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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never done..., 15 Sep 2005
By 
delphine "meryllon" (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Women's Work: The First 20, 000 Years - Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times (Paperback)
What is the characteristic essential to make a job "women's work"? It has to be something they can do while caring for children.
Starting from this insight, the author takes us on a fascinating trail through several thousand years of textile history, relating it to her own life and women's lives in general. Among the things that stay with you are the story of the "string skirt" described in Homer, seen on early "Venus" fertility figures, and tried out by the author with surprising results. Or how Danish women used to be trained to weave and started by making their own trousseau -- with the quantities of towels carefully judged to last a lifetime. Or how the author tried to recreate a piece of plaid over 2000 years old and had a sudden insight into how it was woven when she had it on the loom.
This book is a companion piece to Barber's scholarly volume on ancient textiles (also highly recommended for the serious-minded), adding a human and sometimes very personal dimension.
Anyone who has the weaving or spinning bug, loves yarns and textiles or simply wants to know more about the way our ancestresses lived, will find this a satisfying and illuminating read.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Women's Work: the first 20,000 years, 29 Jan 2008
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This review is from: Women's Work: The First 20, 000 Years - Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times (Paperback)
Fascinating! I found this by chance in the library yesterday - it narrates the history of textiles from the very beginning, the invention of spinning and weaving, the reasons why cloth production has been the responsibility of women. I have always been interested in textiles, and this is one of the most useful introductions to the history of textiles I have found.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an accidental find that was just what I was looking for., 18 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Women's Work: The First 20, 000 Years - Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times (Paperback)
I am an obstetrician/gynecologist, who was a hand weaver before going to medical school. I have always enjoyed reading about archeology. I didn't know I was looking for this book until I found it. The fiber arts have always been women's work. How women's production of fiber and fabrics was interwoven with the functioning of different ancient societies is explored in this very readable book. I was especially taken by the idea of the Fates as the midwives waiting for a delivery and spinning thread; and the newborn's fate is the spun thread.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a fascinating view of textiles through time., 1 April 2010
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
At first, I had to get used to the female centric writing however, that is the thrust of this book. Not really. The title says it all "Women, Cloth, and Society in Early times."

With the lack of reading time people have nowadays, I found it necessary sometimes to scan books looking for the individual items that I am interested in or need. However, I found Elizabeth Wayland Barber's writing style and information so intriguing that I could not miss a word.

I purchased this book mainly because I was interested in the history of textiles. I dabble in spinning and weaving having a few different spinning wheels and looms myself. I was surprised and delighted to find that I got more than I paid for. Dr. Barber not only puts the craft in a historical perspective but also gives us a more personal view s she describes her experience such as reconstructing or emulating the early crafts. I also learned quite a bit of the origin of the technical words I used but never thought to read about them. One great plus of this presentation is that no matter what background your are coming from there is always something new to learn even if it is looking at the same thing from a different angle.

An added bonus it does not distract from the original purpose of this book is the insertion of linguistics as word origins parallel crafts and help us understand better, when different things were invented or discovered and where they were invented or discovered. I also own several books on the origin of words because this also intrigues me.

My copy of the book has monochrome diagrams and plates. I hope that one day the book will be published with color plates and diagrams. I found that the reader really needs to study the chart of the Main chronological periods covered in this book is it helps to keep everything in a time line perspective.

On a technical note, I found the footnotes and the resource section helped to go beyond this book in many different directions.

Thank you Elizabeth Wayland Barber for giving me a useful reading time and a new perspective on "Women, Cloth, and Society" not only in Early times but today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a fascinating view of textiles through time., 1 April 2010
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Women's Work: The First 20, 000 Years - Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times (Paperback)
At first, I had to get used to the female centric writing however, that is the thrust of this book. Not really. The title says it all "Women, Cloth, and Society in Early times."

With the lack of reading time people have nowadays, I found it necessary sometimes to scan books looking for the individual items that I am interested in or need. However, I found Elizabeth Wayland Barber's writing style and information so intriguing that I could not miss a word.

I purchased this book mainly because I was interested in the history of textiles. I dabble in spinning and weaving having a few different spinning wheels and looms myself. I was surprised and delighted to find that I got more than I paid for. Dr. Barber not only puts the craft in a historical perspective but also gives us a more personal view s she describes her experience such as reconstructing or emulating the early crafts. I also learned quite a bit of the origin of the technical words I used but never thought to read about them. One great plus of this presentation is that no matter what background your are coming from there is always something new to learn even if it is looking at the same thing from a different angle.

