Historic Textiles from Karanis
Texts about Textiles
Texts from Karanis
Highlighted Texts
Cloth Goods
Tax Document
Marriage Contracts
A Loan Contract


Mended Mat

Mended Mat
Kelsey Museum 22601
Karanis, 26-B17

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 only.

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).