Blue Ribbon

This bibliography is a collection of references to historic Old World weave structures before 1600. Most have gorgeous plates and many have extremely useful information. However, they all lack thread counts, which makes them ineligible for my handweaver's bibliography covering the same period. Materials will be added to this list on an ongoing basis, and it may occasionally be reorganized for greater conceptual clarity.

This document is a work in progress. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained, the author assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies. The definitive version of this work resides at

A Supplementary Handweaver's Bibliography: Additional Sources for Textiles of the Roman Empire, Middle Ages, and Renaissance

Annotations copyright © 2000 Carolyn Priest-Dorman

Works Covering More than One Period

Abegg, Margaret. Apropos Patterns for Embroidery, Lace and Woven Textiles. Riggisberg, Switzerland: Schriften der Abegg-Stiftung, 1998 [1978].

Traces the history of early published textile pattern books in Europe. Lots of close-ups of paintings and textiles that exemplify published patterns. Great for 16th century studies. Well illustrated and footnoted, but no bibliography.

Branting, Agnes, and Lindblom, Andreas. Medieval Embroideries and Textiles in Sweden, 2 vols. Uppsala and Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksells Boktryckerei-A.-B., 1932.

One volume text, one volume plates. Outstanding, exceedingly rare look at a variety of Swedish textiles, including double weaves, imported compound weaves, and a great many types of embroidery. Many plates are detailed enough to permit thread counts, especially on the double-weave pieces.

Geijer, Agnes. A History of Textile Art: A Selective Account, corrected edition. London: Pasold Resaerch Fund in association with Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1982 [1979]. ISBN 0-85667-055-3.

Lots of b/w plates, with strongest emphasis on northern Europe. A very readable, useful book for acquiring the "big picture," although some information is becoming a little dated. Well footnoted, with a big bibliography.

Getty Conservation Institute, The. The Conservation of Tapestries and Embroideries: Proceedings of Meetings at the Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique, Brussels, Belgium, September 21-24, 1987, ed. Kirsten Grimstad. Marina del Rey, Calif.: The J. Paul Getty Trust, 1989. ISBN 0-89236-154-9.

Really spectacular information on some European tapestries.

Ginsburg, Madeleine, ed. The Illustrated History of Textiles. New York/London: Portland House/Studio Editions, Ltd., 1991. ISBN 0-517-05031-5.

Narrative illustrated with lots of photos, from Coptic to late 20th century. Seems aimed at conoisseurs; includes a good chapter on caring for your collection.

King, Monique, and King, Donald. European Textiles in the Keir Collection 400 BC to 1800 AD. London: Faber and Faber, 1990. ISBN 0-571-13371-1.

A catalogue covering Hellenistic Egypt through the 18th century. Heavy on Islamic-influenced textiles, particularly those of Spain. Includes more construction details than many such books. Good glossary.

Lemberg, Mechthild. Textilien. Abegg-Stiftung Bern in Riggisberg, II. Bern: Verlag Paul Haupt, 1973. ISBN 3-25-01361-6 (hardcover), 3-258-01362-4 (paperback).

A small book of 48 plates from the Abegg-Stiftung collection, from Coptic to 18th century European. Includes tapestry, textiles, embroideries, a brocaded tablet-woven band, and several liturgical garments. Includes a list of published literature on each piece.

Lyons Historical Textiles Museum. Lyon, Musée Historique des Tissus. Lyons: Lyons Historical Textiles Museum, 1985. ISBN 4-7661-0362-9.

Lots of delicious plates, mostly of silks, from the Lyons museum collection; they come from Coptic to 20th century, Spanish to Byzantine and Persian contexts.

Thurman, Christa C. Mayer. Textiles in the Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago: The Art Institue of Chicago, 1992. ISBN 0-8109-3856-1.

Coptic to 20th century weaving, tapestry, embroideries, and lace, including a lovely Perugia towel. Some technical details given at the back.

Textiles of the Eastern Mediterranean

Abegg-Stiftung Riggisberg. Islamische Textilkunst des Mittelalters: Atkuelle Probleme. Riggisberger Berichte 5. Riggisberg, Switzerland: Abegg-Stiftung, 1997. ISBN 3-905014-10-6.

A number of stimulating essays, including several on technique. A lengthy section on tiraz.

Bunt, Cyril G.E. Byzantine Fabrics. Leigh-on-Sea: F. Lewis Publishers, Ltd., 1967.

Misleadingly titled: in addition to Byzantine textiles, the plates depict textiles hailing from the lands of Egypt all the way to Persia. But there are lots of them!

Lamm, Carl Johan. Cotton in Mediaeval Textiles of the Near East. Paris: Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1937.

Textiles classified by basic structure; not all are cotton. Includes tabby, tapestry, compound weave, brocaded, tablet-woven, embroidered, knitted, painted, resist-dyed, printed, pile-woven, and tiraz textiles.

