Macramé probably began with 13th century Arabic weavers who knotted excess threads of woven fabrics to create fringe. By the 16th century Italian and Spanish weavers were using it to end their weavings and soon it spread throughout Europe. Even Queen Mary taught macramé to her ladies-in-waiting as a good pastime. But it was sailors who, spending months at a time at sea, found macramé to be a pleasant way to pass their down-time—it used a skill that they already knew (i.e. tying knots) and little of very precious space while they worked on it. Sailors made items for their own use, to give as tokens of love to those at home, and to sell when they reached port.
This is an excellent piece of 19th century nautical handiwork in the form of a macramé bag. It might have been made for the sailor’s own use as a ditty bag but it shows little wear. More likely the sailor made it as a gift or for barter. The bag is beautifully knotted from narrow but strong rope. A dark-colored silk is handsewn into the bag as a liner. While we see color changes in the liner due to age and the fugitive nature of early dyes, the liner is totally intact with no tears or shattering that we can find. The rope is a lovely dark honey color and its drawstring and fringe is all beautifully present. The bag measures 13” long counting the fringe but not the handles. We love antique macramé and have other pieces so please let us know if you are interested.