Tuesday 16th July 10.00 - 13.00: TRC workshop by Eric Boudot (Beijing), ‘Taqueté textiles and the Silk Road.’ Location: TRC, Hogewoerd 164.
In China compound silks were traditionally woven with complementary warps forming the polychrome patterns. This weaving technique started during the first half on the first millennium BCE and was used until the seventh c. CE.
The only instances where ancient Chinese patterned silks were decorated by coloured wefts were not compound weaves. They were decorated with supplementary wefts (continuous and/or discontinuous) on a tabby ground. Seven exceptional narrow bands fragments were discovered in Mashan (Hubei Province) and dated by Peng Hao between 340 and 278 BCE. Their structure shows that they definitely cannot be considered as precursors of later taquetés, which appeared around six centuries later in China.
The earliest taquetés discovered in China date from the third to the fourth century CE, they were found in Loulan (Xinjiang Province) by Aurel Stein. These first examples still bear the marks of their western origins, as both warps and wefts are made of short silk fibres and show a strong Z torsion. They are generally supposed to have been woven by local central-Asian weavers in several places located along the Northern Silk Road in actual Xinjiang Province, such as Shule (actual Kashgar), Qiuci (actual Kudja) and Gaochang (near the actual city of Turfan).
At a later period, Chinese weavers adopted the taqueté weaving technique. The complementary wefts, seen on taqueté fragments dating from the fifth and the sixth century CE, are made of continuous silk fibres and show no torsion. This characteristic of the silk threads shows the Chinese origin of these fragments. These fragments were mostly found in two areas: Dulan in Qinghai Province and Astana in Xinjiang Province. Chinese silk taqueté weaving disappeared around the late sixth or early seventh century CE, supplanted by another type of compound weave: the samite.
We will show how the comparison of the structure of several repeated motifs in the height (warp direction) and width (weft direction) of a textile can provide key information about the type of loom and patterning system that was used to weave it.