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Ancient textiles
By Alfred from San Francisco

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About this textile:

It is Italian in origin, dated approximately 1610-1630, though I don't know where it was woven. It was found in Italy by the person I purchased it from, and formed part of a chasuble which had never been sewn together. The pieces of the chasuble were still pinned together with pins, in preparation for the sewing, and the pins were also very old. We think that it was pinned together of scraps of this fabulous purple-and-gold cloth, and that the people who were going to sew it into a chasuble didn't do the work, and then it stayed in a box for more than three hundred years. Hidden from light and never worn, the colors stayed fresh. It is in very good condition. I contacted people from a New York museum, who came to look at the fabric. They explained that such a fabric would have been donated to the Church by a noble family, but since the fabric would have been very expensive, that the family donated only the cut portions of the cloth after their dressmaking was done, and so the Church received many small pieces of this wonderful cloth instead of large, whole pieces. This was perhaps the reason it was pinned together of many small pieces to form a chasuble. One of the images is a magnification of the surface of the fabric. The 'fils d'or', when seen in magnification, actually seems perhaps to be 'fils d'argent' which has been wrapped around a core of yellow silk; the metal parts of the thread have become grey in color, which I have not seen in some of my Mongol fabrics where the gold thread is still bright after almost a thousand years. What do you think? I cannot analyze the weave. Not until I learn more! :) I don't know what to call this, perhaps a brocatelle? The metal threads are woven across the full width of the cloth, instead of just the area of the design as would be seen in a brocade. The warp and the weft are both heavy purple silk, and the pattern-thread is for the weft only. On the front of the fabric the weave of the purple threads is a warp satin. Where the pattern-threads are bright yellow the metal substrate has disintegrated.