At its simplest, a loom is a device for putting one set of threads (the warp) under tension so another set of threads (the weft) can interlace with them to make fabric. One benefit of the loom is it can provide a way to separate the warp threads in sequence so the wefts can be interlaced in a regular order. Throughout weaving history, these woven structures have ranged from simple to the highly complex. The most basic weave is the over-one-under-one weave known as tabby, or plain weave.
Where was this textile created?
South America: Western South America, Peru, Puno, Juli; Quechua people
1880 - 1925
100 cm x 58 cm
Gift of Victoria Henry
T04.35.15 Textile Museum of Canada
This lliklla, or woman’s shawl, was woven in two sections on a backstrap loom. It shows the high level of textile-making proficiency that has existed for thousands of years in the Andean regions of South America. The alpaca yarns are finely spun and vividly coloured. The two panels are woven so there are four finished edges, which necessitates weaving up a certain length on the loom, then turning the loom around and weaving from the opposite end. The stripes and complementary warp patterns are rich with meaning for the Andeans. The sense of balance in the stripe patterns relates to the Andean belief that relations between opposites lead to balance in life.
Some of the most complex and beautiful cloth is made on the simplest looms. Complex industrial looms, however, can produce cloth that is not complex at all, but uniform and boring.
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