databas cerddi guto'r glyn


Damask refers to a special technique in weaving which was first developed in Italy and Spain. The name comes from the city of Damascus in Syria, a very important centre of silk-weaving in the Middle Ages. To produce a damask cloth, different weaving techniques are used to create a material with various figures or patterns within the weave. In this period, makers mainly experimented with silk and satin woven cloth, but combinations of any type of cloth could be used. A damask pattern is usually very shiny because of the various weaves within the fabric, especially if silk is used.

It was possible to use different colours within the weave of a damask cloth and there are numerous examples of colourful medieval damask at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Saying that a patron wears damask is a common method in fifteenth-century poetry of designating high status. Guto’r Glyn refers to the servants of Sir Walter Herbert wearing damask, Mae damasg am dy iowmyn ‘Your attendants are dressed in damask’ (poem 27.41). A common comparison is to say that a patron is as bright as a diamond in damask, a reflection on how bright and shiny damask cloth was in this period.[1] Damask seems to have formed part of the purse Guto received from Catrin daughter of Maredudd of Abertanad. According to Guto, his velvet purse had an additional small pouch which was of damask:

Melfed ym, molaf y daith, 
A damasg i’m cydymaith. 
a velvet one for me and one made of damask for my companion,
I’ll praise the journey.

(poem 87.45-6)


[1]: See, for example, A.C. Lake (gol.), Gwaith Huw ap Dafydd ap Llywelyn ap Madog (Aberystwyth, 1995), 18.27-30.
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