Napped and knotted pile textiles have a long history; evidence for such textured fabrics dates back to around 3000 BCE in the Sumerian World (Mesopotamia). However, early references to pile-textured fabrics rarely indicate the particular type of pile texture. Some are vaguely described as “fleecy” or “shaggy”, for example, using vocabulary and descriptions that refer to constructed textiles rather than to furs or skins.

The following chronology lists such references as I have found for textiles with pile texture, although I do not claim that the earliest are extra-warp pile velvets, the “true” velvets that are the focus of this site. Thus, weft-pile (weft-looped) and knotted fabrics are included, along with some that may be brushed nap textures, or fabrics made with fuzzy wool, that can also be described as “fleecy”. Nevertheless, such references demonstrate an interest in this texture which provides an aesthetic and practical foundation for the eventual evolution of velvet weaving. The oldest extant fragments that are definitely extra-warp velvets are the rare Egyptian linen pile textiles from the early first millennium, which appear alongside the more common linen weft-looped examples of the same period. Both types have a similar general appearance and design. However, the extra-warp pile textures exemplify an important technological innovation in technique and loom evolution, which has been generally overlooked in textile history, especially for these Coptic textiles.

Evidence and Sources for Early Pile Fabrics and Velvets up to the Beginning of the 16th c.

The following chronology indicates the relevant region, period (CE unless otherwise noted), evidence and sources relevant to the evolution of velvet prior to the 16th century. This is not a comprehensive list; contributions of evidence found by others is most welcome, especially for the periods before 1300, and in other regions, especially throughout Asia. Full citations of sources or references for the evidence may be found in the research bibliography of this website.

Turkey, 8th c. BCE. There is one pile fabric which must have been made on a horizontal loom with two beams, for an extra yarn carried at the back was pulled to the face of the fabric, apparently over a gauge, after every warp end. Then ten shots of weft were inserted over two, under two, and packed down tightly. This piece is too charred to photograph well, so there is a drawing of back and front (Pl.10a). [Bellinger (1962), “Textiles from Gordion.” The Bulletin of the Needle and Bobbin Club 46: 4–33.] This is weft-looping, according to the drawing, and the description of 10 shots of tightly packed weft, which does not require two beams. http://www.handweaving.net/DAItemDetail.aspx?ItemID=3479.

Italy, pre-77. Frieze cloaks (gausapae) began within my father’s memory, and cloaks with hair on both sides (amphimallia) within my own, as also shaggy belts; moreover, weaving a broad-striped (lati clavi) tunic after the manner of a frieze cloak (in modum gausapae) is coming for the first time now. [Pliny the Elder (77/1956), Naturalis Historia, VIII, lxxiii, ¶193; cited by Kendrick (1920-22), Catalogue of Textiles from Burying Grounds in Egypt, Vol. I, p.28.] The term frieze refers to a heavy woollen fabric with a long nap, used for coats, etc.

Egypt, pre-77. Weaving different colours into a pattern was chiefly brought into vogue in Babylon which gave its name to this process. But the fabric called damask (polymita) woven with a number of threads was introduced by Alexandria, and check patterns by Gaul. [Pliny the Elder (77/1956), VIII, lxxiii, ¶196.]

Late Roman Empire/Egypt, 301. The Price Edict of Diocletian lists three grades of Manti{u}lium billosorum Gallicorum sive mapparum in the linen category; these refer to pile napkins or serviettes “of Gaul”. [Giacchero (1974), Edictum Diocletiani, §26, lines 265-268.]

Egypt/ Akhmîm, attr. 3rd c. Artefact: RISD 16.335. Linen warp velvet with uncut pile loops. [Milton Sonday notes seen 1996.] RISD is the Rhode Island School of Design Collection.

Mesopotamia?; found at Akhmîm, attr. 3rd/4th c. Artefact: V&A 1351-1888. Linen warp velvet with short uncut pile loops, applied tapestry rondel (wool warp). [Kendrick (1920-22), Catalogue of Textiles from the Burying Grounds in Egypt, v1 #279, p119; seen in person at V&A.] V&A is the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK.

