Kelsey Museum 22601
This mat was simply constructed in a balanced plain weave
of common materials thick threads of durable bast
(fibers from plant stalks) and animal hair. A hole has been repaired
with an extensive darn of an even more densely woven patch of bast
Certain kinds of texts are
tremendously informative about the value of cloth goods. There is an example
in this section of a kind of tax document sometimes interpreted as recording
the collection of an actual garment rather than its monetary equivalent,
in which case cloth goods would have functioned as a kind of currency.
In other receipts and contracts, cloth goods are assigned monetary values.
Marriage contracts, for example, describe dowries (the wealth a woman
brings with her into a marriage), which often include clothing along with
other property. Not all the items listed in a dowry were splendid and
new, and not all the items brought together in a household were expensive
or of high quality. The mended mat shown here was found with a marriage
contract for the remarriage of a poor couple (see the third text in this
section, P. Mich. Inv. 4703).