Roman Burial Pillow 1

This pillow was one of 3 found in a burial at Anitone. The original is now housed at the Musuee Historique des Tissus. The pillows were dated to the 3rd C AD from the unique burial methods used (Becker).Taquete has been found in Roman digs dated to the First Century AD. The First Century textiles are woven using wool warp and weft, whereas Third Century textiles of these structures used silk thread. However, Wild traced these textiles to Syrian workshops  (Wild a, 2003).  Three pillows held in the Gayet Collection in Lyon were found in a Roman-Egyptian cemetery and are woven in taquete (Becker, 1987; Hoskins, 2002). These pillows were found in burials which utilized plaster masks and painted linen, which was not used after the end of the 3rd century AD (Becker, 1987). The pillows have been dated by the unusual burial methods used in the grave, which were not in use after the early 3rd Century AD (Becker,1987). Becker stated that Egyptian weavers were using S-spun wool yarn in this time period. The pillows’ wool threads are all Z-spun (Becker, 1987). It was therefore concluded these pillows were made of cloth woven in Western Asia, most likely Persia (Becker, 1987). However this textile could be listed as Roman, because it was found in a Roman dig and thus Romans had access to this type of cloth. As textiles are easily transported and a known commodity during this era, it has been far easier to determine which textiles a culture had access to than it has been to prove which weave structures were woven in a particular place.This pillow was woven on a yellow and beige background. The design elements included blue leaves on a yellow background, and on the beige background red Greek frets, blue waves, and a green ivy motif (Hoskins, 2002). The sett was estimated to be 14-17 epcm (40 epi), the original pattern was woven using a repeat of twenty-seven pattern ends (Becker, 1987; Hoskins, 1992). Ther textile exhibited more drawn in at the edges than at the middle, which Becker suggested this as evidence the cloth was woven without a reed. I am not so convinced this is evidence that a reed was not in place as draw in always occurs more so at the selvedges and especially in weft faced weaves. This is the main reason many modern weavers use a variety of devices to prevent this from happening in weft faced weaves. Becker (1992) noted this cloth might have been woven on a horizontal loom with pattern rods or on an early drawloom, it is unclear which technology was used as there no date for the existence of the drawloom in Western Asia has been established.The section below shows my sample based on this pillow. My samples was woven using Hoskins adaptation for 14 pattern harnesses on a drawloom. Hoskins pattern was adapted from the pillow finds in Antinoe. This pattern included fretts, waves, and leaves from the pillow finds. After having woven this on a drawloom, I am questioning where a simple taquete would likely have been woven using the heddle rod method. The drawloom was likely used for more complicated patterns, such as those of the Senmurv silk of the Sasanid era. However it is my opinion that patterns using less than 20 pattern shafts do not necessarily warrant the complicated set up of a drawloom. Though most re-enactors may not own a loom suitable for this technique with less than 14 pattern shafts available for taquete and 12 pattern shafts for samitum, the use of heddle rods should be feasible wiht this technique. I would advise anyone wishing to recreate such taquetes to use a 16 shaft table loom, if one is available, or make heddle rods for looms available to the weaver. 

Weave Structure: 

Time Period: 

3rd C AD



Patttern and Loom
The Cambridge History of Western Textiles 2 Volume Boxed Set
Weft-Faced Pattern Weaves: Tabby to Taquete


40 epi


Wool single Z spun


wool z spun


Musee des Tissus

Cloth woven by Jahanara based on this extant textile: 

Taquete Sample 1

Portfolio Image: 

These are my first taquete samples. These samples were woven on my drawloom as part of an experiment to see how weaving taquete would work on a drawloom. There is much debate as to whether there sumptous fabrics were woven on the drawloom or using heddle rods. I will experiment furhter weaving taquete samples on a table loom, which somewhat simulates a hortizontal loom with heddle rods.

These patterns used for this sample come from Tabby to Taquete. These are advanced designs from the later part of the book, these designs were taken from burial pillows found in Egypt.