Sunday, August 29, 2010

A History Lesson

Decades ago, a unique man taught me that taking a break from daily routine is called vacation.  In its simplest form, vacation might mean skipping laundry in favor of a picnic.  In more complex forms, vacation has come to revolve around travel away from daily routine - often to far away locales and experiences not available near home.

Vacation this year was more of a mental need than desire to break the daily routine.  So it was that a familiar, yet far away local was chosen and off to London we went.  We being my Dave and the knitting.  I am pleased to report that no mishaps occurred and no security (on either side of the pond) questioned the bamboo needles nor the metal crochet hook.  What follows are musings along the way.

Whilst at the British Museum  this survivor of Athens' glory caught my attention.  Look closely (or try clicking to enlarge)  and you'll discover that this vessel is decorated with a a woman using a drop spindle.   Yes, a drop spindle.  Right there on an object used in daily life.  Oh, surely had I paused long enough to ponder such historical issues, it might have dawned upon me that fiber has always had to be "worked" into a form suitable for weaving or sewing or embellishing.  It just never occurred to this brain that the drop spindle is ancient!  

Very ancient.

Ancient as in at least  c. 490 BC.  

Absolutely wonderful!  I find it soothing that even the esteemed British Museum finds value in the depiction of making of thread via the drop spindle.  Think about it for a while - give your brain a vacation.

Surely the making of thread for weaving into cloth was, at the time this jug was thrown and decorated, a necessary whorl in the cog of civilization.  Imagine the constancy of the activity.  The vast amount of thread required to clothe the civilized world.   Daily life could possibly have revolved around producing lengths of string.  This was work.

Tools of the trade.  Preserved for all to see and ponder.

Drop spindles of history on display for all to see. 

Work.  Necessity of civilization.  The desire to toss off the skins of last week's dinner and cover the body in a manner that allowed freedom of movement for the work of civilization required work.  Lots of work and invention and thought and effort.

What once was (and not that very long ago) daily work and necessity is now, for so many of us, vacation from daily routine. I have friends who delight in their spindles and wheels.  Making string, is for them a relaxing and mental break from the work of daily life.  Vacation in it's simplest form.

I wonder what the Athenians did for vacation.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to hear you had no problems getting your vacationing tools to your vacation locale and back. :-) Your post is interesting and thought provoking. I've wondered about how they were able to produce so much thread/yarn to weave and cloth themselves. It seems like a very full time job. I wonder if they enjoyed it?. And, I wonder, also, what they would have done for rest and relaxation. I love spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, sewing, etc. But, I think it's because I don't have to do it. If it was a necessity...I'm not so sure I would be so in love with it.