Egypt/ Akhmîm, 4th-5th c. Artefact: V&A 682-1886. Linen warp velvet with cut pile, inset tapestry bands. [Kendrick (1920-22) v2 #302, p10; seen in person at V&A.]

Egypt/ Akhmîm, 4th-5th c. Artefact: V&A 691-1886. Linen warp velvet with cut pile, inset tapestry square. [Kendrick (1920-22) v2 #303, p10; seen in person at V&A.]

Egypt/ Akhmîm, 4th-5th c. Artefact: V&A 708-1886. Linen warp velvet with cut pile, inset tapestry band & square. [Kendrick (1920-22) v2 #301, p10; seen in person at V&A.]

Prob. Egypt, 4th-5th c. Artefact: TMW 71.135. Linen warp velvet with short uncut pile loops. [Sonday (2000), Textile Museum Journal 38/39, p141 & photo; Bellinger (1955), figs. 25-27.] TMW refers to the Textile Museum in Washington, DC, now affiliated with George Brown University.

Egypt/ Akhmîm, attr. 5th/6th c. Artefact: V&A 1307-1888. Linen warp velvet with short uncut pile loops, applied tapestry square.[{Kendrick (1920-22) v2 #395, p39; seen in person at V&A.]

Egypt/ Akhmîm, attr. 5th/6th c. Artefact: V&A 717-1886. Linen warp velvet with cut pile, two applied tapestry bands. [Kendrick (1920-22) v1 #160, p93; seen in person at V&A.]

Egypt, 420-560. Artefact: KTN 998-01. Linen warp velvet with pile, applied silk samite trim. [Verhoeken-Lammens (2008), Garment 1.]

Prob. Egypt, attr. 6th c. Artefact: Musée Historique des Tissus, Lyon, Inv. 24400/118. Linen warp velvet fragment with cut pile, inset tapestry band & rondel. [Vial (1984), Le Velours aux Fers, p.14; Vial’s documentation of this seen in Lyon, 1996.]

Persia, 724-743. During the reign of Hisham, there were made striped silk… and velvets (kutuf [plural of katifa]). [Serjeant (1972), Islamic Textiles, p.14; translation of claim made by 10th c. author, Mas’udi in Murudj al-Dhahab (943 AD): … nobody was fonder of dress than was Hisham according to Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi (Mas‘udi).]

France?/Syria, ca 800. Possible original binding in twill velvet of Bible of Theodolf, Bishop of Orléans. [Hebbe (1879), Paleographie des Textiles: Bible de Theodulfe].

Persia, Abbasid period, ca 809. 500 velvet garments (qatifah) are listed in detailed inventory of Abbasid treasury at start of Al-Amin’s rule. [Qaddumi (1996), Kitab al-Hadaya wa al-Tuhaf / Book of Gifts & Rarities, p.207. ¶302.]

Persia /Egypt /Syria, ca 810-870. Kassi, a material apparently used since early days of Islam, is described by Bukhari (at third hand): They are garments which came to us from Syria and Egypt. They were striped (mudalla) and contained silk (harir); there are some which are like oranges (in texture or color?) or like the skins of animals (mithara). Women make them for the use of their husbands of a stuff similar to velvet (katifa) and dye them yellow. [Serjeant (1972), p.160 and ff. source: El-Bokhari, Les Traditions islamiques, trans. O Houdas & W Marçais, PELOV IV, III, IV, 108; Cf Le Recueil des traditions mahométanes par … el-Bokhari, ed. M L Krehl and T W Juynboll (Leyden, 1862-1905) IV, 84; Bukhari, Muhammad ibn Isma’il (ca 810-870)].

India/Gujurat or Bengal, ca 826-912. Ibn Khurdazabah (826-912 AD), an Arab geographer, was first to mention “fine velvet cloths, al-khamliyat” in reference to “the kingdom of Rahma” – either a kingdom in Bengal or in Gujarat. [Dhamija (1989), Indian Velvets, Handwoven Fabrics of India, p.53.]

