Roman Burial Pillow 1

Submitted by Jahanara on Sun, 08/01/2021 - 11:52
Wool single Z spun
wool z spun

This pillow was one of 3 found in a burial at Anitone. The original is now housed at the Musuee Historique des Tissus. The pillows were dated to the 3rd C AD from the unique burial methods used (Becker).

Taquete has been found in Roman digs dated to the First Century AD. The First Century textiles are woven using wool warp and weft, whereas Third Century textiles of these structures used silk thread. However, Wild traced these textiles to Syrian workshops  (Wild a, 2003).  Three pillows held in the Gayet Collection in Lyon were found in a Roman-Egyptian cemetery and are woven in taquete (Becker, 1987; Hoskins, 2002). These pillows were found in burials which utilized plaster masks and painted linen, which was not used after the end of the 3rd century AD (Becker, 1987). The pillows have been dated by the unusual burial methods used in the grave, which were not in use after the early 3rd Century AD (Becker,1987).

Becker stated that Egyptian weavers were using S-spun wool yarn in this time period. The pillows’ wool threads are all Z-spun (Becker, 1987). It was therefore concluded these pillows were made of cloth woven in Western Asia, most likely Persia (Becker, 1987). However this textile could be listed as Roman, because it was found in a Roman dig and thus Romans had access to this type of cloth. As textiles are easily transported and a known commodity during this era, it has been far easier to determine which textiles a culture had access to than it has been to prove which weave structures were woven in a particular place.

This pillow was woven on a yellow and beige background. The design elements included blue leaves on a yellow background, and on the beige background red Greek frets, blue waves, and a green ivy motif (Hoskins, 2002). The sett was estimated to be 14-17 epcm (40 epi), the original pattern was woven using a repeat of twenty-seven pattern ends (Becker, 1987; Hoskins, 1992). Ther textile exhibited more drawn in at the edges than at the middle, which Becker suggested this as evidence the cloth was woven without a reed. I am not so convinced this is evidence that a reed was not in place as draw in always occurs more so at the selvedges and especially in weft faced weaves. This is the main reason many modern weavers use a variety of devices to prevent this from happening in weft faced weaves. Becker (1992) noted this cloth might have been woven on a horizontal loom with pattern rods or on an early drawloom, it is unclear which technology was used as there no date for the existence of the drawloom in Western Asia has been established.

The section below shows my sample based on this pillow. My samples was woven using Hoskins adaptation for 14 pattern harnesses on a drawloom. Hoskins pattern was adapted from the pillow finds in Antinoe. This pattern included fretts, waves, and leaves from the pillow finds. After having woven this on a drawloom, I am questioning where a simple taquete would likely have been woven using the heddle rod method. The drawloom was likely used for more complicated patterns, such as those of the Senmurv silk of the Sasanid era. However it is my opinion that patterns using less than 20 pattern shafts do not necessarily warrant the complicated set up of a drawloom. Though most re-enactors may not own a loom suitable for this technique with less than 14 pattern shafts available for taquete and 12 pattern shafts for samitum, the use of heddle rods should be feasible wiht this technique. I would advise anyone wishing to recreate such taquetes to use a 16 shaft table loom, if one is available, or make heddle rods for looms available to the weaver.

Cloth woven by Jahanara based on this extant textile

Taquete Sample 1

Submitted by Jahanara on Sat, 07/31/2021 - 07:50

These are my first taquete samples. These samples were woven on my drawloom as part of an experiment to see how weaving taquete would work on a drawloom. There is much debate as to whether there sumptous fabrics were woven on the drawloom or using heddle rods. I will experiment furhter weaving taquete samples on a table loom, which somewhat simulates a hortizontal loom with heddle rods.

These patterns used for this sample come from Tabby to Taquete. These are advanced designs from the later part of the book, these designs were taken from burial pillows found in Egypt.

Weave Structure
Portfolio Images
A cloth with a yellow background from bottom to top teal fretts, purple ivyu, blue waves, and green leaves motifs.
Cover Image
A cloth with a yellow background from bottom to top teal fretts, purple ivyu, blue waves, and green leaves motifs.

