Water power at Samarakand

The History of Samarkand Paper

From China to Samarkand

In the previous blog about the oriental origin of paper, I mentioned Samarkand and how paper spread from China along the Silk Road.  A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to visit a traditional papermaking workshop in Uzbekistan, where the fabled city of Samarkand is located.  Samarkand was the first city in the medieval Islamic world to manufacture paper and remained associated with the finest quality paper until industrial mills took over in the modern age.  The original Chinese paper was made from silk fibres, but in Samarkand other fibres from recycled rags, hemp and mulberry branches were also introduced into the mix. The use of wood pulp, mostly pine, replaced many of these methods around the world towards the end of the 19th Century to meet the demands of an industrialised society.

Rediscovering a lost craft

Despite Samarkand’s long association with paper the craft of the paper-maker, like so many other traditional crafts around the globe, died out during the 20th century and had to be rediscovered. After a few years of …

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craft

Crafts of the Regency Period

A blog by Felicity Miller…

Crafts were the gentlewoman’s skill of the time

…young ladies can have the patience to be so very accomplished… They all paint tables, cover skreens and net purses.”

As romantic as the crafts of the period sound, basically without Netflix or social media, the ladies of the Regency era were quite bored and had to find something to keep themselves busy until they found a man of good fortune.

In modern times, needlework and painting are hobbies, to be enjoyed during leisure time. Admittedly, all of a gentlewoman’s time in the Austen era was leisure time, but these crafts served many practical purposes as well. Despite not being part of the workforce, women were still expected contribute to the household in their own elegant way. Their mending, production and embellishment of clothing and household goods was seen as their provision for the family, along with the eventual production of sons. Some of the items produced by young ladies were purely decorative, allowing women the chance to exhibit their skills with covered screens or embroidered cushions …

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Viking Fun at the Abbey

Did you meet the Viking?

Did you catch up with the Viking horde during the school holidays?

This year the Abbey Museum hosted its Kids Dig It – Viking Family Fun Week for the January School holiday program.  It was an extremely successful and engaging week of fun and activity in and around the Museum. Over 502 visitors enjoyed a full program which included meeting Norm the Viking and hearing all about his tools and viking equipment and also having a photo with him. There were many craft activities such as making a longboat, helmet, shield, mask, naal binding, lucet weaving, viking embroidery and using the viking iron to be enjoyed.

Viking Games afoot

One of the popular activities was dressing up in viking clothes or playing a viking board game called Hnefatafl (try getting your tongue around that one) which is also know as the “The Kings Table”. Another game enjoyed by parents and kids was the lawn chess-type game called Kubb.

 

Of course – the most popular of all activities was the archery and the archaeological dig.

 

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