Talk given on 10/4/97 to the Pre-Columbian Society by Sharisse McCafferty, "A Whorl-wind Tour of Cholula Spinning"

On Saturday, October 4, 1997, Sharisse McCafferty
addressed the Pre-Columbian Society of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Her talk, entitled "A Whorl-wind Tour of Cholula Spinning", demonstrated how much can be revealed in the study of mundane objects like spindle whorls.
Cholula has been a pilgrimage center and mercantile
hub since classic times. The fabric produced in Cholula was
woven from a multitude of hand spun materials: yucca fibers,
cattail stems, hemp, hibiscus, kapoc, hair, moth cocoons and
feathers, as well as the standard cotton and maguey fibers.
Ceramic spindle whorls are the major extant remains of the
ancient spinning process, as the organic spindles and fabrics have
decomposed. Study of the thousand whorls found in Cholula
has revealed that there seems to be a greater number of whorls
with larger diameter holes than has been found at other sites.
This would likely indicate that split feathers were spun into
other fibers, as the spinning of feathers requires the use of
a wider diameter spindle to prevent breakage.
The ceramic spindle whorls were usually formed in molds.
They were decorated with several different types of molded or
painted patterns, which were usually floral, geometric, anthropomorphic or zoomorphic in origin. These motifs often
paralleled those found on round shields used by Cholulan
Lynn Matson
Pre-Columbian Society of
The University of Pensylvania Museum

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