Nancy Hoskins: Taqueté – Past and Present

By Nancy Aurthur Hoskins, Author and textile artist

Taqueté, a weft-faced compound tabby, is an elaboration of plain weave with many names in the textile literature: weft-faced Summer and Winter weave, weft-faced polychrome Summer and Winter weave (without tabby), weft-faced two-tie unit weave, two-faced weave with pattern in reverse, double-faced weave, and Coptic weave.

There are many variations in this basic threading, such as Peter Collingwood’s favored threadings for rug and shaft-switching. In this structure, colors exchange on the obverse and reverse in a bi-color taqueté. Colors blend on the reverse in a tri-color taqueté.

Left: Coptic taqueté fragment found at Fustat, Egypt (c. AD 7th century). Right: Detail view. Warp: z-spun linen; Weft: z-spun wool; Sett: 16 epcm. Author’s collection. Publication: Hoskins, 2002.

The weft-faced compound tabby structure is woven with a unit threading system, a repetitious treadling order, and a double pass of four weft picks to create two or multi-block, bi-color patterns. Taqueté is a compound structure which means that there is more than a single function for the warp and weft:

  • Warp: the unit threading system has binding ends on two shafts that alternate with pattern ends on all other available shafts.
  • Weft: in a bi-color taqueté four weft picks work together in pairs as ‘complements’ to one another in a bi-color taqueté to form each pass (one solid of weft covering warp ends). A color sequence is repeated to form the pattern blocks.

When Rome ruled the western world, Near Eastern and Egyptian weavers wove two and three-color weft-faced patterned taqueté textiles of linen and wool for pillows, coverlets, and clothing – perhaps as early as the second century AD. Taqueté is an interesting and very versatile structure.

Detail from a recreation of a bi-color Coptic taqueté at the Royal Ontario Museum. Publication: Hoskins, 1992/2011.
Detail from a recreation of a bi-color Coptic taqueté at the Royal Ontario Museum. Publication: Hoskins, 1992/2011.
Detail from a recreation of a tri-color Coptic taqueté at the Musée du Louvre. Publication: Hoskins, 1992/2011.
Detail from a recreation of a tri-color Coptic taqueté at the Musée du Louvre. Publication: Hoskins, 1992/2011.

References:

Hoskins, Nancy Arthur. “The Textiles.” Fustat Finds (Contributing Author) Jere Bacharach, ed. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. 2002.

Hoskins, Nancy Arthur. Weft-faced Pattern Weaves: Tabby to Taqueté. Skein Publications in association with University of Washington Press. Seattle and London: 1992. or Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. Pennslyvania. 2011.