India, 820-912. Ibn Khurdadbih (820-912 AD) mentions “cotton garments with a velvety pile (mukhmal) as products of India [Serjeant (1972), p. 217.]

Egypt 891 “Ya’kubi said Tinnis is an ancient city in which valuable garments of Dabiki and kasab (linen) are made, of close texture and fine, as well as striped cloaks (butud), and stuffs of a velvet texture (mukhmal), figured stuffs (washi) and other kinds of cloth. It has a port for ships coming from Syria and the Maghreb.” [Serjeant (1972), p.14;. source: Ya’kubi, Kitab al-Boldan, B.G.A., ed. M. J. de Goeje (Leyden, 1892), VII, 337.]

Persia, 903. Ibn Rusta supports reputation of Sawad in Iraq for rich velvets (kutuf sawadiya) [Chandra, (1961), Costumes and Textiles in the Sultanate Period, Journal of Indian Textile History, v6, p.36.]

Persia/ Barzand, pre-922. Al-Tabari [d. 922 AD] spoke of trousers of khazz-silk called katifa, and mentioned a katifa of brocade (dibadj). Serjeant concluded that all we can understand by this term [katifa] is some rich embroidered stuff, sometimes a velvet. [Serjeant (1972), p.72, n.102. source: Tabari, Annales [1337?], ed. M J de Goeje (Leyden, 1879-1901), II/ I 366 & I/III 1485.]

Egypt/ Byzantium, 938. Makhammalah & qutuf are listed in a supposed inventory of gifts sent by the Byzantine emperors (Romanos Lecapenus, Stephanos [?] & Constantine VII) to the Abbasid caliph Al-Radi. [Qaddumi (1996), p.99-102. ¶73-74.]

Syria/Damascus, 933. A dowry list includes 10. 25 din., 2 brocade bed covers-8 din., 6 velvet covers (?)-10 din., 10 pillows-… [Friedman (1981), p.396-429.]

Syria/Damascus, 956. A dowry list includes 17. a Rum kerchief-100 din.; 2 velvet covers-2 din.; 5 cushions-3 din.  [Friedman (1981), p.197-207, and commentary for this line.]

Syria/Damascus, ca 960-1000. A dowry list includes 5. … din.; two velvet covers (?), a container (?) …” [Friedman (1981), p.273-279.]

India, ca 961? The Lata’if al-Ma‘arif states: The land of India is the country which possesses most rare products which are found there alone. Among those are … velvet garments (thiyab mukhmala), etc. Thus it possesses more special products than Rum which is only reckoned to have brocade (dibadj), … and sundus-brocade which is called buzyun, and various different kinds of garments. [Serjeant (1972), p.217. source: Tha‘alibi, Lata’if al-Ma‘arif, ed. P. de Jong (Leyden, 1876), p. 125; Tha’alibi, Abd al-Malik ibn Muhammad (ca 961?)]

Persia/Fars, ca. 960-1020. Makdisi (Mukaddasi) describes Kazerun as the Damietta of the Persians, adding: From Kazerun garments of kasab come, and the same from Tawwaz, Dariz, and those districts, as well as Dabiki, and napkins with a velvety surface (manadil mukhmala), which are carried to the eight quarters of the world, but there is a great difference between them and the Shatawi type. [Serjeant (1972), p.51; source: Makdisi (Mukaddasi), Descriptio imperii Moslemici, ed. M J de Goeje, Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum (BGA) Ledyen, 1876; 2nd ed. 1906, III, 420. Al-Muqaddasi (Muhammad ibn Ahmad), b. ca 946, not likely to be writing before 960 or after 1040.]

Persia 969-1071 velvet military banners (bunud) reportedly included in military banner treasury after storehouse burned. [Qaddumi (1996), p.231-2. ¶375.]

India, 982-983. In his account called Hudud Al Alam, an anonymous Arab geographer refers to thiyab makhmal, which Dhamija says means garments of velvet. [Dhamija (1989), p.53; source: Hudud al-Alam (982-83).]

