Patterned Silk Weaving in Ancient Times A Study of Some Silks from Central-Asia Found in the Viking Area.


  • Åse Eriksen University of Bergen


Emneord (Nøkkelord):

Samitum, Vertical loom, Patterned Silk, Silk, Viking Age


Patterned silks came to Scandinavia as small pieces of reused material, but they were still valuable for the Vikings to have been used as trimmings on their garments. In over a millennium, the weave structure of samitum in these fragments was used in all patterned silk. In the medieval it was displaced in favor for other structures. It has lapsed into obscurity for weavers today.
For several reasons the study of these silks has been difficult. The fragments are fragile. They were not made in Norway. Few have mastered this weaving technique. 
Is it possible to reconstruct these ancient silks, based on the knowledge gained from studying historical silks and experience acquired from using the structure in modern textiles? This article is about my attempt to do so, and also my reflections of the possible longtime impact on these silks on the weaving tradition in Norway.


Åse Eriksen, University of Bergen

Textile artist, and guest lecturer at Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design


Becker, J. (1987). Pattern and loom. Rhodos International Publishers.

Bugge, A. (1970). Tekstilfunn i Flåm kirke. In Fortidsminneforeningens årbok 1970 (pp. 75-84). Foreningen til norske Fortidsminnesmerkes Bevaring.

Crowfoot, E., Pritchard, F. & Stainiland, K. (2001). Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450. (2. Edition). Boydell press.

Engelstad, H. (1952). Refil, Bunad og tjeld. (Fortidskunst i Norges bygder 11). Gyldendals forlag.,%20buna d%20og%20tjeld

Eriksen, Å. (2017). Med silke til Valhall. In Viking, Norsk Arkeologisk årbok 2017. Norwegian Archaeological Society 2017, (pp. 39-85).

Eriksen. Å. (2014) Samitum [Video]. YouTube.

Eriksen. Å. (2015) Silkfabric from the Oseberg burial. [Video]. YouTube.

Geijer, A. (2006). Ur textilkonstens historia. (4. Edition). Gidlunds Förlag.

Hansen, V. (1992). Kuber och Blixtar. Institutet för Kulturforskning.

Hoskins, N. A. (2003). Technology and Tapestry in the Coptic Period. Medieval Textiles. (35), 1-10.

Hougen, B. (2006). Billedvev, In A.E. Christensen & M. Nockert (Eds.), Osebergfunnet (bind IV, Tekstilene). Kulturhistorisk Museum, Universitetet i Oslo.

Krafft, S. (1955). Fra Osebergfunnets tekstiler. Fragmenter av billedvev og silketekstiler med rekonstruerte mønstre. Dreyers forlag.

Nockert, M. (1984). Mässhakan från Röldal, In T. Gjerdi, A. Kjellberg & G. AA. Rosander. By og bygd, Festskrift til Marta Hoffmann. Norsk folkemuseums årbok 1983-84 (Bind xxx)(pp. 195-200). Norsk folkemuseum.

Nockert, M. (2006). Siden. In A. E. Christensen & M. Nockert. Osebergfunnet (bind IV, Tekstilene). (pp. 277-337). Kulturhistorisk Museum, Universitetet i Oslo.

Sheng, A. (2020). Reading Textiles, Transmission and Technology of Silk Road Textiles in the First Millennium. In Harris, J (Ed). A Companion to Textiles. (pp. 109-126). John Wiley & son.

Sheng, A. (2017). Chinese silks that circulated among people north and west: implications for technological excange in early times. In B. Hildebrandt with C. Gillis. (Eds.). Silk. (pp. 104-123). Oxbow Books.

Sjøvold, Aa. B. (1983). Norsk Billedvev (3. Edition). Huitfeldt Forlag. 20sj%C3%B8vold

Sylvan, V. & Geijer, A. (1931). Siden och Brokader. Bokförlaget Natur och Kultur.

Vedeler, M. (2019). Oseberg de gåtefulle billedvevene. Scandinavian Academic Press.

Vedeler, M. (2014). Silks for the Vikings. (Ancient textiles series, vol. 15). Oxbow books.

Wang, M. (1983). Ruteåkler. Universitetet I Bergen.




Hvordan referere

Eriksen, Åse. (2021). Patterned Silk Weaving in Ancient Times : A Study of Some Silks from Central-Asia Found in the Viking Area . FormAkademisk - forskningstidsskrift for design og designdidaktikk, 14(2).