Taquete Pillow

Submitted by Jahanara on Sat, 07/31/2021 - 12:45

Warp Yarn: 
Organic Cotton
Weft yarn: 
2/11 wool
Historical information
This entry was inspired by one of 3  patterned woven textiles were found in Gayet’s Antinoe excavations. These textiles were pillows placed under the heads of Romans in the cemetery (Becker). The 3 pillows found by Albert Gayet in Egyptian cemetery in Antinoe have been dated to the first half of the 3rd Century (Becker,  Hoskins, Pritchard). A further 16 textiles were found as part of the EEF excavations from 1913-1914 (Prichard)
These textiles were dated according to burial methods in the find, the burial used painted coffin covers and sculpted plaster portraits (mummy masks, or cartonnages) (Becker & Hoskins).
These pillows were woven in taquete- a compound weft-faced plain weave. One pillow was woven with a pattern of blue leaves on a yellow background, red Greek frets on a white/natural background, blue wave motifs on a white/natural background, red Greek frets on a white/natural background, a green ivy pattern on a white/natural background, and another set of red Greek frets on a white/natural background. The weavers were careful to weave the textiles so as to be reversible, which is done when you ensure the plain areas are woven with the correct background colour. The back of the pillow was woven with a lozenge pattern in the natural weft colour (Becker & Hoskins).
However the pillows are designated as foreign imports. This determination was made because the pillows are woven in Z-spun woollen singles. Researchers agree that Egyptian weavers were using only S-spun yarn at this time. Becker, therefore attributed the pillows to Western Asian, likely Persian weavers, which makes this a great example for me to use, as a 7th C Persian weaver.
Technical details: (Becker & Hoskins)
Sett: 40 ends per inch (epi). Picks per inch (ppi): 44-48
Warp: Z spun wool singles Weft: Z spun wool singles, in natural, yellow, blue, red, and green.
Other examples of taquete in this period
Clothworkers Centre 899-1886 350-450 A.D. Woolen Taquete
Photo taken by me at the centre. I estimate the EPI: 20  PPI: 30
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<br>Photo by Erica J taken at the Clothworkers Centre.V^5hP*8uXfAd
<br>What I did</br>
I wove my pillow in purple, green, and yellow, because they are the colors of my heraldry and my personal preference. When weaving I believe you should weave for the preferences of the client, which was in this case myself. I used the pattern redrafted to require only 14 pattern shafts by Nancy Hoskins.
I used a sett of 10 epi, because this was the sett required for the materials I used. I used an organic cotton for the warp, which is a method used later than the Antinoe pillow, but not completely out of the realm of possibility in the 1st Century, but also more likely for the 7th C, which is my chosen period. Such as the later examples of taquete from Quseir al-Qadim, Fustat and Qasr Ibrim which used a cotton warp (Pritchard). Pritchard stated these speciality taquete fabrics were woven on into the Early Islamic Period (7th/8th C.) The back of this pillow was woven in weft faced tabby, rather than the lozenges, as this will be used for camp, not as a luxury item.
Warp: 18/2 Organic cotton
Weft: 12/2 wool yellow, purple, green S spun wool
Photo of the reverse of my cloth, note I took the same care as the original weavers to make my cloth reversible.
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Pillow construction
I was unable to obtain the original text where the in depth description of the pillow was given. I have therefore made, what I consider reasonable assumptions about the construction methods and stitches used. There are only 3 seams in a pillow, all of which take a fair amount of stress. I therefore used small back stitches to sew up the sides and the top seams. For the inside of the pillow, I used a small pillow we were not actually using took out the batting and used goose down feathers from another pillow that was not in use. I sewed up the sides of the pillow coverings, then sewed the inner pillow to be as large as would possible fit, for maximum comfort.
This pillow can serve a variety of uses, but will likely spend much time cushioning my seat in camp, when it is not being used as a cushion it can be used as a decorative pillow on our bed.
Works Cited
Becker, John. (1987). Pattern and Loom. Rhodos International Publishers, Copenhagen.
Hoskins, N.A. (1992). Weft-Faced Pattern Weaves: Tabby to Taquete. University of Washington Press.
Pritchard, F. (2015) Soft-furnishing textiles from the Egypt Exploration Fund season at Antinoupolis, 1913–14. British Museum. London.

Weave Structure
Portfolio Images
A pillow made of weft faced woven cloth in a yellow background rows of green ivy then rows of purple frett leaves
Cover Image
A pillow made of weft faced woven cloth in a yellow background rows of green ivy then rows of purple frett leaves