Felt is a non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers. While some types of felt are very soft, some are tough enough to form construction materials. Felt can be of any color, and made into any shape or size. Felting is one of the oldest textile forms. It is thought to have originated in Asia. There are still some original pieces of felting that were found in central Asia. Some of them are 5000 years old. Felt was used for hats, wall coverings, boots, blankets, yurts and many more things. Wool felt is the earliest known form of textile fabric and played an important part in the life of early man. Throughout central Asia, where some of the oldest felts have been found, Turkman nomads made their tents, clothes and floor coverings from the material and it consequently became a significant part of many religious rituals. Brides were seated on white felt during marriage ceremonies and animals were sacrificed on it. It was also believed to have magical properties - Mongolian horsemen would hang felt figures inside their tents to bring good luck and to ward off evil spirits and a felt mattress would protect the sleeper from dangerous snakes and scorpions. Feltmaking was also illustrated as a technical process in Roman times in the mural paintings of the Fuller's House in Pompeii. Some 30 different types of felt items were found - these included felt rugs, tomb covers, socks and cushions - most are heavily patterned. The largest piece measured 4.5 x 6.5 metres - this is now known as the Pazyryk felt and is housed in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. For thousands of years man has practiced his ingenious methods of turning the fleece of the sheep into warm clothing. Loom and spinning wheel have come to stand as the symbols of these skills. The art of felt making, too, harks back to earliest times. Historical specimens of felt have survived in large numbers and give ample evidence of a degree of inventiveness, aesthetic feeling, and refinement quite unlocked for in the production and use of this material. Caps of thick solid felt from the early Bronze Age are preserved at the National Museum in Copenhagen. These date back some 3500 years and were found in the pre-historic burial mounds of Jutland and North Slesvig. They combine weaving and felting technique as several layers of fabric have been felted into a uniform material by a series of milling treatments. Everything points to felt manufacture having reached an advanced stage of technical excellence in the European west by the beginning of the Christian era. This may be inferred from the specialized workshops for making felt hats and felt gloves that have been discovered in Pompeii. The early settlement of artisans in the Petersberg quarter at Basle, where leather craftsmen are known to have plied their trade in late Roman times, has also yielded a sole of hare fur felt in a good state of preservation. There is an even more impressive and extensive range of material evidence from eastern countries. Scythian graves of the fifth century B.C. known as "kurgans" or barrows and found throughout the Russian steppes from the Carpathians to Mongolia have proved veritable treasure houses of the magnificent craftsmanship which the Scythians, that ancient nation of horsemen, developed in felt. Traces also show of Greek, Persian, and Indian influence. Russian archaeologists have found "kurgans" buried deep under permanent ice and snow. As one would expect, perfect saddle felts, an article still associated with the finest craftsmanship, were also produced. The blue, red, or white saddle blankets discovered in the "second kurgan" at Pasyryk are made of fine, firm but nevertheless resilient felt. Three of these blankets are decorated with an eagle or elk, or with embattled animals, in applique work of coloured felt. Another cloth for placing under the saddle, of thicker but softer felt, also came to light. The floor and the walls...
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