Patterns from Textile Remains


Late antique texts describe how a buyer might hand over a picture or pictures to a weaver so that a garment might be designed in direct response to a specific visual idea. It seems, too, that weavers had collections of patterns available for their clientele. The recent discovery of many such incomplete patterns (and no complete examples) suggests that designs were improvised on a few selected motifs. Analysis of the full range of known patterns has provided sufficient information to recreate how late antique artisans generated designs from minimal visual clues.

This textile inspired the designs shown on the right:


Even when very little is left of an ornamental motif, it is still possible to imagine what the essential design components may have been. For example, the illustration at the beginning of this paragraph presents a striped variation on the square patch displayed here:

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