Lithuanian Sashes Book

This book is the most comprehensive resource on Lithuanian sashes available in English, with history, patterns and techniques, many colour plates, and illustrations of ornaments, motifs and symbols. Part Two of the book by Anastazija Tamošaitienė specifically explains and illustrates traditional Lithuanian sash-making techniques.

Available for sale. Email gro.i1638593924aftl@1638593924tcatn1638593924oc1638593924.

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Tamošaitis, Antanas and Anastazija, Lithuanian Sashes. Toronto: Danaitis Associates Inc., 1988 (316 pages: 60 pages of text in English, black and white photos, 47 pages of full colour photos, over 100 coloured diagrams)

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Review by: Annie MacHale 

This is a very amazing and exciting book which is valuable both as a look back into history, as well as a new source of inspiration to anyone currently weaving. It has been out of print for decades. While ethnographic references such as this one are most likely to be found in the native language of the country, this one is written in English. In preparation for the book, the authors examined several thousand ancient sashes. About one thousand of these have been reproduced in the book. Many of them are in full-color illustrations,  photos, sketches, and graphic patterns.

The first part, Traditions of Lithuanian Sashes, is a great resource to anyone interested in folk art, weaving, textiles, or Lithuanian culture and tradition. It outlines the history, uses, and cultural significance associated with various kinds of sashes. Regional differences and similarities are mentioned. A detailed map allows the reader to locate villages and
regions.

The second part, Traditional Lithuanian Techniques for Making Sashes, illustrates tools, materials and techniques. The wide variety of techniques is surprising. They include: plain warp-faced weaving, rep weave, pickup, weft-faced, twill, finger weaving, braiding, plaiting, inlaid, overlaid, tablet weaving, overshot, sprang, knitting, and crochet. Some threading drafts are given for woven bands.

The authors bring to life the culture through stories such as this: “Farmers would bring grain to a mill in colourful, striped sacks which they would immediately recognize upon their return to pick up the flour. Those who did not have such distinctively coloured sacks would tie a colorful patterned sash around their sacks”. They also share verses from folk songs and poetry, some of which are shown as inscriptions woven into bands. The 6-page glossary is very informative and the index helps the reader to easily find what they are interested in.

As a weaver, myself, I discovered a technique that I have never seen used before in warp-faced bands. These bands are illustrated in several photos and described in this way: “Sashes woven with three-coloured motifs were usually woven from handspun wool yarn by the women of the province of Zanavykija. Only three percent of sashes was woven with three-coloured motifs because only the rare weaver had the skill to weave them.” This discovery led to an adventurous hands-on exploration of what type of patterns worked in this technique. The resulting samples were shared in my own book, Three-Colored Pickup for Inkle Weavers.