Production of sea-silk

From byssus to sea-silk: manufacturing process from cleaning to the finished product. Mastrocinque 1928
From byssus to sea-silk: manufacturing process from cleaning to the finished product. Mastrocinque 1928
When recording the tradition of sea-silk craft, it is important to consider that it doesn't treat something static. The individual steps of processing and their meanings have changed over the centuries, depending on the economic, social and cultural environment and have been adapted to local needs and expectations.

Almost everything we know about the harvest of the noble pen shell, the production and processing of sea-silk comes from reports of the 18th, 19th and the first half of the 20th century. The procedures and the instruments used are essentially similar, but show different local forms. Basso-Arnoux (1916) for Sardinia and Mastrocinque (1928) for Taranto give detailed descriptions.



Since so far no antique textiles of sea-silk have been found, we do not know how they were processed. Thus, the question whether woven garments ever existed as mentioned many times cannot be answered. Almost half of all inventoried items is just plain knitted, some with knitted patterns. There are also crocheted objects. By the end of the 18th century, fabrics with woven or embroidered sea-silk ornaments are testified - as the ones that are still produced in Sardinia for illustrative purposes. In the first half of the 19th century fur-like objects of purified fibre beards were also processed.