Ordinary features.—The relieved surface characters of fabrics resulting from construction and available for decoration are more or less distinctly perceptible to the eye and to the touch and are susceptible of unlimited variation in detail and arrangement. Such features are familiar to all in the strongly marked ridges of basketry, and much more pleasingly so in the delicate figures of damasks, embroideries, and laces. So long as the figures produced are confined exclusively to the necessary features of unembellished construction, as is the case in very primitive work and in all plain work, the resultant patterns are wholly geometric and by endless repetition of like parts extremely monotonous.

In right angled weaving the figures combine in straight lines, which run parallel or cross at uniform distances and angles. In radiate weaving, as in basketry, the radial lines are crossed in an equally formal manner by concentric lines. In other classes of combination there is an almost equal degree of geometricity.

When, however, with the growth of intelligence and skill it is found that greater variety of effect can be secured by modifying the essential combinations of parts, and that, too, without interfering with constructive perfection or with use, a new and wide field is opened for the developmental tendencies of textile decoration.

Moreover, in addition to the facilities afforded by the necessary elements of construction, there are many extraneous resources of which the textile decorator may freely avail himself. The character of these is such that the results, however varied, harmonize thoroughly with indigenous textile forms.

To make these points quite clear it will be necessary to analyze somewhat closely the character and scope of textile combination and of the resultant and associated phenomena.

We may distinguish two broad classes of constructive phenomena made use of in the expression of relieved enrichment. As indicated above, these are, first, essential or actual constructive features and, second, extra or superconstructive features.

First, it is found that in the practice of primitive textile art a variety of methods of combination or bindings of the parts have been evolved and utilized, and we observe that each of these—no matter what the material or what the size and character of the filamental elements—gives rise to distinct classes of surface effects. Thus it appears that peoples who happen to discover and use like combinations produce kindred decorative results, while those employing unlike constructions achieve distinct classes of surface embellishment. These constructive peculiarities have a pretty decided effect upon the style of ornament, relieved or colored, and must be carefully considered in the treatment of design; but it is found that each type of combination has a greatly varied capacity of expression, tending to obliterate sharp lines of demarkation between the groups of results. It sometimes even happens that in distinct types of weaving almost identical surface effects are produced.

It will not be necessary in this connection to present a full series of the fundamental bindings or orders of combination, as a few will suffice to illustrate the principles involved and to make clear the bearing of this class of phenomena upon decoration. I choose, first, a number of examples from the simplest type of weaving, that in which the web and the woof are merely interlaced, the filaments crossing at right angles or nearly so. In Fig. 291 we have the result exhibited in a plain open or reticulated fabric constructed from ordinary untwisted fillets, such as are employed in our splint and cane products. Fig. 292 illustrates the surface produced by crowding the horizontal series of the same fabric close together, so that the vertical series is entirely hidden. The surface here exhibits a succession of vertical ribs, an effect totally distinct from that seen in the preceding example. The third variety (Fig. 293) differs but slightly from the first. The fillets are wider and are set close together without crowding, giving the surface a checkered appearance.

Fig. 291. Surface relief in simplest form of intersection

Fig. 291. Surface relief in simplest form of intersection.ToList

Fig. 293. Surface relief produced by wide fillets set close together

Fig. 293. Surface relief produced by wide fillets set close together.

Fig. 293. Surface relief produced by horizontal series crowded together

Fig. 292. Surface relief produced by horizontal series crowded together.

The second variety of surface effect is that most frequently seen in the basketry of our western tribes, as it results from the great degree of compactness necessary in vessels intended to contain liquids, semiliquid foods, or pulverized substances. The general surface effect given by closely woven work is illustrated in Fig. 294, which represents a large wicker carrying basket obtained from the Moki Indians. In this instance the ridges, due to a heavy series of radiating warp filaments, are seen in a vertical position.

