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An Early Coptic Hairnet

October 31, 2011

hairnet right side

Side view of the hairnet

My persona wears a cap underneath her ‘isaba, something that absorbs perspiration when it’s hot weather and provides warmth when it’s cold. The information I have found so far is that it is either a netted cap or a fabric one. The fabric ones appear to be substantial, quilted with two or more layers. The netted ones are… problematic.

Finding details about a supposedly common accessory is frustrating. No idea on the shape or construction of something made around 1095 CE. I know that spr­ång was used in hairnets and caps during the Coptic era (maybe 3rd to 8th centuries) in the Near East, and again in the 14th century. No remnants have been found for the between time, but not too much of -anything- was found in graves. Nothing has yet been found to show that -knotted- hairnets were worn in the Near East. So…

First I made a little skullcap in spr­ång, much like I made some of the spr­ångwork pouches. It was great in providing a foundation for my ‘isaba. Then I misplaced it… when I needed it… I decided to make another, but based on extant pieces, just for a little more authenticity.

More research gave me little more than what I had, but what I found was inspiration! Several hairnets combining linen and fine wool, with a browband and drawstring edge! I chose the more gorgeous one and used the other pieces (and information about them) to support my choices in the re-creation.

The linen is white (linen was not dyed) and the wool is black (wool was usually dyed); the pattern is solid with diamonds on the linen and open lace on the wool. The browband, the topknot cord and the drawstring closure was usually in a contrasting color, so I spun some red wool for it. The linen was re-spun to make a thicker cord. The browband was woven on a backstrap loom. The cord is knotted to the browband just like those from the 8th century.

This was a fun project! And now I have a cap for under my ‘isaba.

(Documentation and other photos available upon request; this was entered into the Tir Righ Arts & Sciences Competition of Oct 22/11 and garnered the most points for a single entry. When I get a photo of me wearing it, I’ll post it.)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2011 4:58 pm

    You are involved in so many things, Linda, and I say this with huge admiration, that I sometimes wonder how you find time to do a day-job as well.

    • November 4, 2011 6:07 pm

      Thanks. Have I mentioned my fascination with juggling? That might explain it!

  2. November 14, 2011 12:58 am

    And I haven’t mentioned in your photo at the top of this you have the most wonderful smiling eyes. Speaks volumes about you.

    • November 14, 2011 2:46 am

      Thank-you! I try to let joy have a lot of room in my life; it helps to offset the realities of life’s little, and not so little, pains. {hugs}

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