India/Punjab, 982-983. The Hudud Al-Alam also notes Kalhin and Jalhandar, identified as a towns in Central India and Jullundau of Punjab” as places of velvet manufacture. [Dhamija (1989) p.53; also Serjeant, p.217 makes general reference to this mention of Indian velvet; also cited by Chandra (1961).]

Persia/ Barzand, Mukan prov. north of Gilan, early 9th c.- 982. Concerning Mukan province, north of Gilan, the Hudud says … that [its capital Barzand] produced “katifa -textiles”. It had fallen to ruin and was rebuilt … in the first half of the 3rd c. of the Hijra.” [Serjeant (1972), p.72; see also n.102 same page; source: Hudud al-Alam, p142.]

Persia/Iraq, 1000-1100. 11th c. author Abu’l-Mutahhar al-Azdi: Nor do I see your [Isfahanis’] houses with their public rooms furnished with … Rumi (Byzantine) velvets (“katifa”), ... [Serjeant (1972), p.212; source: Abu’l-Mutahhar al-Azdi, in Hikayat Abu’l-Kasim.]

Persia/Iraq, 1000-1100. Also in Hikayat Abi’l-Kasim, Abu’l-Mutahhar al-Azdi cited the velvets of the Sawad (kutuf Sawadiya) [Iraqi velvets] as a typical furnishing of the houses of Isfahan. [Serjeant (1972), p.33 & p.84; source: Abu’l-Mutahhar al-Azdi, in Hikayat Abu’l-Kasim (Abu ‘l-Kasim poss. lived in Baghdad about the second or third century AH?)]

Persia/Iraq, 1000-1100. In the 11th c. Abu ‘l-Kasim used the term Mutawakkili to describe a very fine kind of garment: … [a] towel of light Mutawakkili Dabiki, embroidered with a tiraz border, with a velvet-like pile (mukhmal), made in Egypt, with two badges (?‘alam), and two bands (zunnar) and their patterns of fine thread, of perfect length, exquisite width, with a short pile, bordered with a fringed (?) border (hashiya mashkuka), softer than kazz-silk and finer than floss-silk (khazz) (?) [Serjeant (1972), p.18-19.] According to Mas’udi, the term Mutawakkili was also used to describe a kind of cloth of a very beautiful weave (thiyab al-mulhama); he claimed such fabrics were still to be found (ca 943 AD) and had been favoured by Caliph al-Mutawakkili [847-861 AD]: He wore garments called thiyab mulhama (a stuff with a warp of silk, but a woof of some other material [Dozy], which he preferred to all other stuffs, and this fashion was followed by all the members of his household and then spread among the people. [Serjeant (1972), p.18-19; source Mas’udi.]

Egypt/North Africa, 1031. Velvet (mukhammal) curtains were included in list of gifts sent by Fatimid caliph Al-Zahir to the Zirid ruler al-Mu‘izz. [Qaddumi (1996), p.105-6. ¶80.]

Syria / Egypt?, 1067? or 1123-24? Makrizi wrote: From the Khaza’in al-Farsh, there were brought forth … furnishings (farsh) of Kalamuni, Dabiki of a velvet pile (mukhmal), in all its colors and kinds, the abundance of which it is impossible to estimate, nor can the extent of its value be known … [Serjeant (1972), p.159; source: Makrizi, from Description of “Stores of Upholstery & Furnishings” (period of al-Mustansir, Fatimid ruler 1036-1094).]

Syria / Egypt? 1067 ? Makrizi also wrote: … pavillions and marquees (fustat) manufactured of Dabiki and velvet stuffs …; Serjeant’s note regarding this velvet says perhaps Dabiki mukhmal should be read for Dabiki wa-mukhmal. [Serjeant (1972), p. 160, and note 185; source: Makrizi, “Store of Tents”.]

