How Sardianian Weaving Nearly Became a Lost Art

I’m spending the long holiday weekend catching up on reading I’ve bookmarked — and came across this piece for the NYTimes Style Magazine in September by Deborah Needleman.

In case you missed it, too, the article focuses on the weaving tradition of Samugheo (population 3,018), “an unremarkable-looking town that sits snug against breathtaking cliffs and gorges, forests of cork oak and olive trees and fields fragrant in spring with asphodel and poppy.”

Ms. Needleman offers historical context: “All islands are, by definition, isolated, but Sardinia, afloat on the Mediterranean like a puzzle piece gone missing from the coastline of southern France and northern Spain, was more so than most, and for longer. ‘As if here where the world left off’ is how D.H. Lawrence described it in 1921, in his book “Sea and Sardinia.” Having fought a nonstop string of marauders lured by its strategic location — including Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Vandals, Byzantines and Arabs — and having endured long stretches of Roman and Spanish rule, Sardinians moved inland, forming small towns to protect themselves against conquerors and the harsh landscape.“

The challenge described is a familiar one: the profound disconnect between the time and skill required to hand weave a piece and its market value. “But [she] held fast to her manual loom, working in a way unchanged for thousands of years. Why bother? she thought. The pleasure and point of weaving is weaving, not running a machine — even if that decision essentially priced her work out of the market.”

Needleman also reminds us of the gender and economic issues at play: “Suddenly, these women were being paid for work they had always done; it brought a measure of freedom and independence and a sense of self-worth.”

Read more at The New York Times, here.

 A Sardinian woman from around 1910 dressed in decorative clothing native to the island. The patterns and style of dress are specific to each town. Traditional Sardinian weavings are patterned with small raised bumps of thread, called pibiones. Credit United Archives/Carl Simon/Granger

A Sardinian woman from around 1910 dressed in decorative clothing native to the island. The patterns and style of dress are specific to each town. Traditional Sardinian weavings are patterned with small raised bumps of thread, called pibiones. Credit United Archives/Carl Simon/Granger

Lesley RobertsComment