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Published: February 28, 2022

Pan-Asian Textile Diversity Evidenced in Oldest Trousers

A team of archaeologists, fashion designers, geoscientists, chemists and conservators, led by project director Mayke Wagner of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin, has discovered that three distinct textile techniques were used on the one garment and that some of these techniques are still in use today. “A diversity of textile techniques and patterns of different local origins, traditions, and times merged into something new in this garment,” Wagner told Science News . “Eastern Central Asia was a laboratory where people, plants, animals, knowledge and experiences from different directions and sources came… and were transformed.”

According to Archaeology, in 2014 the excavation of a tomb in Tarim Basin in western China revealed the mummy of a man wearing trousers. Found alongside an axe, possibly indicating warrior status, the man became known as the Turfan Man. Using radio carbon dating and further scientific analysis, the aforementioned dates were deduced. Since men and women primarily wore skirts and capes, the possibility that these pants were considered for horse riding was drawn.

“They show an unprecedented diversity and a free combination of three weaving techniques and one type of weft twining supplemented by at least three different braiding methods to finish and fasten the clothes,” write the authors of the study. This variety of techniques used to make the trousers emerged from the mobility that pastoralists and herders were accustomed to – they would have to move place to place, and picked up new and different techniques from across the diverse Asian continent, which were then used to make the garments.

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