A Damask Tie pocket “Dijzak’ found in Dordrecht (NL) with exiting technological notations.

It is always an unforgettable moment to hear that de woven structure known around the world since the 11/12 century as: damask, damas, damast, damasco , дамас, атлаз  etc. etc. gives wings accompanied by flying ideas in the textile world.
My breath flow away and a waterfall of tears, hardly to stop by my satin 5 linen damask handkerchiefs,,  reading that the Han (China) weavers during the Han Dynasty  (+/- 200 before – 200 afterJ.C.) wove Damask .Newsletter autumn 2012 footnote 1

The oldest damask is the damask diapered in twill 4 warp and weft effect found in Syria know under the name Palmyra Silk. footnote 2 dated around the 2 à 3 centuries A.D.
The oldest figured damasks were also woven in twill 4 and saw the day light much later because the draw loom was still under construction.
The only ( known) exception is the damask twill 6 woven during the T’ang dynastie.( see also Becker and  De Jonghe)

fig 1 private colletion. A replica of a silk damask , 2 colours, woven in twill 4 . from a Byzantine Princesse buried in Danemark . datation +/- 12/13A.D. Century. (Kolding, Danemark)

In September 2012 I was invited by the archaeological department of the town Dordrecht, to review some archaeological textiles excavated in the centre of the town of Dordrecht during the years 1997/1998) among which was a  Tie pocket , a “dijzak”.

The “Tie pocket”, datation +/- 15/16 C. Origin Nothern / Soutern Netherlands ?

Fig; 2 With Courtesy of ‘ Het archeologisch departement van de stad Dordrecht”

Excavation place: Dordrecht (NL)  Statenplein.

The fabric
In generally cloth was expensive and was recycled and recycled. Richer cloth, this half silk fabric for example, is probably recycled to a tie pocket before it was throw away in the slurry pit.  

The  Tie pocket footnote 3
These kinds of pockets were worn by women, wound around the middle, the opening of the pockets oriented near the open side seam of the skirt. The pocket was deep, money and other valuable items were hidden for greedy eyes.

The material and colours
The cloth of the pocket is woven with a silk warp and a linen weft. A half silk  fabric.
The colour of the silk was red , obtains by the Rubia tinctorum, (madder/ meekrap) Cultivated in the  Dutch provinces Zeeland and the Isles of Southern Holland but the Rubia Tictorum was also cultivated in great parts of Europe and in the European part of Turkey (Edrine, ex Andrinople.)

The woven structure
A twill 4 damask
The warp effect is a twill 3/1 and the weft effect is a twill 1/3.

Probably a flowered pattern

Woven on a draw loom equipped with an unknown number of draw cords/draw shafts. The pattern is to invisible that a calculation of the size of the draw harnesses was impossible.

Warp and weft Density
Warp:  40 threads /cm
Weft :  32 threads/cm
There is 20% more warp ends then weft ends.  In the 18th cen. the difference was about 30%. Nowadays the difference can be more then 40 à 50 %
In any case to obtain a nice twill, satin and a lot of other bindings, it is better to have more warp ends then weft ends and on top of it the threads suffering less, and also the weaver, the drawer and the loom. Beating will be more regular and easier

Number of threads in one dent of the read.
It seems ( Digtenboekje still waiting for …) that the whole warp step was put in one dent. 
If using a independent binding warp ( lampas, beiderwand, lampas damassé,etc.) it is better to draw in this thread ( small eye) in the middle ( near the middle) of the warp step.

The tie pocket was found in a “strate”, dated around the 15th/16 th century. We know not very much about silk weavers in the Northern part of the Netherlands. during the 15 Century.  Was it woven in the Southern part ( Acutually Flandre and a part of the Northern part of France) ? Was it woven by the Southern Netherlands weavers emigrated to the Northern part of the country?
Or came it from Italy. France, Spain ?  Textile is trade is given, is travelling, is exchanged etc.

The needing  information to weave it on the draw loom:

To weave these damasks on a draw loom you need besides having the draw loom, a warp decoupure / warp step and thus a pattern indicted this important elements.
A warp step:  is the number of warp threads filled together in the heddle eye of the draw harness.
It is not because the binding, in this case a twill 4, the step had to be divisible by the binding. 2, 4, etc.
 It is not forbidden and it gives neither mistakes if you take a step of 3, 4, 5, 6,7 etc.
On the draw looms the minimum warp step was 2 threads.

A great warp /weft  step gives bigger staircases, pixels, then a small one.
If the draw harness is small and you like to see the pattern it is a better to have a big warp step in the width of the fabric, and a higher weft step in the high of the fabric.
The Netherlands used until the end of the 18th C. 600 cords, Lyon at the end of the same century 800. Philippe De la Salle on his loom “à la grande tire” wove very high patterns obtaines by a technical tric. . This loom can be visited at: “ La Maison du Canut”, Rue d’Ivry, Lyon, Fr.

