Thursday, February 22, 2007

Women's Work

What were women doing 20,000 years ago? They were working with cloth – doing many of the things we still do today. Despite our computers, our cars, electricity, indoor plumbing, and shopping malls we enjoy fondling fabric. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to create something out of fabric.

I don’t need to cut and sew. My family won’t go unclothed or shiver in their sleep if I don’t make garments and bed coverings. My house will stay warm if I just turn up the heat. But, when I sit in my rooms I want to look at interesting things around me. Interesting things are not necessities, but I want them around.

The book, Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, is a favorite of mine. I’m re-reading it. If you love cloth you will find a deep connection with ancient women. History isn’t just about wars and conquests; it is also about women’s important industry: fabric.

Barber, a spinner and weaver, approached archaeology with this perspective. Fabric is perishable, but the tools to make cloth are made of more lasting materials. There are spindle whorls and clay loom weights found in digs. Those ancient tools along with small statues and paintings and drawings on walls give clear evidence of the importance of cloth thousands of years ago.

P.S. Yes, I did my walking today and then came in from the drizzle and curled up with this good book.

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Blogger Dianne said...

Thanks for posting that book, Christine. Definitely one to put on my list for next time I'm in the States.

And good on ya for keeping going with the walking, even in the drizzle! We had a thunderstorm here last night the likes of which I've never seen or heard: crashing, booming, roaring, rolling thunder, and brilliant flashes of light. I thought the world was ending! Heaven knows WHAT the cats thought!

8:17 PM  
Blogger Tanya Brown said...

This sounds like a marvelous, toothsome sort of book. Just the sort of thing to curl up with on a rainy day while NOT doing the laundry and dishes.

Thank you for mentioning it; I shall look for it at the library.

And oh, my, the photos of the marvelous deserts that you've been posting have been going straight to my virtual hips!

10:16 PM  
Blogger sophie said...

I'm adding this one to my reading list, too. How fascinating to think about how much our lives have changed, and yet we are still creating with fiber.

Hurray for walking. This morning as I was chipping the ice off my windshield, I actually thought that if the sun stayed out and it warmed up a bit, I might consider a walk in the park after work tonight. Yes, any sign that Spring is on the way is welcome motivation for me.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Jules said...

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. It looks very interesting. I am feeling the need to increase my reading lately.

5:23 AM  

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