Fig. 294. Basket showing ribbed surface

Fig. 294. Basket showing ribbed surface produced by impacting the horizontal or concentric filaments. Moki work—1/8.ToList

Fig. 295. Alternation of intersection, producing oblique or spiral ribs

Fig. 295. Alternation of intersection, producing oblique or spiral ribs. Piute work—1/8.ToList

Fig. 296. Radiating ribs as seen in flat work viewed from above

Fig. 296. Radiating ribs as seen in flat work viewed from above. Moki work—1/4.ToList

It will be observed, however, that the ridges do not necessarily take the direction of the warp filaments, for, with a different alternation of the horizontal series—the woof—we get oblique ridges, as shown in the partly finished bottle illustrated in Fig. 295. They are, however, not so pronounced as in the preceding case. The peculiar effect of radiate and concentric weaving upon the ribs is well shown in Fig. 296.

By changes in the order of intersection, without changing the type of combination, we reach a series of results quite unlike the preceding; so distinct, indeed, that, abstracted from constructive relationships, there would be little suggestion of correlation. In the example given in Fig. 297 the series of filaments interlace, not by passing over and under alternate strands, as in the preceding set of examples, but by extending over and under a number of the opposing series at each step and in such order as to give wide horizontal ridges ribbed diagonally.

Fig. 297. Diagonal combination, giving herring bone effect

Fig. 297. Diagonal combination, giving herring bone effect.ToList

Fig. 298. Elaboration of diagonal combination, giving triangular figures

Fig. 298. Elaboration of diagonal combination, giving triangular figures.ToList

This example is from an ancient work basket obtained at Ancon, Peru, and shown in Fig. 299. The surface features are in strong relief, giving a pronounced herring bone effect.

Fig. 299. Peruvian work basket of reeds, with strongly relieved ridges

Fig. 299. Peruvian work basket of reeds, with strongly relieved ridges.ToList

Slight changes in the succession of parts enable the workman to produce a great variety of decorative patterns, an example of which is shown in Fig. 298. A good illustration is also seen in Fig. 286, and another piece, said to be of Seminole workmanship, is given in Fig. 300. These and similar relieved results are fruitful sources of primitive decorative motives. They are employed not only within the art itself, but in many other arts less liberally supplied with suggestions of embellishment.

Fig. 300. Effects produced by varying the order of intersection

Fig. 300. Effects produced by varying the order of intersection. Seminole work—1/8.ToList

Taking a second type of combination, we have a family of resultant patterns in the main distinguishable from the preceding.

Fig. 301. Surface effect in open twined combination

Fig. 301. Surface effect in open twined combination.ToList

Fig. 302. Surface effect of twined, lattice combination in basketry

Fig. 302. Surface effect of twined, lattice combination in basketry of the Clallam Indians of Washington Territory—1/8.ToList

Fig. 301 illustrates the simplest form of what Dr. O.T. Mason has called the twined combination, a favorite one with many of our native tribes. The strands of the woof series are arranged in twos and in weaving are twisted half around at each intersection, inclosing the opposing fillets. The resulting open work has much the appearance of ordinary netting, and when of pliable materials and distended or strained over an earthen or gourd vessel the pattern exhibited is strikingly suggestive of decoration. The result of this combination upon a lattice foundation of rigid materials is well shown in the large basket presented in Fig. 302. Other variants of this type are given in the three succeeding figures.

Fig. 303. Surface effect in impacted work of twined combination

Fig. 303. Surface effect in impacted work of twined combination.ToList

The result seen in Fig. 303 is obtained by impacting the horizontal or twined series of threads. The surface is nearly identical with that of the closely impacted example of the preceding type (Fig. 292). The peculiarities are more marked when colors are used. When the doubled and twisted series of strands are placed far apart and the opposing series are laid side by side a pleasing result is given, as shown in Fig. 304 and in the body of the conical basket illustrated in Fig. 307.

