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While the majority of patterned textiles were woven with a tapestry or ‘flying thread’ structure, figured wool taqueté textiles were also common. Taqueté is a compound weft-faced weave with two warps, main and binding. The surface of the cloth is covered by weft floats which are bound in tabby by the ends of the binding warp. In its simplest form, a ground and pattern weft are required to create a pattern. Additional pattern wefts may be added to increase the number of colors in the design.

A relatively large number of taqueté wool textiles were found at Karanis. The surviving fragments are quite large which suggests that the structure was used for bedcovers and curtains rather than for garments. An interesting feature seen in some of the Karanis taquetés is the coincidental use of loop piles in the weft-faced compound structure.

The figured pattern designs were typically oriented perpendicular to the warp, although large repeats were occasionally turned to weave in a parallel direction. Represented designs included recognizable figures such as animals and plant forms. Abstract geometric patterns were also common. To enlarge the design, the pattern repeat is usually mirrored in a horizontal direction and often in a vertical direction. Designs were frequently composed with a central figure surrounded by a frame.

As shown in the gallery, contrasting colors were chosen in order to make the figured design clearly visible. The typical combination was a dark ground with a light colored pattern weft.

Further reading:

  • Hoskins, N.A. (2016) Taqueté: Past and Present. Download article
  • Hoskins, N.A. (1992 and 2011) Weft-faced Pattern Weaves: Tabby to Taqueté. Seattle.
  • Becker, J. (1987). Pattern and Loom. Copenhagen: Rhodos.