Persia/Iraq, ca 1073. Djawaliki reports durnuk-carpets as a kind of tinfisa-carpet, but others described them as curtains (sutur) and large carpets (furush) … Some said they had a short pile (khaml kasir) like the pile of towels (khaml al-manadil). The hair of the camel has been compared to them …“; Serjeant notes: tinfisa is a word which, according to Mez is derived from Greek. [Serjeant (1972) , p.35; source: Djawaliki, Kitab al-Mu‘arrab, ed. E. Sachau, Leipzig, 1867 [al-Jawaliqi (Mawhub ibn Ahmad), ca 1073 (poss. date of writing).]

Persia/Iraq or Turkey, 1071-1300. Several documentary sources mention çatma-i kadife-i pelengi in reference to Persian & European imports into Turkey during the Seljuk period. [Gürsu (1988), The Art of Turkish Weaving, p.28.

Spain, 1082. Burial of Ramon Berenguer II, possibly with velvet pillow originally? [Martin I Ros, (1992) 131.]

France, 1100-1200. Appearance of sericulture in France. [Le Velours dans l’Ouest Lyonnais de 1830 à 1930 (1995), p.6]

Italy/Florence, 1175-1200. Florence during the last quarter of the twelfth century could claim weavers working in the new technique. (see below- questionable evidence) [May (1957), Silk Textiles of Spain, p. 120. This claim is questionable, as it may be based on an erroneous translation of the following quotation from Reininger (1939).

Italy/Florence, 1187. A privilege granted to the people of Florence by the Emperor Henry VI contained a clause binding the city to supply the imperial court with a piece of good velvet on the first of May every year. [Reininger (1939), “The Florentine Textile Industry of the Middle Ages,” CIBA Review 27, p. 957-958.] It is unclear whether this is referring to velvet or not, as the declaration in Latin states “examitum”] This may be the source of May’s comment (above) about that Florentine weavers were making velvet in the latter years of the 12th c. (May, p.120).] Note: Henry VI was the German, Holy Roman emperor, son of Frederick Barbarossa, brother-in-law of Irene (daughter of Byzantine emperor Isaac II & widow of Norman prince). 

Italy, 1224. The inventory of objects willed by Cardinal Guala of San Martino (Rome) includes: In primo luogo tredici piviali dei quali sette sono in sciàmito (drappo di seta pesante, simile al velluto, usato un tempo per paramenti o abiti lussuosi) rosso, quattro catasciamito (velluto ancora più ricco dello sciàmito) rosso, …

England, 1245. Saint Paul’s Church inventories list two books: a Passionarium, called Pilosum from its hairy cover, a book of Homilies also called Pilosum, … [Simpson, (), Two Inventories of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul’s, London. In Archaeologia, vol L, part 2, p.451.] Many other textiles are not discussed in detail in this article which might be velvet, eg. Copes, cushions, rugs. 

Egypt, 1250-1398. The troops of the [Mamluk] emirs and others used to wear various kinds of kamkha … and a velvety material (mukhmal) … Then the wearing of silk was declared unlawful in the days of al-Zahir Barkuk [1382-98 AD]

Italy/Venice, 1265. Regulations for weaving of catasamiti indicate that these are denser and shorter than typical samites and other flat cloths [in same way that later velvets would be described]; proportions of 1 extra end min. per 6 warp ends. [Acts of the Samitarium, 1265; Capitolari dei Samitiarum.]

France/Paris, 1268-1300. Regulations for velvet weavers are included in Boileau’s Livre des métiers [Depping (1837) Livre des métiers …]

England, 1278. Adinettus, Edward I’s tailor, purchased in Paris a velvet covering for the head of the king’s bed at a cost of 100s. (Lysons (1814), 308). [Crowfoot, Pritchard, Staniland (1991), Textiles and Clothing, c.1150-1450, p. 127.]

England, 1281. By the middle of the 1280s, Bogo de Clare, a notoriously extravagant and avaricious churchman, is recorded as having a coverlet made from velvet (Guiseppi, 1920. 31, 38). [Crowfoot, Pritchard, Staniland (1991), Textiles and Clothing, c.1150-1450, p. 127.]

