28 June 2015

Two Asymmetrical Pavy Weaves

© Carolyn Priest-Dorman, 2003

A year ago my article “Some More Medieval Linen Weaves” presented a number of multishaft medieval liseré weaves of pavy design. One important design feature common to all these textiles was that the wales of the pattern all lined up and met perfectly. Accordingly, when I was attempting to draft an 8-shaft version of a pavy liseré weave for that article I focused a lot of attention on getting the diagonals to line up perfectly.

Last summer, however, I ran across two historic pavy weaves that are markedly irregular; their float arrangements are not perfect, and the wales do not line up perfectly. Further, the structure of these particular two textiles is not a liseré; it is a gebrochene. That is, it is an “Ms and Ws” structure with twill floats in both warp and weft systems, not just in the weft system as with a pavy liseré.

Middelburg-Nassau-Grimbergen, draft no. 1

One is part of an antependium from Middelburg-Nassau-Grimbergen, now in the Koninklijk Instituut voor het Kunstpatrimonium in Brussels. It dates to the first third of the 16th century. A complete analysis was not available to me, but the drawdown by J. Vynckier (de Jonghe, p. 70) was. The other is a large fragment of linen (Tx 63) in the collection of the Abbey of St. Truiden in Tongeren, Belgium. It was analyzed by Daniël de Jonghe (pp. 270-272), who assigns it a date similar to that of the Middelburg piece. Although the piece is a fragment, the complete width of 33.6 cm survives, including both tabby selvedges. Like most medieval ecclesiastical linens, it is woven with Z-spun singles line linen. The thread count is about 60 ends and 45 picks per inch, and the cloth is bleached.

If the structural analyses by de Jonghe and Vynckier are correct as printed, then the two textiles are curious inversions of one another. Both textiles are identically drawn in, yet their tie-ups are exact opposites. If, however, the structural analysis by Vynckier is drawn using a different convention than that by de Jonghe, then the two textiles may be closely related.

Middelberg-Nassau-Grimbergen draft no. 2

De Jonghe’s textile analysis can be checked against the photo of Tx 63; as always, he represents the warp with black and the weft with white. I was not able to check Vynckier’s analysis against the antependium because I do not currently have access to a photo of the actual textile. But if Vynckier’s drawdown uses white to represent the warp and black the weft, then the two textiles could be woven on the same warp using the same tie-up by simply changing the treadling sequence. Because de Jonghe dates them together due to their commonalities, it’s worth considering that they might be closely related, perhaps from the same production center. Accordingly, I give two different versions of the Middleburg draft, for those who’d like to try weaving them both on one warp without switching tie-ups.

St.-Truiden Tx 63

The draft called “Middleburg 1” is the one I first derived from the drawdown. It assumes the black-warp, white-weft CIETA convention that de Jonghe uses. The “Middleburg 2” draft I based on my hunch that the two textiles are related, and that Vynckier might have represented the textile “backward” from the CIETA convention. Instead, it is predicated on a white-warp, black-weft convention. The draft for Tx 63 is cut down and reworked from that of de Jonghe (p. 272), whose drawup and draft present more than a complete repeat and are tied up differently than I would do it.


Daniël de Jonghe, “De Textieldocumenten uit Sint-Truiden: Technologische Bevindingen,” pp. 63-105 in Stof uit de Kist: De middeleeuwse textileschat uit de abdij van Sint-Truiden. Leuven, Belgium: Uitgeverij Peeters, 1991.

Daniël de Jonghe, catalogue entry for Tx 63, pp. 270-272 in Stof uit de Kist: De middeleeuwse textileschat uit de abdij van Sint-Truiden. Leuven, Belgium:  Uitgeverij Peeters, 1991.

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This article was originally published in Issue 35 (March 2003) of Medieval Textiles, the newsletter of the medieval textiles study group of Complex Weavers.  The drafts and drawdowns I submitted were created using the freeware drafting program, WinWeave.  Using GIMP, I have turned the original drafts into graphics for republishing here.

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