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‘Flying thread’ brocading

Tapestries were the most prominent technique to decorate textiles and were even compared with drawings in their quality and effects. Ancient weavers found an ingenious way to “draw” lines within tapestry using ‘Flying Threads’. Lines of faces, animal fur markings or contour lines were achieved with this technique.

The use of Flying Thread was refined and perfected by ancient weavers so that we find an entire group of decorated textiles that differ from tapestry techniques depicting figural scenes. Often on a purple and purplish dyed woolen background linear and geometric designs were created. Analyses under the microscope proved that these fine spun yarns were not embroidered, but inserted during the weaving process on the loom. Therefore it was necessary to plan motifs and patterns in advance, which illustrates the complexity of the ancient weaving process and the masterwork of ancient weavers.

Further reading:

Verhecken-Lammens, C. (2013) ‘Flying thread’ brocading – A technical approach. In: De Moor, A., Fluck, C. and Linscheid, P. (eds.) Drawing the Threads Together: Textiles and Footwear of the 1st Millennium A.D. from Egypt. Tielt, Belgium, 140-149.