Weaving tool photos (Greenland)

Doreen Gunkel

These photos were taken at the National Museum of Greenland.

Most items excavated during the long history of archeological exploration on this island had been removed to the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. As the Island of Greenland has been culturally developing, compromises have been struck that have allowed many of the items taken to Copenhagen to be returned.

One of these developments is the National Museum of Greenland. It has a superb archive section as well as wonderful exhibit areas.

Danish Museum number 10580, commonly known as the Greenland Gown, was one of these returned items.

I will not be showing any photos of this item at this time, nor of the small bits of textile. As of yet, I have not finished my examination of them and they will be included in an upcoming piece of research.

In this batch of photos you will find many items that were included in Woven Into The Earth (WIE) by Else Ostergard. I will try to identify them and the page number as I present each photo.


Needles of various sizes, needle/awl sharpeners, awls (or stilettos), and weaving pins. More information, WIE (Ostergard) Pg. 111-11

There are many items in this case, but the primary one that I am referencing is the loom beam in the back. This was found at the Farm Beneath the Sand along with several others.


Left side weaving beam from GUS. The corresponding photo and information is in WEI (Ostergard) on Pg 59. Full specifications on this item are on Pg 58-60.

This is the other side of the weaving beam found at GUS. The beam was almost intact with only a small bit of the left end broken off. It was recovered though it was not displayed.

I would also like to bring your attention to the lower right corner of the photo. Yes, these are shoe maker’s lasts. There was no indication why they were displayed in case.

20150506_102324_right side_weaving beam

Right side of weaving beam from GUS. The corresponding photo and information is in WEI (Ostergard) on Pg 59. Full specifications on this item are on Pg 58-60.

In the back of the photo you can see a whale vertebrae that was fashioned into a stool that may have been used to assist in weaving. To the left next to the stool are three partial weaving swords. To the front of the weaving beam is a pile loom weights.


Whale bone sword beaters in the back left of the photo. WIE (Ostergard) Pg 56. Front center shows loom weights found at GUS. WIE (Ostergard) Pg 55. Back center is a whale vertebrae stool possibly used to stand on during the weaving process. WIE (Ostergard) Pg 58-60.

There will be more about loom weights and textiles coming up in future work, some in this blog and some in research writings.

In the next posts, I will be sharing many museum treasures that may or may not have anything specific to do with textiles. I can promise an interesting post next week dealing with spindle whorls and various spindles.

The story of the journey will also continue. I hope you all will come back and see what else we discovered on the trek to find the Greenland Gown.

Be Well,


7 thoughts on “Weaving tool photos (Greenland)

  1. marianne tóvinnukona

    The shoe lasts are exhibited because they were found at Gården under Sandet, a farmstead inhabited from ~ 1000-1350. There is a shoe sole next to the lasts, and some of the awls may well have been used for making shoes.
    I do not think the whale bone was used to assist in weaving since weaving on a WWL involves a lot of walking back and forth. I think it was used to sit on when milking cows, sheep or goats. Until recent times Icelanders sometimes used cows’ or horse skulls as milking stools.

    kær kveðja
    marianne tóvinnukona

  2. Panth

    Fascinating. Thank you for taking such excellent photos and providing such good, detailed descriptions of them.

    Regarding the whale bone weaving swords. Do you know if they are actually bone or if they are “whalebone” (i.e. baleen)? Thanks!

    1. Greenland Gown ProjectGreenland Gown Project

      Thank You Panth!

      I loved having the opportunity to take these photos so that I could share them with everyone.

      The whale bone beaters are made from real whale bone. Baleen would not have the strength nor density to hold up to the force of the work compacting the weft threads. Most bone beaters I have seen photos of and the one I was privileged enough to handle in Norway are made from the ribs of the whales. The ribs give a very good density and heft.

      The beater I handled is pictured in Twill and Tabby Weaving on the Warp Weighted Loom By Anttoinette Merete Olsen on Pg 52. Through out this chapter there is much good information on the topic of sword beaters. The link to her website is http://www.warpweightedloom.com/


  3. Ringwar

    Hi there,
    I am pleased you are both home safe and sound. I have been watching your photos and thought of the joy this trip must have brought you both.
    I can not believe how expensive food is over there.
    I look forward to seeing more photos and your written information.

    Your friend

    1. Greenland Gown ProjectGreenland Gown Project

      Hi Ringwar,

      Please forgive the amount of time it has taken my to respond. It has been a bit hectic picking up the reigns again here at home.

      Thank you for your well wishes. And Yes… I could not believe the cost of food in Norway. It almost bankrupted us.

      I have many many pictures to share. I am glad of digital photography because the cost of film and then developing it would have bankrupted us a second time and I would have such a hard time showing them.

      Be well,


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