Women's Work, The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times.The priest John Ball made a contribution in the form of a couplet couplet
Two successive lines of verse. A couplet is marked usually by rhythmic correspondence, rhyme, or the inclusion of a self-contained utterance. Couplets may be independent poems, but they usually function as parts of other verse forms, such as the Shakespearean sonnet, to Wat Tyler's 1381 peasant revolt Peasant, Peasants' or Popular is variously paired with Revolt, Uprising and War and may refer to (sorted chronologically):
When Adam delved and Eve span, Who then was the gentleman?
Archaeologists worked out more than a century ago that the human species did not delve, that is, plow, for the great majority of its time on this planet, but this work was almost certainly done by males, as it still is in surviving peasant cultures. That's because it is not compatible with attending to the needs of small children.
In Women's Work, Elizabeth Wayland Barber proves with some elegance that women were spinning many millennia before men were plowing, and that much of the history of this activity and of the women who did it is recoverable with tools now available.
Cloth generally does not survive the ravages rav·age
v. rav·aged, rav·ag·ing, rav·ages
1. To bring heavy destruction on; devastate: A tornado ravaged the town.
2. of time, as anyone can easily tell by looking at museum exhibits of Nineteenth Century clothing side-by-side with restored replicas.
Bone needles, however, survive, as do beads of shell and other materials which were, obviously, once arranged on strings. Barber has examined a small Gravettian "Venus" figure carved from bone more than 20,000 years ago, found near the area and the time of the famous Lascaux cave paintings. The figure wears a string skirt.
Barber, with the practiced eye of an experienced cloth-maker, notices that the frayed ends of the strings prove it's definitely made of twisted fibers, not hide or animal sinews. The skirt, which hangs only from a hip band and only from the buttocks buttocks /but·tocks/ (but´oks) the two fleshy prominences formed by the gluteal muscles on the lower part of the back. , is obviously not designed to protect anyone from cold. Like much clothing worn today, it seems designed to proclaim the status and condition of the wearer. Barber's supposition, supported by sound logic and common sense, is that it advises of a woman's availability for childbearing.
Textiles are a byproduct by·prod·uct or by-prod·uct
1. Something produced in the making of something else.
2. A secondary result; a side effect.
Noun 1. of the greatest revolution in human history, the one that began in Western Asia about 10,000 years ago and has been replicated in other places since. This revolution turned humans from food gatherers to food producers and began a race between expanding population and finite resources--a race whose outcome is still in doubt. The increased food supply was balanced for a long time by the increased rate of death from disease caused by humans' living in relatively confined spaces for relatively long periods.
Barber postulates that these conditions resulted in more frequent pregnancies and, simultaneously, more time for developing new spinning and weaving techniques. Like food processing Food processing is the set of methods and techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food for consumption by humans or animals. The food processing industry utilises these processes. , pottery-making before the invention of the wheel, and going to and from the well, spinning and weaving became courtyard activities in which all the women of the village could participate while keeping an eye on the children. The development of really fine skills and complex and beautiful patterns in such gatherings seems remarkable only to those who have never worked in this fashion.
Such work has seldom been recorded in written form, nor has it been considered of much importance by those whose job it is to record things, who have been taught since long before Plato to despise those who make things with their hands--especially if they are slaves or women or both, as cloth-makers commonly were in most early civilizations.
Fortunately, high-born women were also busy at their looms, and Barber makes some guesses that Andromache, Helen, and Penelope were probably weaving the kinds of story cloths that conveyed the same sorts of information about male heroism that Norman women embroidered em·broi·der
v. em·broi·dered, em·broi·der·ing, em·broi·ders
1. To ornament with needlework: embroider a pillow cover.
2. into the Bayeux Tapestry Bayeux tapestry. This so-called tapestry is in fact an embroidery that chronicles the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. It is a long, narrow strip of coarse linen, 230 ft by 20 in. and that Sioux women a century ago painted on tepees. Also, cloth-making in religious representations was mystically associated with childbearing, since both seemed to involve the miracle of creating something apparently out of nothing. Barber has some witty and cogent notions of what the Venus de Milo Venus de Milo
armless statue of pulchritudinous goddess. [Gk. Art: Brewer Dictionary, 1126]
See : Beauty, Feminine
Venus de Milo
classic sculpture, discovered in 1820 with arms missing. [Gk. might have been doing when she had arms. Occasionally, as in a linen shirt of the First Dynasty of Egypt The First dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with the Second dynasty under the group title, Early Dynastic Period of Egypt. The capital at that time was Thinis. Rulers
Known rulers, in the History of Egypt, for the First Dynasty are as follows: collected by Sir Flinders Petrie Professor Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie FRS (3 June 1853 – 28 July 1942), known as Flinders Petrie, was an English Egyptologist and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology. when scientific archaeology was in its infancy, actual cloth survives and much may be deduced from it.
Barber is ingenious in the way she constructs her book from archaeological evidence, literary sources, myths, and above all, in the application of her own knowledge of weaving practices.
Like Sherlock Holmes, she repeatedly makes brilliant deductions from evidence that previous students have seen but not observed. Her account in the introductory chapter of discovering which was the warp and which the weft while recreating a proto-Celtic pattern is a classic of investigation. The only weakness in the book is that there is not enough of it, that there is insufficient room to cover with more than a comparative glance the contributions of cultures in Africa South of the Sahara, East Asia East Asia
A region of Asia coextensive with the Far East.
East Asian adj. & n. , the Western Hemisphere Western Hemisphere
Part of Earth comprising North and South America and the surrounding waters. Longitudes 20° W and 160° E are often considered its boundaries. , and Oceania, and that she cannot cover the changes in women's work in recent centuries.
Barber is the most careful kind of professional in her gathering and sifting of evidence, and I wish her the greatest success in achieving an endowed en·dow
tr.v. en·dowed, en·dow·ing, en·dows
1. To provide with property, income, or a source of income.
a. chair at a prestigious institution, a continuing stream of grant money, and all sorts of prizes. I mean it as the highest compliment, however, to say that she writes like a gifted amateur, for she has developed a pleasing and evocative style to bring her researches to the wide audience they deserve. The implications of the material in this book to all those who work for justice for workers and women and especially workers who are also women should be obvious. This fruit of her loom is a golden apple indeed.