Headdress (Tunisia), early 20th century
This wool head wrap from Tunisia is woven in the sprang technique and dyed in two colors with a simple but bold tied-resist technique.
Sprang is a method of loom plaiting that, in its finished form, resembles knitting. The technique was often used before the invention of knitting for the fabrication of bags, gloves, and headcoverings. The vertical elements are fixed at both ends of a frame and pairs of yarns are interlinked, working from the middle, so that mirror image patterns are created simultaneously at the top and bottom of the frame. The work is pushed up and down toward the frame, and small sticks are inserted to prevent the work from unraveling. If the work is beaten as in weaving, the work can become quite dense and warm. Open, lacy effects can also be created. When the fabric is complete and has been secured in the middle with one horizontal element—either a stick or a heavier cord—the rods composing the frame are removed. The technique has been used around the world for widely differing cloths, from lacy open-hair nets to dense woolen hoods. The earliest known examples of the technique are from bronze-age Denmark (ca. 1400 BC), but there are also archaeological finds from pre-Columbian Peru, as well as from Egypt (4th to 7th century).
At the time of proposed acquisition, the museum holds three small fragments of Peruvian sprang “lace” headdresses as well as two 19th-century examples: a sprang sampler from Sweden and a sprang hemp girdle from Canada. The sprang technique is one of our top priority collecting areas. This head wrap would also enhance our North African textile and tie-dyed textile collections.
It is credited
Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.
Its dimensions are
H x W: 187.3 x 18.7 cm (73 3/4 x 7 3/8 in.)
Cite this object as
Headdress (Tunisia), early 20th century; wool; H x W: 187.3 x 18.7 cm (73 3/4 x 7 3/8 in.); Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2007-8-2