Spain, 1291-1327. Spanish [Muslim?} weavers are thought to have begun weaving velvet during the reign of James II of Aragón. [May (1957), Silk Textiles of Spain, p.121.]

France/Paris, 1292-1298. 3 velvet weavers are listed in tax assessment rolls for Paris. [Farmer (2017). The Silk Industries of Medieval Paris.]

England, 1295. An inventory compiled in 1295 of vestments in Saint Paul’s Cathedral [London] includes a chasuble of blue velvet [(Sparrow Simpson 1887, 521 fn c) Crowfoot, Pritchard, Staniland (1991), Textiles and Clothing, c.1150-1450, p. 127.]

Italy/Rome, 1295. Inventory of treasury of the Holy See (Vatican) itemizes 6-7 velvets (itemised below). [Molieri (1882). Inventaire du trésor du Saint-Siège sous Boniface VIII (1295).]

  • Item 862, unum repositorium pro corporali de cataxamito[2] cum imagine Majestatis ab una parte sedentis et alia Crucifixi, et beate Marie et Joannes des auro tractitio. 
  • Item 977, tunicam et dalmaticam de cataxamito viridi cum listis de panno tartarico quasi alba.
  • Item 1054, stolam sine manipulo de cataxamito viridi et vili. 
  • Item 1099, unam carpitam de panno serico velluto cum fundo rybeo et brodatura iallo. 
  • Item 1100, aliam carpitam de panno veluto cum fundo rubeo et brodatura viridi.
  • Item1101, aliam carpitam cum fundo de panno tartarico multo pulchro ad flores et folia, cum brodatura de velluto rubeo.
  • Item 1106, unum paliotum cum fundo de panno tartarico coloris celestis ad barras ad aurum per longum, brodatam de velluto rubeo.
  • Item 1107, unum paliotum de panno velluto cum fundo rubeo et brodatura ialda. 
  • Item 1108, unum paliotum cum fundo de panno de Romania cum avibus ad aurum et brodatura de panno tartarico ad medalias aureas.
  • Item 1109, unum paliotum de panno tartarico nigro ad aves auratus cum brodatura de panno rubeo velluto.
  • Item 1165, unum pannum tartaricum pilosum rubeum ad medalias aureas.
  • Item1276, frustrum de panno tartarico velluto iallo, longum de tribus brachiis, et amplum de uno pede. 

France, 1302. The inventory of Raoul de Nesle records velvets, including 3 striped, one of which is striped with gold thread. [Monnas (1986) “Developments in Figured Velvet Weaving in Italy during the 14th Century.” Bulletin de Liaison de CIETA, no. 63–64; p.64.]

Spain/Sicily, 1303. James II sends two Muslim silk weavers from Barcelona to the court of his sister-in-law, Élénore of Anjou, queen of Sicily [located in Palermo?]. More than half of the silk textiles he purchased were the work of Muslim weavers. [May (1957). Silk Textiles of Spain: Eighth to Fifteenth Century. New York: Hispanic Society of America, p.122.]

Spain, 1308. Blanche of Anjou’s testament … mentions a red velvet altarcloth. [May (1957), p.121.]

Italy/Lucca, 1311. There is mention of Lucchese velvet. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 64.]

Italy/Lucca, 1314. Lucchese silk-weavers flee to other cities, esp. Florence, Venice. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 64.]

France, 1317. The accounts of King Philippe le Long of France list many velvets, including striped and unstriped ones. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 64-65.]

Italy/Naples(?), 1317. The St. Louis Altarpiece painted by Simone Martini, shows “closely observed” depictions of textiles. The King’s cope appears to be a velvet covered in gold discs (medallions), a possible example of tartar silk velvet or its imitation. [Monnas (1993), Dress and textiles in the St. Louis Altarpiece, pp.170-171.]

Italy/Siena, 1325. An inventory of Compagnia dei Disciplinati di Siena lists a uno tappeto quadro peloso and un pianetta tramezzata verde, egisfiore di sciamitello. [Banchi (1866). Capitoli Della Compagnia Dei Disciplinati Di Siena De’ Secoli 13., 14. e 15. Restituiti Alla Vera Lezione Con L’aiuto Degli Antichi Manoscritti Da Luciano Banchi. Siena: I Gati editore, p.73 & 72.]

