January 31, 2013

The dawn of fabric

Whatever tale of origins persuades you, the world's first man was surely naked and unclothed when his Potter threw him, before the untimely and unlicensed hold he took of knowledge. But enough of esoteric lore. Let's have one of yours instead - the Egyptian narrative set down by Alexander for his mother to read about the age of Osiris, back when Ammon, rich in sheep, came out of Libya. It was in their company, the Egyptians declare, that Mercury chanced to brush his hand over a ram, and was so pleased by its softness that he separated a little sheep from its skin. The material's pliancy moved him to keep working it, and at his continued pinching a thread streamed forth. This he wove using a technique he had practiced on strips of linden-bark. But Minerva is credited by you with all wool-craft and construction of looms, even though the work at Arachne's shop was better done.

Tertullian, On the philosopher's cloak 3.4-5