Coptic/Sasanian Weaving Notes


Style of weaving: Tapestry Weaving-numerous roundels, bands, and decorative squares held in the V&A Museum (see photos) Many of these extant weavings were found in Egyptian digs, due to the fact that the Egyptian climate is well suited to preserving textiles.  The Sassanid Empire encompassed various parts of Egypt during it's time, Sassanid influence in Coptic weaving can be seen in the designs used in this period, which were subsequently passed on to the Byzantines. Soumak and brocade (California Academy of Sciences) Looms High tension vertical looms were developed in Egypt between 1650-1500 BCE (California Academy of Sciences) According to The California Academy of Sciences (2010) foot powered drawlooms were developed during the Roman era, but no specific date is given. This technology was clearly developed in the East much earlier than in Europe.


Weaving Techniques Brocaded narrow wares- Case N in the Victoria and Albert Textile Study Room holds several brocaded narrow wares. These were likely woven on narrow rigid heddles, which are found in many Roman graves. Hoskins agrees that the Coptic narrow brocades were likely woven on rigid heddles. Samitum- weft faced compound twill Tapestry- Sassanid bands from the V&A Museum- average sett 28/2 EPI, which means on average there are 28 sets of ends per inch, with 2 warps in a set (Hoskins, 2004). Each set is woven as a single thread, but the set can be split when weaving curves, etc. Half-basket weave- Gayet Textile Album- the Green Fabric likely from the Sassanid Riding Coat on display at Le Musee de Tissu in Lyon, Sett: 18 epi warp and weft threads z spun wool, warp undyed wool, weft light blue-green (likely cashmere) (Hoskins, 2004). Tablet Weaving- one extant robe is trimmed with table woven trim. Collingwood also notes that some of the earliest tablets have been found in Persia and date back to the 2nd Millennium B.C. References California Academy of Sciences. (2010). Weaving in Coptic Egypt. Retrieved from Hoskins, N.A. (2004). The Coptic Tapestry Albums & the Archaeologist of Antinoe, Albert Gayet. Skein Publications. University of Washing Press. Seattle and London.