Fig. 304. Surface effect obtained by placing the warp strands close together and the woof cables far apart

Fig. 304. Surface effect obtained by placing the warp strands close together and the woof cables far apart.ToList

Fig. 305. Surface effect obtained by crossing the warp series in open twined work

Fig. 305. Surface effect obtained by crossing the warp series in open twined work.ToList

In Fig. 305 we have a peculiar diagonally crossed arrangement of the untwisted series of filaments, giving a lattice work effect.

Fig. 306. Decorative effects produced by variations in the radiate or warp series in an open work tray

Fig. 306. Decorative effects produced by variations in the radiate or warp series in an open work tray. Klamath work—1/4.ToList

Fig. 306 serves to show how readily this style of weaving lends itself to the production of decorative modification, especially in the direction of the concentric zonal arrangement so universal in vessel-making arts.

The examples given serve to indicate the unlimited decorative resources possessed by the art without employing any but legitimate constructive elements, and it will be seen that still wider results can be obtained by combining two or more varieties or styles of binding in the construction and the embellishment of a single object or in the same piece of fabric. A good, though very simple, illustration of this is shown in the tray or mat presented in Fig. 286. In this case a border, varying from the center portion in appearance, is obtained by changing one series of the filaments from a multiple to a single arrangement.

Fig. 307. Conical basket of the Klamath Indians of Oregon

Fig. 307. Conical basket of the Klamath Indians of Oregon, showing peculiar twined effect and an open work border—1/8.ToList

The conical basket shown in Fig. 307 serves to illustrate the same point. In this case a rudely worked, though effective, border is secured by changing the angle of the upright series near the top and combining them by plaiting, and in such a way as to leave a border of open work.

Now the two types of construction, the interlaced and the twined, some primitive phases of which have been reviewed and illustrated, as they are carried forward in the technical progress of the art, exhibit many new features of combination and resultant surface character, but the elaboration is in all cases along lines peculiar to these types of weaving.

Other types of combination of web and woof, all tapestry, and all braiding, netting, knitting, crochet, and needle work exhibit characters peculiar to themselves, developing distinct groups of relieved results; yet all are analogous in principle to those already illustrated and unite in carrying forward the same great geometric system of combination.

Reticulated work.—A few paragraphs may be added here in regard to reticulated fabrics of all classes of combination, as they exhibit more than usually interesting relievo phenomena and have a decided bearing upon the growth of ornament.

In all the primitive weaving with which we are acquainted definite reticulated patterns are produced by variations in the spacings and other relations of the warp and woof; and the same is true in all the higher forms of the art. The production of reticulated work is the especial function of netting, knitting, crocheting, and certain varieties of needlework, and a great diversity of relieved results are produced, no figure being too complex and no form too pronounced to be undertaken by ambitious workmen.

In the following figures we have illustrations of the peculiar class of primitive experiments that, after the lapse of ages, lead up to marvelous results, the highest of which may be found in the exquisite laces of cultured peoples. The Americans had only taken the first steps in this peculiar art, but the results are on this account of especial interest in the history of the art.

An example of simple reticulated hand weaving is shown in Fig. 308. It is the work of the mound builders and is taken from an impression upon an ancient piece of pottery obtained in Tennessee.

Fig. 308. Incipient stage of reticulated ornament

Fig. 308. Incipient stage of reticulated ornament. Fabric of the mound builders.ToList

Fig. 309 illustrates a bit of ancient Peruvian work executed on a frame or in a rude loom, a checker pattern being produced by arranging the warp and woof now close together and now wide apart.

Open work of this class is sometimes completed by after processes, certain threads or filaments being drawn out or introduced, by which means the figures are emphasized and varied.

In Fig. 310 we have a second Peruvian example in which the woof threads have been omitted for the space of an inch, and across this interval the loose warp has been plaited and drawn together, producing a lattice-like band.

Fig. 309. Simple form of ornamental reticulation

Fig. 309. Simple form of ornamental reticulation. Ancient Peruvian work.ToList

Fig. 310. Reticulated pattern in cotton cloth

Fig. 310. Reticulated pattern in cotton cloth. Work of the ancient Peruvians.ToList

In a similar way four other bands of narrow open work are introduced, two above and two below the wide band. These are produced by leaving the warp threads free for a short space and drawing alternate pairs across each other and fixing them so by means of a woof thread, as shown in the cut.

