The Ancients


Ancient Egypt 30 century’s from 3100 BC – 30 BC

New Kingdom Egyptian Textiles: Embroidery vs. Weaving, 1982

The New Kingdom Era / Egyptian Empire 1550-1050 BC

Textiles found: 

Earliest Textile Patterning: simple stripe, change of color or texture of yarn.

examples: First Dynasty Pleated skirt from Tarkhan. Fifth Dynasty pharaoh Unas, striped selvedges.  Middle kingdom, inlaid threads used for pin-stripes, fuler weft-fringes, adn white weavers marks


Tomb of Maherpra: time of Tuthmosis II: Fine white linen, with white on white inlaid pattern, heavier then the ground pattern.  Weavers Marks.



King Tutankhamon Tomb:

  • large fine tunic, rows and colums of scattered heiroglyphs inlaided into the weaving.  Possbily incerted with a needle and thread during the weaving process.
  • sewn thread used to complete a woven pattern, heavy thread used in a simple overcast (whipping) stitch for an outline.  Used to close up a slit in the tapestry
  • King Tutankhamons Tunic: wide band of squares containing embroidred scenes.  Scenes look forgien, mesopotamian nad syrian motifs, made by craftsmen working for the forgien market.




Tuthmosis IV Tomb: boarder tapestry of woven lotus flowers is set off from a field of hieroglyphs by a row of overcast stitches in a contrasting color


Tuthmosis III: tapestry woven heiroglphs show both straight slits that when neighboring wefts along agecent warps for some distance without changing.  Zigzag lines occur when pasing neighboring wefts.


textiles: suplementail weft weaving mistaken for embroidery.


A new Reading of Old Egyptian Textiles, 1962

Egyptian Hellenistic   the period Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. 305-30 BC

  • Art: naturalistic. Egyptians “naturalized” themselves: rose from nature and returned to it.  Passed on westwards with the setting sun.  Tombs were in the western desert. In Harmony with animals.
  • Religion: tombs and temples
    • worship of nature: the sun, moon, rivers.
  • Textiles:

Temple Relief

Temple at Kom Ombos, detail

Christian Egypt

  • Coptic Textiles: hard to tell difference between Hellenistic and Coptic textiles.
    • Coptic textiles more colorful; vegetation gets stiff and patterned; illogical; the figures disintegrate, limbs detach and loose coordination.
    • Weavers and clients learn to express the religious doctrine.



Lower Egyptian Costume: Origin, Development and Meaning, 1995


  • composed of 5 accessories  that were worn over a skirt, pleated kilt or tunic.
  • two components
    • belt
    • tail
  • combined with
  • beaded apron: hangs from belt, centered below the buckle is made from closely-aligned strings comprising four type of beads, upper most bead of each strand is a papyrus-flowerScreen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.27.35 AM.png
  • hip drape: begins at the left side of the apron, joins the belt, swings down to mid-thigh.  The dreape sweeps around behind the king over one buttock, ending at the belt along side the tail.  Composed of exagons; diamond pattern.
  • Amulet: illustrating a crouching swallow bearing a sun disk, hangs from the fornt of the hip drape near the lower boarder

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.30.34 AM.png




Greek and Roman clothing: Technical Terms, 1983

Homeric to the end of antiquity men and women worn outer garments, characterized as SINGLE and DOUBLE.

Size, weight and thickness of the garment.  Price suggests it’s for the size of the garment. Color helps to determine what is the meaning of a single or double.

SINGLE = Simple, unadorned.

BASTARD – child not fully legitimate.  Extention of Fabrics produce by weaving two fibers together. ex. Linen and wool. came to mean, counterfeit, adulterated.  Ingredients of inferior quality. Garments inferior quality, or made in imitation of a better quality, as it relates to adorned textiles.  example might be: adornment: fabrics where pattern is not woven or embroidered, but dyed into them.

MALLOW: a trade term for certain fine cotton garments imported from India from at least the third century BC; in post-classical times, perhaps evenr before that, it was expended to fine line ngarments and eventually became limted to these.



  • MANTEL a full cape which extends to the floor and is joined at the neck.


  • HIMATION a mantel or wrap worn over a Chiton or Peplos


  • CHITON Sewn garment worn by men and women held at the shoulders by a Fibula.
    DORIC chiton was simpler and had no sleeves.  IONIC chiton was a wider piece of fabric and was sewn, pinned or buttons all the way to the wrist and gathered or girdled at the wasit.


  • PEPLOS a loose fitting outergarment worn and draped in folds by women.



  • FIBULA decortive pin








  • ABOLLA cloak like garment, worn by wealthy. Esp. used by Stoic Philosphers in Rome
  • PAENULA simple cloak worn by both sexes
  • SAGUM dull red cloak worn by Roman Soliders, and bright scarlet worn by officers
  • LAENA  a purple cloak, distinguished higher rank officers and senators
  • PALLIUM colorful and decorated cloak worn by wealthy



  • VIRILIS made of undyed wool, off white and used for everyday.
  • PRAETEXTA off white featured a wide purple boarder and denoted the wearere was a senator or sometype of magistrate, stripes varied in width and indicated position.
  • PULLA dark grey or borwn and was reservered for periods of mourning.
  • CANDIDA a toga for political candidates, bright white-dyed color symbolized candidates purity and honesty.
  • PICTA dyed purple (color of royality) with elaborate gold embroidery. worn by victorious generals during processions and later by Emperors.


Instita of the Roman Matron’s Costume, 1949

INSTITA: band sewn on a matron’s dress.

  • The boarder or flounce of a Roman lady’s tunic.
  • a bandage, girth
  • strip of embroidery in thread or gold for adornment
  • attached to the garment from the underside
  • not ordinarily visable.

LONGA: reaching far down

GARD / WELT 18th century band used to protect and strengthen the lower edge of a garment.







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