Felt makers begin with raw animal fleece, which has a natural tendency to mat when wetted and agitated. The reason fleece mats, making it easy to manipulate, is that each strand is composed of overlapping microscopic scales. Felt is made in many regions of the world. It is of particular importance to the nomadic people of Central Asia who roam continuously in search of pasture. Kazakh and Uzbek people make it in great quantities for their yurts, or dwelling tents, as well as for rugs and bags.
Where was this textile created?
Asia: Central Asia, Afghanistan, Northern Afghanistan; Kazakh or Uzbek people
1950 - 1970
Felted sheep wool
300 cm x 179 cm
From the Opekar/Webster Collection
T94.2204 Textile Museum of Canada
To create a felt rug like this, craftswomen make two thin sheets of contrasting colours, such as red and blue. They lay one sheet on top of the other and cut a design from the two felts. The two felts are separated and the pieces rearranged to form positive and negative designs, with red motifs on blue backgrounds, and blue on red.
Bark cloth or tapa, made in the Pacific Islands and other tropical regions, is another textile that, like felt, is made without threads or typical interlaced structures. Fibres from the inner bark of the paper mulberry and other trees are pounded into natural non-woven fabrics that are painted or printed with designs and used for loincloths, skirts and draperies.
Test your knowledge of textiles and discover something new. You have four adventures to choose from.