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been used for veils, and other articles of female attire, according to the paintings found on the sides of the tombs.
There are several specimens of the open linen, embroidered with a double threaded worsted, exactly like modern Berlin worsted. One of these is interesting.-The pattern represents roses, with four petals, shaped like hearts, arranged in lozenges composed of buds of different colours, which cross the linen obliquely, and thus present the appearance of an embroidered net of many colours. There is another specimen in which we have a double pyramid in the centre of the lozenges, and the diagonal lines forming the pattern, like the centre pieces, made of little squares.
In this pattern there are only green and orange worsteds, in the former we have three kinds of red, two blues, a white and a yellow. In both cases the linen ground appears to have been died nankeen colour.
One specimen is embroidered with a pattern like a shell, which is of different colours. The helix or whirl is in purple worsted, and as the famous colour of Hellas, or the Tyrian dye, was most probably found in this part of the shell, the chances are in favor of the artist using it, for the purpose of making the spiral, from an ordinary association of ideas, or, as Square would have said, a certain fitness or propriety in devoting the colour to that part of an artificial shell, in which it exists in the natural shell.
Worsted of the same colour, which is decidedly purple, was found not worked in, as was the case in the specimen already mentioned, but actually wove into the piece, and the pattern of the weaving changed, so that the colour of the thread is boldly and completely thrown out, forming a triple stripe, through which the weft cannot be seen. This pattern strongly resembles some representations of Persepolitan dresses, and is not very unlike some Arabic manufactures, but is much superior to anything now made in the East. The quality of this piece of linen, like that on which the shell pattern is worked, is so very even both in the number of the threads of warp and weft, in the squareness of the work, and so different from the majority of the other specimens, a suspicion may be entertained that they are not Egyptian, but Asiatic, probably Persian; for the Egyptian perpendicular looms, represented in Wilkinson's and Rosselini's works, could not be used to weave an article of this kind, though they are exactly calculated
to make a fabric with a very loose warp like the duck, &c. and with a comparatively tight weft. In Mexico and Peru,* we find a loom of this kind still in use, and the article manufactured exactly similar to the Egyptian duck. When the warp and weft are of equal or nearly equal tightness, the piece in the loom must be horizontal, and the thread of the weft thrown by a shuttle, and pressed into its place by a reed or comb—two processes which the Egyptians do not appear to have known or practised, though probably common in Asia, where linen and its manufacture appear to have commenced; a supposition strengthened by the fact that flax is still found growing native in the mountain defiles of Mongolia, where it is, with hemp, manufactured into linen and other articles, as mats, ropes, &c.
The finest specimen of linen was found stitched on to the back of that on which the shell was embroidered. Its texture is even, but there is a perceptible difference in the tightness of the warp and weft. It is evidently a part of what we would call the fag end of the piece, having the tassels attached to it, and tied exactly as we find them at the end of a piece of modern Irish linen. There are thicker threads crossing the piece near its end, a plan still in use; but the ancients appear to have adopted the thick lines to prevent the piece tearing lengthwise, and for the purpose of ornament. In two of our specimens, we find twelve of these thick threads crossing the piece, and the tassels tied as usual, but the slipping or unravelling of the weft is prevented by a curious process, performed by tying the threads of the warp together, so that each is secured to the thread at each side of it. This process forms a slight ridge at the end of the piece, and is rather ornamental.
Several specimens of a species of linen have been found with
* I witnessed this form of loom at work both in Barbary and Syria, particularly in Jerusalem, differing from the Egyptian only in the greater breadth of the piece, and in being worked by one person instead of two.
+ This fringe appears to be alluded to in Numbers xv. 38, where the Israelites were directed to make “ fringes in the borders of their garments and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a riband of blue.” I have seen species of mummy-cloth in Egypt corresponding to this description precisely. Such was likely the “hem of the garment" spoken of in the New Testament.
double, though not twisted threads, in both warp and weft. We might apply the epithet diaper to this pattern, though it is not exactly like that fabric, which is now manufactured. This linen resembles matting, and in the finer specimens is really very handsome. It probably wore very well on account of its soft
It is worthy of notice, that the weavers saved themselves exactly one-half their labour, by weaving with a double weft, as the thread had to be inserted only half the number of times. Though there are numerous specimens of this kind of linen, no selvage was found to any of them, so we cannot tell how the second thread was passed. This linen is very flat, and the number of the threads, in warp and weft, in a superficial inch, nearly equal. We
be sure that this manufacture had its specific name, which distinguished it from the other two, which are essentially different. The Indians manufacture a cotton article with double warp and weft; it finds its way to Europe, as a wrapper to fine silk and cotton goods.
