Syrian Silk Damask

Submitted by Jahanara on Sat, 07/31/2021 - 17:27
Time Period
8th C AD
9th C AD
10th C AD
11th C AD
Weave Structure

2128-1900 700-1000 possibly Syrian woven silk (damask)Reference Number: 2128-1900Date: 700-1000Culture: SyrianTechnique: DamaskSettPPINotes: purple on light purple background Museum description “A fragment of damask in bold purple and black. Possibly Syrian or Byzantine, ca. AD700-1000. Z-spun with brown warps. The design includes floral and geometric forms. The remaining form is like a large raspberry or flower bud hanging down. The fabric is badly damaged and the rest of the design is not obvious although there are some geometric lines around the bud that contain fleur-de-lis. The piece may have been hemmed around the edges or has been sewn to something else in the past. A damask is a reversible fabric of silk (also wool, linen or cotton) with a pattern formed from one warp and one weft. The pattern is in a warp-faced, satin weave with the background in weft-faced, sateen weave. Often with large floral designs. Damask was produced in ancient China but took it’s name from Damascus, Syria, where it was produced for European export in the 12th century.” 10" tall and. 5" wide Palmette 5.25" tall 4.5" wide 10 warp threads showing in .25" palmette leaf 1" tallphoto 147Photo reference numbers 146

The Clothworkers' Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion

A cloth with a light pink bacground and clover designs in mauroon the clover designs are laid out in a diamond pattern with diagonal lines creating diamonds in between
A cloth with a light pink bacground and clover designs in mauroon the clover designs are laid out in a diamond pattern with diagonal lines creating diamonds in between
Cloth woven by Jahanara based on this extant textile

Damask cowl

Submitted by Jahanara on Fri, 07/30/2021 - 21:23

8 meters 21"

Pattern Notes Rose pattern from Spies 7th C Egyptian pg. 131.

30/2 gemstone silk

36-40 epi

First sample 40 epi in 15 dent reed 2-3-3, see reed substitution chart

Second sample 20 epi reed 2-3-3

177 units of 8

15-20 pattern shafts

8 threads per Patten Shaft

Tie up see notes from Asheden video





189 pattern units @ 8 ends per unit


Winding the Warp about 7 hours

Threading pattern heddles approximately 14 hours

Threading Ground heddles approximately 6-14 hours (The Prisoner of Azkaban...)

Currently 30" wide.

This textile is based on several historical examples; one roman damask from the 1st C, a Syrian damask from the 8th-11th C, and a Sasanid samite textile (for the motifs). This textile was woven to be made into a Sasanid cowl and wrap, based on several Sasanid silverworkds. The motifs were chosen from Sasanid samite to represent the heraldry that I use in the SCA and my membership in the Order of the Rose. As a member of the Order of the Rose, Jahanara would be a member of the Royal family and therefore would primarily wear red and/or purple, thus purple was chosen for this cloth.

The Roman Damask

A piece of a tunic was found in Didymoi, a small Roman fortress in the Eastern Desert in Egypt. Didymoi was on the carvan road leading from Koptos to Berenkie located on the Red Sea Coast. This tunic is one of three damask  fabrics that used damask to weave in a checkerboard pattern. Another such fabric was found in Palmyra, Syria. The piece is noted to be well worn and dated to being thrown out in 81-96 CE. (Cardon ed. Walton Rogers Roman Textile Industry). This tunic fragment shows that damask was being woven well before the Sasanid Period, it's sister textile found in Syria shows that damask weaving was known to Sasanid weavers well before the 7th C. The ground weave of this textile is a 3/1 brocken twill, which informed by choice of 3/1 brocken twill for my own damask woven textile.

The Syrian Damask

I studied the Syrian Damask fabric on one of my trips to the Clothworkers Centre, London. This fragment measured 10" tall by 5" wide. I estimated the sett at 40 epi, the same sett used for this textile. The Syrian Damask is also in purple. This piece is woven with the pattern in warp faced satin and the background in the weft faced sateen. Though the textiles are reversible, so either side can be used as the face. It is common to weave the cloth with the satin pattern side up, as this is facilitated by pulling the cords for each pattern block, rather than pulling the cords for the background blocks.


The lotus motif appears in a more abstract form in one of the Antinoe Samitum silks (held at Le Musee Historique des Tissus in Lyon. The coat itself was found in Egypt but is widely accepted as an import from Sasanid Persia. I noticed in my Here be Wyverns book that the central portion of a larger lotus (from a 16th C carpet) was a slightly more detailed version of the lotus and shares some common elements. As the 8th C Damask I studied at the Clothworkers entre has far more complex designs, I felt it acceptable to go with the more elaborate lotus motif.

Yarn calculations from Weavolution's calculator


Warp length is 113 inches (3.1 yards)

Length to weave each article is:
43 inches (under tension)
40 inches (relaxed)

Width in reed is: 43.2 inches
Number of warp ends: 1571

Total Warp Required: 4870.1 yards (3.8 ozs.) 

Total Weft required is 1936.0 yards (1.5 ozs)
Weft Calculations

Cowl: 30" 2/12 Gemstone Silk 

Total Weft required is 500.0 yards (2.9 ozs)

Short Sasanid robe 3 yards 2/12

Total Weft required is 1950.0 yards (11.1 ozs)

Sasanid wrap: 126" 2/12

Total Weft required is 2100.0 yards (12.0 ozs)

Warp and Weft
30/2 Silk Patrician Warp and Black Weft
Weave Structure
Portfolio Images
Me wearing a purple damask cowl with black lotus and rise motifs
Cover Image
Me wearing a purple damask cowl with black lotus and rise motifs

Royal Artisan Collar Liner

Submitted by Jahanara on Sat, 07/31/2021 - 07:56

I am making this to line the Drachenwald Royal Artisan Collar, so it can be pinned to costumes and so as not to chafe if worn next to the skin.This is based on a piece of damask I studied at the Clothworker's Centre London. I have simpliefied the design of this piece.The original is actually woven in samite (compound weft faced twill), but the design motif is quite similar to those used in damask. The original piece is dated to 600-900 AD and attributed to Byzantine or Egyptian weavers.

I studied the piece at the Clothworkers Centre in April 2015. When I decided to weave a backing for the Royal Artisan collar, I thought something of a simlarly simple design would suffice for a backing and used the same interlocking diamond motif, but replace the tresfoil in the center with a solid diamond. I also decided on solid lines to form the overall interlocking diamonds. These motifs carry throughout cloth and damask weaving until the modern day.
4" wide

Picks Per Inch
Weave Structure
Portfolio Images
A grey white silk warp with small diamond motifs
Cover Image
A grey white silk warp with small diamond motifs