The last two days, the 26th & 27th, have been spent in the back rooms of the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen examining a cross-knit nalbound sock and the Mammen mantle ribbon fragments. My sincerest thanks to Anne Haslund Hansen and Ulla Mannering respectively for their time and assistance in making these items available for examination.
I first learned of their sock this past January when I was in Copenhagen giving my presentation on preliminary data regarding the finds from Egypt and surrounding regions: Charting the Nalbinding of the Nile. The day after the seminar, there was a group tour of the Egyptian exhibit in the National Museum of Denmark led by the Senior Researcher, Anne Haslund Hansen.
When we were viewing the Coptic Era tunic on display, it was asked if there were any more textiles in the collection. To which the answer was yes. They had a box of Coptic textiles that had not been examined in particular detail yet. Having just mentioned the possibility that there might be unknown socks hiding in old boxes in museum collections, I had to ask if there might be a sock in there. I was still quite surprised when she said yes. Although it is solid brown, it’s quite an impressive sock. It’s primarily whole and has a very dense fringe at the ankle.
The Mammen mantle ribbons I have, of course, known about for decades. From the first images I saw in Margrethe Hald’s book, “Ancient and Danish Textiles from Bogs and Burials,” to the high resolution images that were available online for a while in collaboration with the Centre for Textile Research, they have been of particular interest to me.
In fact, the basic stitch used in this find (and in other regions such as Coptic Era Egypt) has been one that I have used when teaching people to nalbind. It’s simple enough to understand and yet complex enough that it makes transitioning to other stitches easier. In fact, it’s the primary stitch on which I based my instruction manual “Nalbinding Made Easy.”
So to say I was excited to be allowed the opportunity to study the ribbons, might be an understatement. There is always something to be learned in examining a find in person. Even though they’ve been permanently sewn to their mounting board, there were plenty of interesting details to be gleaned about their construction.
Detailed reports will be forthcoming, but will have to wait until after I complete my examinations of the three pairs of cross-knit nalbound socks in the collection of the Musée Dobrée in Nantes, France.