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ARCHAEOLOGY AND

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 449 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ARCHAEOLOGY AND ART The archaeology of shuttle-weaving shows that for ages the use of a loom for weaving plain, as distinct from ornamental or figured textiles, whether of fibres or of spun threads, has been practically universal, whilst the essential points of its construction have been almost uniform in character. An early stage in its development, anterior probably to that when the spinning of threads had been invented, is represented by the loom or frame (see fig. 29) used by a native of Sarawak to make a textile with shreds of grass. As will be seen, the shreds of grass for the warp are divided into groups by a flat sword-shaped implement which serves as the batten (Latin spatha). The shuttle is passed above it, leaving a weft of grass in between the warp; the batten is then moved upwards and compresses the weft into the warp; this method of pressing the weft upwards was usually employed by Egyptian and Greek weavers for their linen textiles of beautiful quality. Fig. 30 gives us an Indian Hill tribesman weaving with spun threads; but here we find the loom fitted with rudely constructed headles, by which the weaver lifts and lowers alternate ranks of warp threads so that he may throw his shuttle-carried weft across and between them. Besides the headles there is a hanging reed or comb, and between the reeds of it the warp threads are passed and fastened to a roller or cylinder. After throwing his shuttle once or twice backwards and forwards, the weaver pulls the comb towards himself, thereby pressing his weft and warp together, thus making the textile which he gradually winds from time to time on to the roller. This advance in the construction of the loom is also virtually of undateable age; and except for more substantial construction, there is little difference in main principles between it and the medieval loom of fig. 31. With such looms, and by arranging coloured warp threads in a given order and then weaving into them coloured shuttle or weft threads, simple textiles with stripes and chequer patterns FIG. 31.-Medieval Loom, from a Cut could be, and were, by Jost Amman; middle of the 16th produced; but textiles century. of complex patterns and textures necessitated the more complicated apparatus that belongs to a later stage in the evolution of the loom. Fig. 32 is from a Chinese drawing, illustrating the description given in a Chinese book published in 1210 on the art of weaving intricate designs. The traditions and records of such figured weavings are far older than the date of this book. As spun silken threads were brought into use, so the development of looms with increasing numbers of headles and other mechanical facilities for this sort of weaving seems to have started. But as far back as 2690 B.C. the Chinese were the only cultivators of silk,1 the delicacy and fineness of which must have postulated possibilities in ~\111181111' ion lllllllillil ~II~i „,''1,~ -,; ~` l t1k~~ II 11', i IT"- 111 ll :Ali ,A' hljts _ -sees {I yI\~~~f f;::& ~ 7I .~j t,t weaving far beyond those of looms in which grasses, wools and flax were used. It therefore is probably correct to credit the Chinese with being the earlier inventors of looms for weaving figured silks, which in course of time other nations (acquainted only with wool and flax textiles) saw with wonder. At the comparatively modern period of 300 B.C. Chinese dexterity in fine-figured weaving had become matured and was apparently in advance of any other elsewhere. Designs were being woven by the Chinese of the earlier Han Dynasty 206 B.C. as elaborate almost 1 E. Pariset, Histoire de la sale (Paris, 1862). From Roth's Natives of Sarawak, by permission of Truslove and Hanson. as those of the present day, with dragons, phoenixes, mystical bird forms, flowers and fruits.' At that time even Egypt, Assyria or Babylonia, Greece and Rome, seem to have been only learning of the fact that there was such a material as silk.' Their shuttle-weaving had been and was then concerned with spun wool and flax and possibly some cotton, whilst the ornamentation of their textiles, although sparkling on occasion with golden threads, was done apparently not by shuttle-weaving but by either embroidery or a sort of compromise between darning and weaving from which tapestry weaving descended (see TAPESTRY). The range of their colours was limited, reds, purples and yellows being the chief ; and their shuttle-weaving was principally concerned with plain stuffs, and in a much smaller degree with striped, spotted and chequered fabrics. Remains of these, whether made by Egyptians thousands of years B.c., by Scandinavians of the early Bronze Age, by lake dwellers, by Aztecs or Peruvians long before the Spanish Conquest, display little if any technical difference when compared with those woven by nomads in Asia, hill tribes in India and natives in Central Africa and islands of the Pacific. Such ornamental effect as is seen in them depends upon the repetition of stripes or very simple crossing forms, still this principle of repetition is a prominent factor in more intricate designs which are shuttle-woven in broad looms and lengths of stuff. The world's apparent indebtedness to the Chinese for knowledge of figured shuttle-weaving leads to some consideration of their early overland commerce westwards. About 200 B.C. during the Han Dynasty Chinese trade had extended beyond inner Asia to the confines of the Graeco-Parthian empire, then at its zenith, and the protection of the route by which the Seres (Chinese) sent their merchandise was fully recognized as a matter of importance. Seventy years later the emperor of China sent a certain Chang Kien on a mission to the Indo-Scythians; and according to his records the people as far west as Bactria (adjacent to the Graeco-Parthian territory) were knowing traders, and amongst other things under-stood the preparation of silk. Chinese weavings had for some time been coming into Persia, and doubtless instigated the more skilled weavers there to adapt their shuttle looms in course of time to the weaving of stuffs with greater variety of effects than had been hitherto obtained by them; and into Persian designs were introduced details taken not only from Chinese textiles, but also from sculptured, embroidered and other ornament of Graeco-Parthian and earlier Babylonian styles. In A.D. 97 Chinese enterprise in still furthering their trade relations with the Far West is at least suggested by the fact that envoys from the emperor of China to Rome actually reached the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, but turned back frightened by the Parthian accounts of the terrors of the sea voyage. Early in the 3rd century A.D. Heliogabalus is reputed to have been amongst the first of the Roman emperors to wear garments entirely of silk (holosericum), which, if figured (as is not unlikely), were probably of Syrian or Persian manufacture. Sidonius Apollinaris (5th century) writes of Persian patterned stuffs,—" Bring forth brilliant cushions and stuffs on which, produced by a miracle of art, we behold the fierce Parthian with his head turned back on a prancing steed; now escaping, now returning to hurl his spear, by turns fleeing from and putting to flight wild animals whom he pursues "—a description quite appropriate to such silk weaving as that in fig. 33.. A number of kindred pieces have been recovered of late years from Egyptian burial-places of the Roman period. The Persians of the Sassanian dynasty (3rd to 7th century) traded in silks with Romans and Byzantines; King Chosroes (about 570) encouraged the trade, and ornamental weaving seems to have been an industry of some standing at Bagdad and other towns north, east and south, e.g. Hamadan, Kazvin Kashan, Yezd Persepolis, &c. To the north-west of Persia and north of Syria lay the Byzantine region of Anatolia (now Asia Minor), some towns in which became noted for their fine weavings: the mass of the population there was well off in the 6th century, the country highly cultivated and prosperous, and justice fairly administered,' thus affording favourable conditions for an industry like ornamental weaving, which had been and was prospering in neighbouring Syrian districts. 1 See Chinese Art, by Stephen W. Bushell, C.M.G., B.Sc., M.D. (London, 1906), vol. ii. p. 95. 2 Aristotle describes the silk-worm and its cocoon. Virgil-Martial and late Roman writers (including Pliny) throw scarcely more light upon the use of silken stuffs than that they were of rarity and greatly prized by opulent Romans. Propertius (19 B.c.) writes of " silken, garments of varied tissue," and of Cynthia that " perchance she glistens in Arabian Silk." 3 W. M. Ramsay, Studies in the History and Art of the Roman Empire (University of Aberdeen, 19e6).
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