Women’s Work (DMA Lecture)

Tonight, I went to hear Elizabeth Wayland Barber speak at the Dallas Museum of Art. It was incredible.

EWB is an anthropologist and linguist, best known for her work in ancient textiles. What’s so neat about her work is that she determines ancient techniques by re-creating artifacts herself, by hand (spinning, weaving, sewing, etc.). She brought several pieces with her to the lecture.

The book she’s best known for, Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times, is one of the most fascinating and accessible academic texts I’ve ever read. Her writing style and tone are clear, enthusiastic, and not at all stuffy. The lecture tonight showed that her writing simply reflects her personality; she was an engaging and humorous speaker. She referred to scanty string skirts as decorative garments that barely “cover the waterfront.” 🙂

She spoke primarily about burial sites and mummies found in salt flats in the Taklamakan Desert, which eventually became part of the Silk Road. The mummies were discovered to have light hair, often strawberry blond. This indicates that the mummies were not Chinese as originally suspected, but were Westerners originating from the Mesopotamian area. The fabric remnants found in the graves included some plaid cloth–plaid existed in 1,000 BC in both central Asia and central Europe! …Now I want to KNIT.

Flickr set & slideshow of lecture photos

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3 thoughts on “Women’s Work (DMA Lecture)

    • Starr the geekyartistlibrarian says:

      i just like knitting, history, & great lecturers.
      you of all people should know i couldn’t go completely granola–that would involve giving up the interwebs, flavored coffee creamer, video games, and mascara. sooo not happening. 😉

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