Muthesius, Anna. Byzantine Silk Weaving AD 400 to AD 1200, ed. Ewald Kislinger and Johannes Koder. Byzantinische Gewschichtsschreiber, Erganzungsband 4. Vienna: Verlag Fassbaender, 1997. ISBN 3-900538-50-6.

Although it stops short of thread counts, there is an astounding wealth of technical and art-historical information in this book. Exceptionally rich bibliographic sources, also.

Rutschowscaya, Marie-Hélène. Coptic Fabrics, trans. Adam Stephenson et al. Paris: Editions Adam Biro, 1990. ISBN 2-87660-084-6.

The best set of plates in any one book on the subject. The author is the curator of the Department of Egyptian Antiquities at the Louve, where a world-class collection of these textiles is housed.

Seagroatt, Margaret. Coptic Weaves: Notes on the collection of Coptic Textiles in the City of Liverpool Museums. Liverpool: City of Liverpool Museums, 1965.

Catalogue of a portion of the collection. The text relies overmuch on the work of Pfister, but there are some very good structural drawings of the various types of weaves. Plates of tapestry and inlay work, including one or two truly unusual pieces. No compound weaves.

Stauffer, Annemarie. Textiles of Late Antiquity. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. ISBN 0-87099-768-8.

Catalogue from an exhibition of 61 pieces, mostly tapestry-woven but also compound weaves, weft pile weaves, sprang, embroidery, and leatherwork. Also an excellent, well-sourced essay.

Thomas, Thelma K., and Harding, Deborah G. Textiles from Medieval Egypt, A.D. 300-1300. Pittsburgh: The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 1990. ISBN 0-911239- 20-0.

B/w photos of selected portions from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's collection, mostly tapestry woven but with a few other interesting pieces as well. Most pieces, alas, are "provenience unknown."

Volbach, W. Fritz. Early Decorative Textiles, trans. Yuri Gabriel. Feltham, England: Paul Hamlyn, 1969.

Plates of 71 tapestry and compound weaves from Coptic and other eastern Mediterranean contexts. Dates range from third to eleventh centuries. Some interesting terminology problems (e.g., "slashed silk" rather than the more common "incised twill"), probably due to having been translated from the Italian.

Other [to be reclassified later]

Baker, Patricia L. Islamic Textiles. London: British Museum Press, 1995. ISBN 0-7141-2522-9.

Rich array of unusual plates arrayed in historical sequence. Informative text; occasional technical details given, usually in captions. Bibliography is helpfully arranged in chapter order.

Barnes, Ruth. Indian Block-Printed Cotton Fragments in the Kelsey Museum, the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993.

Plates (some color), catalogue entries, and technical discussion of 58 medieval period textiles imported into Egypt from western India.

Bayerisches Nationalmuseum. Sakrale Gewänder des Mittelalters: Ausstellung im Bayerischen Nationalmuseum Munchen, 8. Juli bis 25. September 1955. Sigrid Müller- Christensen, ed. Munchen: Hirmer, 1955.

Ecclesiastical garments, mostly silks. Includes accessories such as shoes, gloves, and miters. Several interesting bandweaves.

Geijer, Agnes. "The Textile Finds from Birka." Acta Archaeologica 50 (1980), pp. 209-222.

Another condensation of her Birka III book, less polished but, in some cases, more informative than the version in Harte and Ponting. Very good plates and line drawings.

Gómez-Moreno, Manuel. El Panteon Real de las Huelgas de Burgos. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Instituto Diego Velázquez, 1946.

Textiles from medieval Spanish royal tombs dating back as far as the twelfth century. Includes clothing, accessories, palls, etc., made from a number of fibers. Lots of b/w plates, some structural diagrams.

Herrero Carretero, Concha. Museu de Telas Medievales: Monasteria de Santa María la Real de Huelgas. Madrid: Patrimonio Nacional, 1988. ISBN 84-7120- 127-5.

Scrumptious photos of some of the Huelgas de Burgos textiles (see Gómez- Moreno) after their conservation in the mid-1980s. No helpful technical details, just a better view than most.

May, Florence Lewis. Silk Textiles of Spain, Eighth to Fifteenth Century. New York: The Hispanic Society of America, 1957.

A mostly art-historical survey of the history of silk production in Spain.

Ortiz, Antonio Domínguez; Herrero Carretero, Concha; and Godoy, José A. Resplendence of the Spanish Monarchy: Renaissance Tapestries and Armor from the Patrimonio Nacional. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991.

A section on eleven 16th century Flemish and Italian tapestries.

Sencer, Yvette Jayson. "Threads of History." Fashion Institute of Technology Review, vol. 2, no. 1 (October 1985), pp. 5-10.

Explanation of an early medieval pile woven relic, the "Mantle of St. Brigid."

Wild, John Peter. Textiles in Archaeology. Shire Archaeology 56. Aylesbury, UK: Shire Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-85263-931-7.

Concise, informative, affordable introduction to the issues of early textile manufacture in north Europe, from fiber to finishing. Includes non-woven techniques such as sprang, netting, and nålebinding.

Useful Periodicals

This page was created on 31 March 2000 and last updated on 10 May 2000.

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