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Published: 08 September 2018

By Andy Ross

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Food and fabric

The world has been influenced by textiles in unexpected ways. This week two have been highlighted on social media. 

Over in the AtlasObscura universe, pineapples have been featured because of their use in the Phillippines for costly woven fabrics, often adorned by embroidery. The material made from the plants' fibres, scraped down into usable threads by shards of pottery and coconut husks, is woven into a gauzy fabric called piña which is highly prized. There are even links with European royalty which, along with the love affair Europe has had with pineapples, led to a craze for the fruit in the 18th Century. Have a read of the article here and do ask us about the fabric if you come to the studio. We have a piece of piña in the collection.

On another note, did you know that the trade routes influenced what the world eats? Another story on AtlasObscura highlights the spread of fruit, berries and nuts along the Silk Route. It seems strange that this type of research has not been done yet but apparently the lack of access to parts of Asia has meant that the places in which certain food items originated have not been available to researchers until now. The history of food is being rewritten, now that formerly inaccessible parts of the Eastern World are opening up, and there are some very interesting ideas coming out of the work. Central Asia is becoming recognised as being far more important than previously thought, particularly where the exchange of arts, culture, and ideas are concerned. You can read the full article here, and for more in-depth information, head on over to https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0201409 to read the research paper: "Arboreal crops on the medieval Silk Road: Archaeobotanical studies at Tashbulak."