Nymphs are shown swimming or riding on top of a dolphin.

In the Coptic period, Isis suckling her child Horus or Harpocrates, bearing resemblance, in this aspect, to the iconography of the Virgin Mary suckling Jesus, were common in ivory work.

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Arts and Crafts
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Ivory Decoration for Furniture
Ivory Decoration for Furniture

Cosmetic Tools
Cosmetic Tools

Pectoral with a Small Coptic Cross
Pectoral with a Small Coptic Cross

Piece of Doll-Shaped Bone
Piece of Doll-Shaped Bone

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