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Ancient Egyptian and Greek Looms   By: (1855-1925)

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Transcriber's Note

There is a small amount of Greek in this book, which has been transliterated, and is surrounded by signs, like this.

Ancient Egyptian and Greek Looms

BY H. LING ROTH (Keeper).




Halifax, which is situated in the heart of the great textile trade of Lancashire and Yorkshire, has been a home of the woollen manufacture since the earliest time, and it is only meet, therefore, that its museum should possess specimens of the tools used in the early days of spinning, weaving, and cloth making generally. In spite of the considerable progress made towards that end, many typical specimens are still wanting, and, while we have plenty of material for the study of weaving in various parts of the world, we are lacking in everything relating to the industry in Ancient Egypt and Greece. Failing specimens I have had recourse to illustrations, but the Egyptian ones published by Cailliaud, Rosellini, Sir J. G. Wilkinson and Lepsius, contradict each other in many important points, so that those who study them find them practically useless for an understanding of the art as carried on in the Nile lands. Fortunately, last year, Mr. N. de G. Davies, the well known Egyptologist, hearing of my difficulty, very generously placed some of his copies of tomb drawings at my disposal, and with this invaluable help I have been enabled to complete the present paper, and to lay before Halifax students some new details of manufacture bearing upon their staple industry.

H. Ling Roth.

Bankfield Museum, Halifax. April 1913.



In the tomb of Chnem hotep, at Beni Hasan, there is a wall painting of a horizontal loom with two weavers, women, squatting on either side, and at the right in the background is drawn the figure of the taskmaster. There are also figures represented in the act of spinning, etc. For the present we are concerned with the weaving only.

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Horizontal Loom, Tomb of Chnem hotep, from the illustration in Cailliaud's Recherches , etc. Same size as published.]

Of this illustration, there appear to be six reproductions. We have first of all, Fig. 1, that of Fred. Cailliaud ( Recherches sur les Arts et M├ętiers , etc., Paris, 1831) with illustrations of drawings made by himself in the years 1819 to 1822. His publication was followed by Fig. 2, that of Sir J. G. Wilkinson ( Manners and Customs , etc., London, 1837). Mr. John Murray, whose house has published Wilkinson's work from the first edition to the last, informs me that a few of the drawings were made by George Scharf, afterwards Sir George Scharf, Keeper of the National Portrait Gallery, but that most of them seem to have been made by Joseph Bonomi, the well known Egyptologist. Wilkinson's woodcut, although clearly and neatly done, is on a very small scale; nevertheless it admits of a fair comparison with those reproduced on a larger scale.


Figs. 1 & 3. Weaving.

Fig. 2. Loom.

" 3. Putting in the woof, but not by a shuttle thrown with the hand.

" 4. Male Overseer.

" 5. Hackling.

" 6. Twisting the double threads for the warp.

a Weaving. b Chief of Loom. c Facing. d Pulling out.

Fig. 2. Horizontal Loom, Tomb of Chnem hotep, from Sir J. G. Wilkinson's Manners and Customs , London, John Murray, 1878, Vol. I., p. 317. Same size as published.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3. Horizontal Loom, Tomb of Chnem hotep, from the illustration in Rosellini's Monumenti (Monumenti Civili), Plate XLI. Reduced one fifth lineal of size published... Continue reading book >>

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