An added bonus it does not distract from the original purpose of this book is the insertion of linguistics as word origins parallel crafts and help us understand better, when different things were invented or discovered and where they were invented or discovered. I also own several books on the origin of words because this also intrigues me.

My copy of the book has monochrome diagrams and plates. I hope that one day the book will be published with color plates and diagrams. I found that the reader really needs to study the chart of the Main chronological periods covered in this book is it helps to keep everything in a time line perspective.

On a technical note, I found the footnotes and the resource section helped to go beyond this book in many different directions.

Thank you Elizabeth Wayland Barber for giving me a useful reading time and a new perspective on "Women, Cloth, and Society" not only in Early times but today.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discovering the origins of weaving, 13 Jun 2010
By 
Mrs. A. Nicol (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Women's Work: The First 20, 000 Years - Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times (Paperback)
As someone who has always loved textile crafts, and been interested in ancient history, folk tales and the development of language, I was enthralled by this book. The author is an archaeologist with a lifelong practical knowledge of weaving, and her search for the origins of this craft, and the ways in which it has impacted on women's lives at different times, is riveting. It is astonishing to read of the sheer volume of weaving undertaken by women in the past and to realise that the industry sometimes operated on a vast scale, with large numbers of women captured in wars being put to work as weavers and spinners. The text is enlivened not only by the author's drawings but by numerous snippets of information about women's lives in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and many other places. From queens to slaves, all women worked at warping, weaving and spinning. The author shows how important their work was to the societies in which they lived. There are stories here of Helen of Troy, of queens who wove sumptuous robes for their lords to give as gifts to other kings; of Mesopotamian traders' wives who engaged in business on their own; of Egyptian women weaving linen so fine it was see-through; of captive slaves introducing their own weaving traditions to alien lands. And the story begins in the Stone Age with a little string skirt, which gradually evolved into the girdle of Aphrodite. A fascinating read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars informative and readable, 17 July 2012
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This review is from: Women's Work: The First 20, 000 Years - Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times (Paperback)
This is one of the most fascinating books I've read for a long time, both informative and readable. Highly recommended for anybody interested in women's history and/or the development of textiles. And, bought on marketplace, economic too!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insights, 14 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Women's Work: The First 20, 000 Years - Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times (Paperback)
I was thoroughly engaged and fascinated by the story of textiles and women's role in their creation. The research methods, using language development, myth and art to track substances too fragile to survive the passage of time were as interesting as the stories they told and I felt the book also went some way to explaining the breadth of appeal textile arts hold for women across the world.The text was accessible without being too populist or condescending to people not from the same academic discipline and added another voice to the validation of recreative research. Actually trying to carry out the tasks undertaken by our ancestors reveals so much.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, fascinating detail, 1 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Women's Work: The First 20, 000 Years - Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times (Paperback)
The other 5 star reviewers have covered all the salient points. Fantastic book. I'm going round recommending it to friends and buying it for presents.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a fascinating view of textiles through time., 11 July 2013
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
At first, I had to get used to the female centric writing however, that is the thrust of this book. Not really. The title says it all "Women, Cloth, and Society in Early times."

With the lack of reading time people have nowadays, I found it necessary sometimes to scan books looking for the individual items that I am interested in or need. However, I found Elizabeth Wayland Barber's writing style and information so intriguing that I could not miss a word.

I purchased this book mainly because I was interested in the history of textiles. I dabble in spinning and weaving having a few different spinning wheels and looms myself. I was surprised and delighted to find that I got more than I paid for. Dr. Barber not only puts the craft in a historical perspective but also gives us a more personal view s she describes her experience such as reconstructing or emulating the early crafts. I also learned quite a bit of the origin of the technical words I used but never thought to read about them. One great plus of this presentation is that no matter what background your are coming from there is always something new to learn even if it is looking at the same thing from a different angle.

An added bonus it does not distract from the original purpose of this book is the insertion of linguistics as word origins parallel crafts and help us understand better, when different things were invented or discovered and where they were invented or discovered. I also own several books on the origin of words because this also intrigues me.

My copy of the book has monochrome diagrams and plates. I hope that one day the book will be published with color plates and diagrams. I found that the reader really needs to study the chart of the Main chronological periods covered in this book is it helps to keep everything in a time line perspective.

On a technical note, I found the footnotes and the resource section helped to go beyond this book in many different directions.

Thank you Elizabeth Wayland Barber for giving me a useful reading time and a new perspective on "Women, Cloth, and Society" not only in Early times but today.
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