To see your pattern clearly in the high of the fabric you need also a weft step. In damask that was offend 2 picks and a multiple of 2. That gives de drawer the possibility to hold the selected sample some time more and thus avoiding health problems. 

The use of heddles with a long eye or with a small eye. in the draw harness
and in the shafts.
In the draw harness long eye heddles are used. Or heddles à maillons (ancient French. The “maillon” is the eye of the heddle.) These heddles with several maillons ,came probably in use at the 18th Century to avoid that warp threads in the warp step sticks together, especially in fabrics with a high density . Jean Paulet 1779 tome 7 bis . footnote 4
A high density in the draw loom silk industry means  about t+/- 40 à 50 thr. and more /cm.

The shafts are also filled up with long eye heddles, because the drawer draw up the pattern thread which is treadling down by the weaver.

The number of shafts
The minimum of shafts is 4. A multiple of 4 will be better if you use a higher warp density.  20 threads and more /cm for example.

The  fictitious  technical design.
Warp step 3. 
Weft step 2 and multiples of 2.
The fabric is woven upside down. Take a mirror to see the right side of your “ oeuvre” 

fig. 3

To understand this kind of designs you had to take time. The manner to do it is universal. Europe with the drawer standing on the floor, the Chinese on the top of the loom. Other draw loom weaving nations could have other manners to draw the pattern.  

The French used (since ?) 2 separated shafts harness even for simple weave structures.

 One for the coming up threads, and an other one for the going down threads, and thus  2 tie ups. (See figure 5)
The draw in is more complex, but the tie-up is easy to handle.. If there were problems with the tension of the cords, the weaver rectified  only one cord
Other countries used a loom with “à lève baisse”, a tie up with shafts going up and down.

Grid paper
Grid paper was printed with copperplates especially for the weavers during the 18th century.  footnote 5 The Dutch weaver ( digtenboekje, Haarlem waiting for a publication) designed his grid paper.  and for the threading, the tie-up and the treadling.

On Fig 4. designed by Zhao Feng , a damask in satin 5. he used the Lyonese manner to do it.  for a Chinese draw-loom. ( The drawer is sitting at the top of the loom.
The anonymous weaver of “ Het digtenboekje “ made a written  weave gamut.
that written manner was still in use in during the whole 19the C. and in a big part of the 20th C. minimum until 1930/1940.


Fig. 4 the Lyonese method, used for a Chinese drawloom.

If you can understand this you can understand every thing! If not, send a mail to:
uhlenbeck-textile@wanadoo.fr. or before sending take grid paper and try it out!. The result hd to be a damask satin 5.


The Monochrome Pattern weaves woven around 100/200  A.D. having a tabby ground and a pattern in twill 4 1/3, shown in the authum newsletter 2012,  is not a damask, nor a “damask”
Becker showed on page 39 the hypothetic draw loom for weaving this fabric without mention the trick to do it , Daniel de Jonghe did.
The same trick was used to weave the T’ang Twill damask during the T’Ang dynastie ( 7 Centuries later)  newsletter winter 2010 (11 centuries later) you can admire again and again the early block damast from Palmyre( Syria)

Daniël De Jonghe gave the name : “integration of bindings” to this kind of construction ( A+ B = C .  Tabby +  hopsack= warp twill 4) see also newsleter Tang damasten  winter 2010.
The Chinese patterns for these kind of structure were small and geometrique. The drawharness was small. Was there  a drawharness ? Becker and De Jonghe spooks about selection rods

2 this silk is mentioned in Becker.  Pattern and loom,  page 212. and in the Syllabus  by Daniel de Jonghe (Archeologishe en kunsthistorische weefsels Gent ( Be) 1986.
There is a deep difference between their description and the weaving method. 
Both  speaks about a border in  weft rib John Becker talked about a silk fabric. De Jonghe about  damask  with a broder in rep weave and a figured ( waves) border in  silk and woolin the colours  in the purple and gold , made in a tapestry structure ( Gobelin) .
3 Vanda Voster,(ed. by dr Aileen Ribeiro), Bags and purses, London 1985.with thanks to Gieneke Arnolli.

4  To consult in the Liberay “ Musée de tissus” Lyon, France. 

5  The Laboratory: or, School or Arts. By G. Smith, London 1756 Volume II.  page 45, (…) “ which are squares printed from copper-pleats”
The author Smith compare the so beautiful woven flowers in France with the less beautiful flowers woven in England.
The French sources- Jean Paulet in the “l’Encyclopédie Méthodique Manufactures et Arts”, Tome second 1784 - didn’t mentioned more then 800 cords.


Augusta Uhlenbeck for Laura and Jan diepenbroek damask weavers, winter 2013.

Lauréate, Tokyo 1988
Finaliste Kyoto 1994
Médaille d'argent de la Chambre de Métiers des Yvelines.