Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Liar's Cloth


There is a picture of an African Cloth called Liar's cloth. It is a silk garment made from sewn together strips of cloth. A common weaving method in West Africa is to weave strip cloth on simple portable looms.

This cloth apparently gains it's name due to warp stripes that run along one edge before entering the shed and coming out and running up the other side. It isn't clear exactly how this is done, with the article making reference to the stripes being kept at a different length and tension to the rest of the warp, for whatever reason by use of small waxed balls that hang below the warp. Not sure exactly what's going on here, but I could imagine having a number of warp threads individually weighted and hand manipulated or manipulated by removable heddles, allowing them to be pulled through the shed and come out on the other side.

Very interesting stuff anyway, i have for some time contemplated the possibility of turning warps into wefts and vice versa.

The article mentions that these are among the rarest and most sought after of the Ashante cloths, and it's possible it gains it's name from the "deceitful" behaviour of the warp stripes, though this could be wrong. Another article I found about a similar cloth ( suggests it was so called because it was worn by a cheif or elder when rendering judgement on the truth of a claimant's story in a case of tribal law, but I'm not sure about this, and as it's the cheif's cloth, wouldn't it be disrespectful to call it liar's cloth.

No, I suspect the cloth itself is the one beign deceitful, by the changing nature of it's threads. It's a very interesting subject, and i want to explore more. The fact is that there is very little mention of this cloth on the web. Some digging is called for, and perhaps the ordering of obscure books. Once again, Africa is my inspiration



Meg in Nelson said...

Though this would create a liar's liar's cloth, one could possibly emulate this by adding and subtracting supplementary warp?

Anonymous said...

If it's of interest, Claude Delmas wrote about reproducing Liar's Cloth in the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers not that long ago. The article isn't online but the issue is still available here. She goes into a lot of detailed analysis and comes up with a step-by-step process.

Andrew Kieran said...

Meg, Cally

I've looked up that issue (we have it in the library, happily enough) and have been in contact with the operator of the website i linked to who sent me a scan of a german book with some pictures of the apparatus, which is also featured in the article in the Journal.

From what I can tell, the actual normal technique is to have some extra threads, which I presume are used as figuring threads which can be added and subtracted from the reed as necessary. At the end when you want to take them out, you pull out an extra length and pass this across as weft, leaving the rest hanging from a wee weight to keep it from getting tangled.

I'm pretty sure these warps are on their own wee bundles, i can't see how it would work otherwise.

I believe you simply stitch in at the back where it'll be unseen. Liar's cloth indeed