Cinderella #291: Historic Relevance of Golden Spinning Wheels
|A piece of handwoven cloth
in North Carolina.
Once upon a time, somebody figured out how to process fibers into thread, and thread into cloth. Wearing clothes was so much nicer than either going naked or wrapping oneself up in furs or bark that weaving cloth suddenly became an important part of human culture. But weavings were not only practical. According to Elizabeth Wayland Barber, "textiles mark special people, places, and times and announce specific information about them." For example, even during Neolithic times, "stone age cloth makers" were weaving "stripes, checks, triangles, braided fringes, beadwork and fancy edgework". (p. 91)Also cloth "can be used as a vehicle for recording information, such as history or mythology.' Barber said,"In the third book of the Iliad (lines 125-127) Helen of Troy is described as weaving into her purple cloth 'the many struggles of the horse-taming Trojans and the bronze-tunicked Achains.' (p.153) By learning that "European folktales are full of references to the making of magical garments, especially girdles, in which the magic seems to be inherent in the weaving". In other words, the pattern is a message, not just a decoration. Remember too that "Fate, to the Greeks, was spun as a thread. Both thread and time were linear, both easily and arbitrarily broken." As to the history of golden spindles and spinning wheels, "The earliest golden spindles lay in opulent tombs dating to the middle of the 3rd millenium B.C., in the early Bronze Age." "That we have so many from so early an age suggests that constructing a precious metal spindle was not just the passing whim of one eccentric noblewoman." She cites "Homer's description of gold and silver spinning gear" given as gifts from one wealthy lady to another. (p.207-9)
Notes The Catskins and Thousand Furs and Allerleiraughs who begin life as wealthy maidens, and then end up as drudges in castles, eventually proving themselves to be of noble birth through displaying their golden weaving tools, sprung from historic truth. Stranger than fiction!