Summary Of Women's Work By Elizabeth Wayland Barber

Great Essays
Taking a Look Into the Past, Understanding it Now
American author Elizabeth Wayland Barber, who is an expert on textiles, wrote the book Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times in 1994, which takes the reader into the world as it was many years ago. In doing so, it enlightens one on how and why the women created textiles and eventually advanced and created other things. Today people know the clothes worn were made and the blankets used were created, but do not know, or care to wonder, how. People never stop to ask how all of the items were made. In reading the enticing Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years, one gained insight not only of the history behind women being the soul of the family, but exactly
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Clare Brown, a student of textile designs, describes wool made with asbestos as “cloth which could be immersed in fire and emerge, not only unburnt, but even cleansed. Such cloth is known to have been woven using fibres from the mineral asbestos”. This is important to Barber’s above statement about the discovery of wool because it correlated to and showed exactly how sustainable and useful wool could be. Upon learning to use wool, textile creations became more exciting and vivid, and simply more beautiful. It is interesting to learn about these things, as the author asked what exactly were the patterns the Minoans liked to create so much then answered with this, “blue heart-spirals set point to point (much like the design typical today on a wrought iron fence) with a red diamond between each pair of double hearts, all on a white ground.” The textiles contained patterns so complicated that one has to assume it took an extremely long time to learn this skill (109). Imagine something so stunning such as this; it can only be described as breathtaking. Wayland Barber did a superb job in this portrayal of a pattern used for a textile. Her description involved imagery that allowed the reader’s mind to envision how this textile would have looked. In Chaper 6, Barber mentioned how humans are social creatures and like to get points across, but said that speaking the same words over and over is tiresome and boring. She explained how “visual symbols” are the best way to make a statement. She added an example of embroidered towels thrown over guests’ shoulders at Croation weddings to represent the groom’s family

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