Dyers from the Tratatto dell'Arte della Seta

These images are from an Italian manuscript of the mid to late 15th century that describes all steps of the silk manufacturing process. The manuscript focuses on dyeing silk thread and yarn more than the dyeing of whole lengths of cloth, and the images reflect this.

In the first picture, silk is dyed in a kettle resting on a tripod over an open fire. The man to the left pinches his nose as they both stir the pot with large sticks. The man to the right is wearing a spattered half-apron as well as pattens (which may or may not be worn to save his shoes from staining.)

In the second image, silk is being hung on rods in a vat (most likely a mordanting vat) to the left. The vat is fed by an enclosed furnace, similar to that shown in the previous images. The silk is taken from the vat to a box at the right, where it is rinsed.

In the third picture, the silk skeins are taken from their resting place in a box on a table to the dye vat to the left. The dyer wears an apron, and handles the silk thread with sticks. There are many, many more pictures of dyeing in this manuscript; these three are simply representative.

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