Ancient Textiles are rarely found and most of our knowledge comes from drawings or tradition but the incredible finds in the permafrost in the Altai highlands of Siberia, Asia in 1929 was to change how we viewed feltmaking. Excavations yielded felted objects dated to 600-200 b.c. from a grave in Pazyryk.Among other objects of ceramic, wood, leather, gold, furs and textiles were many felt pieces.
Wall hangings, shrouds, coffin linings, boots for men and women, small felt rings to hold round bottomed vessels and outdoor garments.Felt decorations were found on blankets, saddles,bows,bridles,saddle blankets, masks and of course interiors and exteriors of tents.
Where did it all begin?
One of the lovely stories often told in the Yurts travels is about the first felt possibly been made in the Ark. Close confines of many animals on board would have helped the animals shed their thick coats and having no toilets on board they would have urinated on the dropped fibres trampling them as them moved around in their close confines.No one can say if this is true or not but we have the three essential items to make felt - animal fibre - moisture - and - friction.
Thankfully today we use warm water and the quality of our domesticated animal fibre has improved greatly.
Felt has many magical and religious associations for both ancient and modern nomadic peoples.
People are now finding feltmaking to be a very benifical craft for both body and soul in our high tec. modern society.
There are many excellent book about felt history available.
The two suggested below are a good starting point.
The Art of The Feltmaker by Mary E Burkett
Frozen Tombs of Siberia; the Pazyryk Burials of Iron Age Horsemen by Sergei I Rudenko
There are many more modern books now available even in local bookshops and libraries.
See our link page for International Feltmakers Association web site..a good place for information on contemporary feltmaking.