17 May, 2011

Spinning and Weaving in Palestine

I got a used copy of Shelagh Weir's Spinning and Weaving in Palestine in the mail.  Turned out the copy was unpleasantly musty.  Stuck it in a closed box for a while with some loosely wadded blank newsprint-type paper, the kind used for packing.  The pages smell better now.

I got the book because I'd seen this title in more than one bibliography in other books, and because as a Christian the area and its traditions are interesting to me.  There is a mat loom depicted for use with papyrus reed.  I wonder if it has any relation to the mats or pallets mentioned in the New Testament.

The book is brief, forty pages, but still comprehensive.  I learned that sea water makes dye fast.

The spindles in the illustrations are of monster proportions, between 14 and 18 1/4 inches long.  They are top whorl, and the shafts are a bit irregular, possibly warped out of true and probably shaped more roughly than your typical modern spindle.

Weir describes spindles used either rolled or dropped.

Weir writes that she saw Turkish spindles used by old men.  (Turkish spindles have crosspieces rather than a whorl.)

There are a couple of photos that show bare feet tensioning a weft thread or twirling a supported spindle.  Very exotic.

Writing in 1970, Weir found first-hand material for the book, but she notes her reliance on older publications for "some of the processes and apparatus which have long since gone out of use."  I'll leave you with this quote about the way things once were:
Before European textiles began to flood the markets in the last part of the nineteenth century, textile production in Palestine was a flourishing industry, and can be counted as one of the more important occupations of the townspeople.

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