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TAPE´TE (τάπης, τάπις, or δάπις), a piece of tapestry, a carpet.

The use of tapestry was in very ancient times [p. 2.762]characteristic of Oriental rather than of European habits (Athen. 2.48 n); we find that the Asiatic, and also the Carthaginians, who were of Asiatic origin, and the Egyptians, excelled in the manufacture of carpets, displayed them on festivals and other public occasions, and gave them as presents to their friends (Xen. Anab. 7.3, § 18, 27). They were nevertheless used by the Greeks as early as the age of Homer, sometimes as pillows, sometimes as coverlets (Il. 10.156; 16.224; 24.230, 645;--Od. 4.298; 7.337), and by some of the later Roman emperors they were given as presents to the combatants at the Circensian Games (Sidon. Apoll. Carm. 23.427). The places most renowned for the manufacture were Babylon (Arrian, Exped. Alex. 6.29.5; Sidon. Apoll. Epist. 9.13), Tyre and Sidon (Heliodor. v. p. 252, ed. Commelin.), Sardes (Athen. 2.48 b, vi. p. 255 ed, xii. p. 514 c; Non. Marcell. p. 542), Miletus (Aristoph. Frogs 542), Alexandria (Plaut. Pseud. 1.2, 13), Carthage (Athen. 1.28 a), and Corinth (Id. i. p. 27 d). In reference to the texture, these articles were distinguished as those which were light and thin with but little nap, chiefly made at Sardes and called ψιλοτάπιδες (Athen. 6.255 e, xii. p. 514 c; D. L. 5.72), and those in which the nap (μαλλὸς) was more abundant, and which were soft and woolly (οὖλοι, Hom. Il. 16.224; μαλακοῦ ἐρίοιο, 4.124). The thicker and more expensive kinds (μαλλωτοὶ) resembled our baize or drugget, or even our soft and warm blankets, and were of two sorts, viz. those which had the nap on one side only (ἑτερόμαλλοι), and those which had it on both sides, called ἀμφίταποι (Athen. 5.197 b, vi. p. 255 e; D. L. 5.72, 73), amphitapae (Non. Marcell. p. 540; Lucil. Sat. i. p. 188, ed. Bip.), or ἀμφιτάπητες (Eustath. in Hom. Il. 9.200), and also ἀμφίμαλλοι or amphimalla (Plin. Nat. 8.193). They were frequently of splendid colours, being dyed either with the kermes (Hor. Sat. 2.6, 102-106) or with the murex (conchyliata, ἁλουργεῖς, ἁλιπορφύροι), and having figures, especially hunting-pieces, woven into them (Sidon. Apoll. l.c.: Plaut. Pseud. 1.2, 14; Stich. 2.2, 54; Lucret. 2.35; Oribas. ii. p. 310, ed. Daremberg). These fine specimens of tapestry were spread upon thrones or chairs, and upon benches, couches, or sofas, at entertainments (Hom. Il. 9.200, Od. 4.124, 20.150; Verg. A. 1.639, 697-700; Ovid, Ov. Met. 13.638; Cic. Tusc. 5.21, 61; LECTUS), more especially at the nuptials of persons of distinction. Catullus (64.47-220) represents one to have been so employed, which exhibited the whole story of Theseus and Ariadne. They were also used to sleep upon (Hom. Il. 10.156; Anac. 8.1, 2; Theocr. 15.125; Aristoph. Pl. 540; Verg. A. 9.325, 358), and for the clothing of horses (Aen. 7.277). The tapestry used to decorate the bier and catafalque at the APOTHEOSIS of a Roman emperor was interwoven with gold (Herodian, 4.2, p. 82, ed. Bekker). The Orientals upon occasions of state and ceremony spread carpets both over their floors and upon the ground (Aeschyl. Agam. 910-960; Athen. 4.131 b, xii. p. 514 c). [For the use of tapestry or Persian carpets as wall-hangings, portières, &c., see AULAEA.]

The toralia (valances, cf. LECTUS p. 19 a) were sometimes segmentatae, i.e. either patchwork, or ornamented with “applique” work, pieces of tapestry or of embroidery in gold and colours sewn upon the toral (or vestis) in different shapes, as squares, rounds or stripes (Juv. 6.89), and frequently in Arval inscriptions (see Marquardt, Privatl. 548). Tertullian calls the process “vestes purpura oculare” (de Pud. 8).

Besides the terms which have now been explained, the same articles of domestic furniture had denominations arising from the mode of using them, either in the TRICLINIUM (tricliniaria Babylonica, Plin. Nat. 8.48.196) or in the CUBICULUM (cubicularia polymita, Mart. 14.150), and especially from the constant practice of spreading them out (textile stragulum, Cic. Tusc. 5.21, 61; vestis strageula, Liv. 34.7; Hor. Sat. 2.3, 118; στρωμναί, Plut. Lycurg. p. 86; Athen. 4.142 a, στρώματα, ii. p. 48 d). The Greek term peristroma, which was transferred into the Latin (Diog. Laert. l.c.; Plaut. Stich. 2.2, 54; Cic. Phil. 2.27, 167), had probably the special signification of valance or drapery round the sides of the couch: the distinction is marked in Athen. 2.48 c (cf. v. p. 197 b), and a representation of such peristromata on a funeral couch may be seen under FUNUS Vol. I. p. 890. Its meaning therefore is much the same as that of toral, but it probably included (as indeed toral may have done) coverlets so large that they not only covered the couch, as στρώματα, but also hung down in drapery (Becker-Göll, Charikies, 2.77; Marquardt, Privatl. 586; Semper, der Stil. p. 258). The word plagulae is sometimes used as equivalent to stragula or στρώματα, but usually means a curtain [see LECTICA].

[J.Y] [G.E.M]

hide References (25 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (25):
    • Aristophanes, Frogs, 542
    • Aristophanes, Plutus, 540
    • Homer, Iliad, 9.200
    • Homer, Odyssey, 20.150
    • Homer, Odyssey, 4.124
    • Homer, Odyssey, 4.298
    • Homer, Odyssey, 7.337
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 7.3
    • Homer, Iliad, 10.156
    • Homer, Iliad, 16.224
    • Homer, Iliad, 24.230
    • Homer, Iliad, 24.645
    • Cicero, Philippics, 2.27
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 13.638
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 1.639
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 1.697
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 1.700
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 9.325
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 9.358
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.48
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 34, 7
    • Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, 5.21
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 1.28
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 2.48
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.150
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