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k is a shuttle, not thrown, but put in with the hand. It had a hook at each end. See woodcut 382, fig. 2.
the circular head was occasionally of gypsum, or composition; some, however, were of a light plaited work, made of rushes, or palm leaves, stained of various colours, and furnished with a loop of the same materials, for securing the twine after it was wound.* Besides the use of the spindle, and form of the loom, we find the two principal purposes, to which flax was applied, represented in the paintings of the tombs: and at Beni Hassan the mode of
*Woodcut 385, fig. 5. Another of wood, fig. 6.
Fig. 1 is a sort of cane split at the top to give it a globular shape.
2 has the head of gypsum.
3 entirely of wood.
4 of plaited or basket work.
5 the loop to put over the twine.
6 a ring of wood for securing the twine.
cultivating the plant, in the same square beds now met with throughout Egypt (much resembling our salt pans), the process of beating the stalks, and making them into ropes, and the manufacture of a piece of cloth, are distinctly pointed out.
It is, however, possible that the part of the picture, where men are represented pouring water from earthen pots, may refer to the process of steeping the stalks of the plant, after they were cut; the square spaces would then indicate the different pits in which they were immersed, containing some less, some more,
Preparing the flax, beating it, and making it into twine and cloth.
a, steps leading up to the top of the pits. bb, where the flax was steeped.
Fig. 1 brings water in earthen pots.
4 and are engaged in beating it with mallets, e e.
7 and 8 striking it, after it is made into yarn, on a stone, g.
cc, the flax taken by fig. 3 to dry, previous to beating. d, the stalks fresh cut.
9 and 10 twisting the yarn into a rope.
11 and 12 show that a piece of cloth, i, has been made of the yarn 13, a superintendent.
water, according to the state in which they were required; and this is rendered more probable by the flight of steps, for ascending to the top of the raised sides of the pits; which would not have been introduced if the level ground were intended.
The steeping, and the subsequent process of beating the stalks with mallets, illustrate the following passage of Pliny upon the same subject: "The stalks themselves are immersed in water, warmed by the heat of the sun, and are kept down by weights placed upon them; for nothing is lighter than flax. The membrane, or rind, becoming loose is a sign of their being sufficiently macerated. They are then taken out, and repeatedly turned over in the sun, until perfectly dried; and afterwards beaten by mallets on stone slabs. That which is nearest the rind is called tow, inferior to the inner fibres, and fit only for the wicks of lamps. It is combed out with iron hooks, until all the rind is removed. The inner part is of a whiter and finer quality. Men are not ashamed to prepare it. . . . After it is made into yarn, it is polished by striking it frequently on a hard stone, moistened with water; and when woven into cloth it is again beaten with clubs, being always improved in proportion as it is beaten."
They also parted and cleansed the fibres of the flax with a sort of comb, probably answering to the iron hooks mentioned by Pliny; two of which, found with some tow at Thebes, are preserved in the Berlin Museum; one having twenty-nine, the other forty-six, teeth. (Woodcut 387.)
The border of some of their cloths consists of long fringes, formed by the projecting threads of the warp, twisted together, and tied at the end in one or more knots, to prevent their unravelling," precisely," as Mr. Thomson observes, "like the silk shawls of the present day;" and specimens of the same borders, in pieces of cloth found in the tombs, may be seen in the British Museum, and other collections.
The sculptures, as well as the cloths which have been discovered, perfectly bear out Herodotus in his statement that they had the custom of leaving a fringe to their pieces of linen, which, when the dresses were made up, formed a border round the legs; but they do not appear to have been universally worn.
2. Part of another of bronze, of later date, found by me at Berenice.
kind of dress he says was called calasiris. When the fringe was wanting, the border was hemmed, which had the same effect of preventing the unravelling of the cloth; and a fringe was sometimes sewed on, as in many of our imitation shawls. The Jews wore a similar kind of fringed dress, and Moses commanded the children of Israel to "make them fringes in the borders of their garments . . and . . . put upon the fringe of the borders a riband of blue." (Numbers xv. 38.)
Besides the process of making cloth, that of smoothing, or calendering, is represented in the paintings; which seems to have been done by means of wooden rods, passed to and fro over the surface; but from the appearance of some of the fine linen found in the tombs, we may conjecture that much greater pressure was sometimes used for this purpose, such as could only be applied by a press, or cylinders of metal.