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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Cloth strips and history
Author:Johnson, MarionISNI
Periodical:West African Journal of Archaeology
Geographic term:West Africa
Abstract:The origins of the West African loom and narrow strip weaving are obscure; attempts have been made to trace it back to the pit looms of the central and eastern Sudan, Arabia and ultimately India, and to relate it to weaving from sites in Syria of the first centuries AD. This kind of problem could, ideally, be solved by archaeological evidence. Unfortunately West African looms are made of materials that are unlikely to survive; and of the cotton industry only the spindle whorl is likely to be preserved. A survey of dateable finds could indicate whether cotton yarn was first spun in the far west of West Africa or on the eastern side. It could also perhaps suggest whether cotton - or wool-spinning - the latter requiring much heavier whorls - was earlier in West Africa. Cotton weaving on a considerable scale is attested in a later eleventh century literary source; and it would be interesting to know whether spindle whorls were present before the intense islamisation of the tenth and eleventh centuries, and from which direction they appear to arrive. Fig., ref.