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Damask

fabrics, period, woven, loom, weaving, art, weavers and production

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DAMASK, a textile fabric, the ground of which is bright and glossy, with vines, flowers andres interwoven. At first it was made only silk, but afterward of linen and woolen. According to the opinion of some, this kind of weaving was derived from the Babylonians; ac cording to others, invented at a later period by the inhabitants of Damascus, from which latter place it is known to have derived its name. The true damasks are of a single color. In modern times the Italians and Dutch first made damask; and Europe was supplied, as late as the 17th century, from Italy alone, chiefly from Genoa. But the French soon imitated it, and now sur pass the Italians. Damask is made in great quantities in Germany, chiefly in Upper Lusatia. Dunfermline is the chief seat of the manufac ture of damask linen in Scotland, and Lisburn and Ardoyne in Ireland.

To trace the origin of the art of weaving, or to ascertain the name of the artisan whose necessities led him to devise the crude appli ances capable of being used in the production of even the very coarsest woven material, would be a hopeless task indeed, separated, as we are, from a period so exceedingly remote by the im penetrable gloom and obscurity which must ever enshroud the events of three or four score cen turies ago.. And yet we are safe in assuming that the ability to produce woven fabrics by means of a loom, no matter how elementary in construction, far antedates all written history, carrying us back to those early ages when the first rays of the sun of progress were faintly discernible above the horizon of time, awaken ing within our humble ancestors the desire for those things, which when obtained served to lighten their toil, and at the same time form part of the foundations of the noble structure, to which successive generations have contrib uted their share, and which we call civilization.

Coming down to a later period, however, we are enabled to gather authentic information re garding the degree of progress made in the art of Trustworthy records dating as far back as B.c. reveal the fact that the weavers of ancientt were far advanced with the production woven fabrics, many ex cellently preserved fragments of fine linen, which have been taken from the mummy cases, of that period, testifying not only to the rever ence with which they regarded the embalmed remains of their illustrious dead, but also to their skill and proficiency as weavers.

In the Bible also we find numerous refer ences to the products of the loom. Job speaks of his days as being swifter than a weaver's shuttle (job vii, 16). We also read that the draperies of the tabernacle and the veil of the temple were woven fabrics, richly embroidered with various colors. These allusions to the art of weaving, and others too numerous to mention, are scattered profusely throughout the pages of the sacred volume; while heathen writers of antiquity frequently allude to weaving as an art which was held in the highest esteem, and which furnished a favorite occupation for people rep resenting every grade of society, from those who dwelt in the marble halls of princes down to the occupants of the most humble dwellings.

Nor was skill in weaving confined to one locality or people; an art so essential to the comfort and welfare of humanity at large must speedily have become the common property of widely separated races; consequently we find that the Babylonish weavers of the year 1000, a.c. were celebrated for the richness 'aad quality • of their woven fabrics; while at the same period the patient Hindu and the stolid Chinese were producing fabrics of the finest texture on looms of the most primitive description.

From this it is obvious that the ancient races were familiar with the principles of fabric con struction and that they were able to produce a considerable variety of elementary weaves by using different varieties and counts of yarn in combination with each other; yet there is noth ing to show that they were acquainted with any form of loom, the mechanism of which made possible the production of intricate floral or ornamental designs, such for example as could easily have been woven on the draw loom of a later period, or by its successor, the highly im proved Jacquard power loom Of the 20th cen tury. This obvious drawback, however, they endeavored to overcome by means similar to those employed by modern manufacturers of textiles, who, in order to meet the demand for i showy and inexpensive fabrics of a certain description, are accustomed to arrange either the warp or filling in the form of a series of stripes of contrasting colors, harmoniously ar ranged together or else by changing the color of both warp and filling at such intervals as a previously devised pattern indicates, are enabled to ,produce an extensive variety of checkered patterns.

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