England, 1327. Textiles purchased for the Coronation of Edward III list 19 pieces and 39 7/8 ells of velvet in various colours: red, murrey (a shade of violet), violet, purple, green, and yellow. One may have been an early example of a two-colour polychrome velvet [alternately a striped velvet] [Monnas (2001), p.9.]

Italy/Verona, 1329. A plain velvet scabbard was entombed with Cangrande della Scala. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 64.]

England, 1331-1332. Great Wardrobe accounts of Edward II list 2 striped velvets in 4 colours. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 65]

Italy/Venice, 1334. Sumptuary restrictions placed on wearing velvet. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 64.]

Italy, 1340s. Chequered (checked) velvets are available. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 65.]

France, 1342. The pavilion for the French king has canopy poles covered in striped velvet. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 65.]

England, 1342-1343. Great wardrobe accounts list chequered velvet. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 65.]

Spain, 1344. A decree of Peter IV the Ceremonious refers to velvet housings, bed hangings, cushions, and coverlets. [May (1957). p.121.]

Italy/Lucca, 1344. A Lucchese merchant supplies King Philippe de Valois’s wardrobe with one quenelé (transversely striped with voided areas) velvet and one chequered (voided?) velvet with gold and silver brocade squares. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 65.]

Italy/Lucca, 1345. A contract of 3 weavers proposing to form a society to weave velvet with 12 looms. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 64.]

Italy/Venice, 1347. Venetian velvet weavers split into a separate guild, Velluderi, from the guild of Samitarii. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 64.]

Khurasan, 1355. According to Ibn Batuta, “At Nishapur are made silken garments (harir) of nakhkh and velvet (kamkha) … which are taken to India”. These stuffs were also made in Baghdad and Tabriz. [Serjeant (1972), p.92; source Ibn Battuta, Voyages d’Ibn Batoutah, ed. And trans. By C Defrémery and B R Sanguinetti (Paris, 1853-59) III, 81; also II, 311 of same title.]

Spain, 1364. Velvets are mentioned in the will of Elisenda de Moncada, 3rd queen consort of James II.

Italy/Venice, 1366. The Venetian senate bans importation of velvets into Venice. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 64.]

Italy/Pisa, 1369. A Cathedral inventory lists 2 chequered vestments, one with red and yellow pile. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 65.]
Italy, 1373. Drawlooms for figured velvet w/ bobbins for pile warps are in use. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p.64 (from Bini)]

Italy/Lucca, 1376. Weaving statutes permit polychrome velvets to have only 2 ground ends between each pile group, instead of the mandated 3. [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 65.]

Spain, 1385. The re-interment of Ramon Berenguer II with a new velvet pillow, possibly local production or diplomatic gift. [Martin I Ros (1992), p.131.]

Italy/Florence, 1399. Florentine merchants supply voided velvets w/ satin ground to Valencia (Spain). [Monnas (1986), Developments, p. 64 (from Melis)]

Flanders/Bruges, 1434. The famous painting by Jan Van Dyck of the wealthy merchant Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife clearly depicts solid velvet clothing in detailed photographs. [can be viewed on Wikimedia Commons and at https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jan-van-eyck-the-arnolfini-portrait.%5D

Italy/Siena, 1492. An inventory of the Capitoli [Banchi (1866). Capitoli, p. 87-89] lists the following velvets:

  • una pianeta di velluto alizandrino figurato. 
  • una pianeta di velluto fiorato.
  • una pianeta di velluto verde figurato.
  • una pianeta di velluto nero figurato … con la stola e manipolo del medisimo velluto nero.
  • uno piviale … col cappuccio di velluto cremusi, co l’arme della Compagnia.

France, 1511. Possible velvet re-binding (?) of Bible of Theodolf [Hedde (1879)]

Posted July 11, 2019 by Veloutiere

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