The Perfect Skirt – Conversation with Assunta Perilli
One thing you never ask an Abruzzese weaver is how long that cloth took to weave… Time is not important, it is the quality of the weave that counts. The loom that took up most of the kitchen and provided its background song was a symbol of subsistence, it enabled warmth and comfort, supplied the family’s ‘Sunday Best’ for church and feste, and could provide part of a dowry. Questioning the time taken is like challenging a refugee on having a mobile phone. It’s their loom providing the ability to find work, create and receive money transfers, weave memories together, the ability to be part of society…who knows what they have to juggle to have it.
Today we can appreciate the vibrancy of those colours and patterns thanks to the careful renderings by artists that visited Abruzzo, such as Estella Canziani and her painting of this Mascioni Nonna and child. By the 19th century, synthetic dyes were the source of those hues; the only natural process that remained was the use of walnuts to dye socks. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the softer colours achieved through the use of flora & fauna were once more locally used as dyes.
All skirts were pleated, apart from a linear section of 20-39 cm on which the apron (‘sinal’) sat. A unique hem (‘potera’) was added to the skirt. This band of cotton fabric edged the skirt without a folded hem being needed, so no cloth was lost. This shrewdness says a lot about the daily conditions of life! Skirts would have a series of horizontal, thick stripes at the end of the hem, with often a single coloured fold to inset an ornament or charm.
The Stripes of Mourning
The underskirt would consist of several red horizontal lines that reached up to the knee. A sign of mourning in Campotosto was the loss of your ‘red’ underskirt replaced with purple and green stripes; at the end of mourning, the mezzolutto, a small red line would appear in the skirt.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”35859″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]
Assunta Perilli is one of Abruzzo’s leading weavers, do visit her studio that is located in Campotosto (AQ), and view her selection of stocking presents for Christmas