A quantity of twine was also found, and used with the greater proportion of our specimens, in bandaging up a half-dozen of · sacred crocodiles, which Mr. Knox took, with his own hands,
out of a catacomb in Egypt, so full of snakes and reptiles, that no Arab could be induced to enter into it. On removing the parcel to the open air, a large snake, of a venomous nature, actually escaped from it; frightening the Arabs so much, that they would not touch the bundle, which, being lapped up in a mat of date leaves and ropes, was boxed up without their scrutiny, and not opened until its arrival in London. The ropes were composed of two yarns, very nicely made, and though very dry, were, in many places, very sound, and capable of lifting a load of upwards of 50 lbs. The ropes formed a weft to a warp of date leaves, which formed a coarse kind of mat, round which the rope was also bound. Underneath the leaves, the envelope was composed of a great number of rags of all kinds of linen, from which our collection was chiefly made. The rags were sewed together so as to make a bandage, which enveloped the six animals, independently of the wrapping which was on each, and which was wound round with thread. The large bandage was secured by a piece of twine, made of ten threads of yarn, in two sets of five each, twisted very slightly together, and forming a very
strong kind of twine-not that probably used for common purposes. The labour of making it must have been enormous, compared with that necessary to spin a piece of common twine out of plain flax, and not out of yarns already spun. It may be here noticed, that all the thick lines or ornamental ribs made on Egyptian linens are composed of the same thread, repeated or doubled, once or oftener, and in this way, they may have been able to produce many pleasing stripes and plaids.
From certain similitudes in the names of the standing or long part of the piece of linen in the Egyptian loom, and a well-known mythological story, it was suspected that this story might have been originally an allegory or riddle, descriptive of the rise and progress of an article of dress made of flax. Some ideagraphic and phonetic hieroglyphs also favoured the supposition, which, however, could not be proved; nor was any evidence of the fact considered extant, when it was found, on opening a piece of mummy cloth, discovered by Dr. Wilde, under the head of a mummy at Sackara, that the threads of the warp of a piece of ancient Egyptian linen, are double; that is, they pass from the tassel end of the piece down to the other end, and turn round the first thread of the warp, which is compounded of five in our example. This compound thread is the radix or root of the piece, its foundation, as it were, and properly, is not woven, for all the threads of the warp pass round and cover it. Though our piece is only a span wide, and has neither of the selvages, it is quite clear that this compound radix thread must have been secured to the loom, as it was stretched from side to side, to take the warp, as it was set in the loom, at the top of which it was arranged, by being passed through a looped cord, which distributed the threads; an operation effectually performed below by the first two or three threads of the warp, when first passed.
The hollowing or bending up of the first thread of an Egyptian piece of linen, is a serious defect in that manufacture ; it decreases rapidly as the piece advances, and a more general strain can be obtained by means of the roller, on which the work may be wound. Another great defect of the linen arises from the great length of the loom, and the looseness of the warp, which is consequently drawn in and crowded at the selvages, which are
generally very good. The picture of the loom in Wilkinson's book, representing females weaving, is sufficiently explicit; and though it only presents them passing the weft, by means of a long ruler, with a bent end; yet, we may, from an attentive examination of the linen, imagine the whole process from the beginning, when the yarn is in one or more balls, up to the time when it is cut out of the loom, a perfect piece of linen, with one tassel. We may even imagine a thrifty spinster of old, cutting or separating her thread for the first time, at the moment the piece is finished; under such circumstances, the piece would exhibit no knots, and be nearly faultless, and, beyond a doubt, must have been considered worthy of being constituted the standard of beauty, industry, economy, and perseverance, worthy of Venus, Vesta, and Minerva, &c.
Many curious speculations concerning these personages, present themselves; but here they would be out of place. We cannot conclude these remarks on Egyptian weaving without taking some notice of their spinning process.
On several ancient Greek vases, we find representations of women spinning flax, exactly by the same process still practised in Spain, Madeira, and elsewhere, and which was common in Ireland, before the introduction of the spinning wheel.*
The instrument consisted of a spindle, with a round disk attached to it, which the spinster spins with her finger and thumb, allowing the instrument to escape into the air, when it continued spinning for a certain time, twisting the fibres of flax together, supplied by the moistened fingers of the other hand, from the rock, which consisted of a pole, on the top of which was a slight frame for securing the flax. The Greeks and Romans have left us many designs representing this process, which appear to have been common to all long-haired people; yet, no representation of an Egyptian woman spinning in this way has been published; on the contrary, the pictures published by Rossellini represent women twisting and doubling a thread already spun, and with
* While in Algiers, my attention was often attracted to a spindle of this description hanging down by the sides of the houses, and twisting rapidly. On looking up, I observed some of the female Moors on the housetop, spinning as my friend describes. And in that country, among the Kabyles, the loom is still the same as it was in ancient Egypt,