Date of this Version
Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
Warp and weft twining predates loom-woven textiles in the archaeological record. Although it was displaced by other techniques to produce fabric in areas where it is recorded from early times, such as Egypt, this particular approach to building woven structures is still maintained in scattered areas around the world as part of local traditions with deep significance in ritual and festive life, as well in the heavy subsistence work of agricultural and hunting/fishing communities.
In this roundtable, we propose to describe, illustrate and compare warp and weft twined, and tablet woven textiles from Central America, Mexico, Canada, Alaska, China, Myanmar and Central Asia. We will draw on the expertise of scholars who have done ethnographic and archaeological field work in these regions surrounding the Pacific. Furthermore, the participants in the roundtable have experience recreating the various techniques they will discuss, both as textile and basketry artists, and as conservation specialists.
Warp twining is found on the sturdiest tumplines and cinches for pack animals, made with bast fibers, as well as on the finest ribbons for ceremonial use made with silk, inscribed with ritual texts or delicate patterns. This versatility will be a central topic of discussion during the roundtable, along with the flexibility that these techniques (including weft twining) provide for creating curvilinear patterns that allow exquisite script and traditional designs to be transferred from paper to fabric. Disjunct geographical distributions, such as the spotty occurrence of warp twined textiles worldwide, have been conventionally viewed as “relictual” phenomena that bespeak the cultural conservatism of physically or socially isolated peoples. In this roundtable we will take a different approach, looking at these specific techniques as achievements of human ingenuity that may well have been developed independently, and should enrich the repertoire of contemporary textile artists globally.