Examples of netting in which decorative features have been worked are found among the textile products of many American tribes and occur as well in several groups of ancient fabrics, but in most cases where designs of importance or complexity are desired parts are introduced to facilitate the work.

Superconstructive features.—These features, so important in the decoration of fabrics, are the result of devices by which a construction already capable of fulfilling the duties imposed by function has added to it parts intended to enhance beauty and which may or may not be of advantage to the fabric. They constitute one of the most widely used and effective resources of the textile decorator, and are added by sewing or stitching, inserting, drawing, cutting, applying, appending, &c. They add enormously to the capacity for producing relievo effects and make it possible even to render natural forms in the round. Notwithstanding this fact—the most important section of this class of features—embroidery is treated to better advantage under color phenomena, as color is very generally associated with the designs.

Fig. 311. Open work design embroidered upon a net-like fabric

Fig. 311. Open work design embroidered upon a net-like fabric. From a grave at Ancon, Peru.ToList

One example of lace-like embroidery may be given in this place. It is probably among the best examples of monochrome embroidery America has produced. In design and in method of realization it is identical with the rich, colored embroideries of the ancient Peruvians, being worked upon a net foundation, as shown in Fig. 311. The broad band of figures employs bird forms in connection with running geometric designs, and still more highly conventional bird forms are seen in the narrow band.

Appended ornaments are not amenable to the geometric laws of fabrication to the extent observed in other classes of ornament. They are, however, attached in ways consistent with the textile system, and are counted and spaced with great care, producing designs of a more or less pronounced geometric character. The work is a kind of embroidery, the parts employed being of the nature of pendants.

These include numberless articles derived from nature and art. It will suffice to present a few examples already at hand.

Fig. 312. Basket with pendent buckskin strands tipped with bits of tin

Fig. 312. Basket with pendent buckskin strands tipped with bits of tin. Apache Indians—1/8.ToList

Fig. 312 illustrates a large, well made basket, the work of the Apache Indians. It serves to indicate the method of employing tassels and clustered pendants, which in this case consist of buckskin strings tipped with conical bits of tin. The checker pattern is in color.

Fig. 313. Basket with pendants of beads and bits of shell

Fig. 313. Basket with pendants of beads and bits of shell, work of the northwest coast Indians.—1/4.ToList

Fig. 313 illustrates the use of other varieties of pendants. A feather decked basket made by the northwest coast Indians is embellished with pendent ornaments consisting of strings of beads tipped with bits of bright shell. The importance of this class of work in higher forms of textiles may be illustrated by an example from Peru. It is probable that American art has produced few examples of tasseled work more wonderful than that of which a fragment is shown in Fig. 314. It is a fringed mantle, three feet in length and nearly the same in depth, obtained from an ancient tomb. The body is made up of separately woven bands, upon which disk-like and semilunar figures representing human faces are stitched, covering the surface in horizontal rows. To the center of these rosette-like parts clusters of tassels of varying sizes are attached. The fringe, which is twenty inches deep, is composed entirely of long strings of tassels, the larger tassels supporting clusters of smaller ones. There are upwards of three thousand tassels, the round heads of which are in many cases woven in colors, ridges, and nodes to represent the human features. The general color of the garment, which is of fine, silky wool, is a rich crimson. The illustration can convey only a hint of the complexity and beauty of the original.

Fig. 314. Tassel ornamentation from an ancient Peruvian mantle

Fig. 314. Tassel ornamentation from an ancient Peruvian mantle.ToList

We have now seen how varied and how striking are the surface characters of fabrics as expressed by the third dimension, by variation from a flat, featureless surface, and how all, essential and ornamental, are governed by the laws of geometric combination. We shall now see how these are related to color phenomena.