Traditional textile technology

The traditional, complex and time-consuming textile production was made up of three stages:

1) processing textile raw materials into fibers (textile raw materials of colorful and essential origin are useful: hemp, chain, cotton, wool, silk …),

2) spinning, spooling, dyeing and

3) weaving.


In our region weaving was mainly performed on the horizontal loom, much less on the vertical loom.

  1. Vertical loom

It was much scarcer in our region and was mainly used for making the so-called kilim (rug or carpet) linked to the town of Pirot. In the 20th century, it spread to other kilim/making centers of Serbia – Knjaževac, Sjenica, Nova Varoš, Prijepolje, as well as to Montenegro, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, etc.

The vertical loom is rectangular in shape and composed of left and right vertical beams and upper and lower transversal tube-like bars. The warp was wrapped around the bar, and the weft was pressed with a heavy comb with thick iron teeth. Other parts of loom are those used for closing the gap and nuts for stretching the weft. This type of loom was unable to stand upright on its own and had to be positioned to lean against the wall at a certain angle.

  1. Horizontal loom

The most commonly used weaving apparatus in the cultural region of the Serbs was horizontal loom. Although several varieties were recorded, it may be concluded that its basic elements are: sides of frames used to fixate two beams, the reed and the heddle (most commonly two or four), a part that was placed under the weaver’s feet, a place for sitting and other accessory parts. Before the fabric was made at the loom, it was necessary to prepare the yarn through wrapping and inserting the warp into the heddles and the reed.

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Weaving techniques

Textiles objects were woven primarily on horizontal looms, using plain (flat) techniques, rarely pile techniques. The most common types of weaving in our tradition were weaving in two and four heddles.



The main techniques of weaving in two heddles were interlacement  and tapestry weaving,  while additional techniques were used for decoration- using a piece of wood small heddles, etc.

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Weave in two heddles

The main two-heddle plain (flat) technique is presently known as interweaving, while its folk name was interplacement and the resulting fabric was called- lito, čunčano, nizano… The process included the lifting one heddle while the other was lowered, and the weft was pulled through the resulting gap with the aid of the shuttle.

Another two-heddle technique was tapestry weaving.


It is believed that the technique of tapestry weaving was used for the most luxurious and technically most complicated objects.

This technique was used both on the vertical and horizontal loom, primarily to make woolen objects. It was best represented on carpets, but also on aprons, pillowcases, bags… The pattern was made by pulling the desired yarn thread up with fingers and pushing a small bundle of colored wool underneath. Tapestry woven textile contains a great variety of different color variations and changes to the color of the pattern around the base yarn.

Weaving in four heddles

The structure of the fabric produced by weaving in four heddles was thicker and was used for coarse, thick garments and textile objects, designed to survive the pressure and wear and tear.

Pile techniques

Two-harness pile techniques were used to make woolen fabrics with fur-like surfaces- various blankets, pillowcases and covers for the horse saddles.

The technique of tuft inserting was performed by pulling cut tufts of combed un-spun wool, sometimes called whips, between 2-3 yarns of warp, so that their ends remained free. The best blankets made with this technique are called biljci and jambolije.

The loop technique is considered to have preceded pile weaving. It is necessary to have a wooden stick, metal rod or a needle of appropriate length. The resulting loops include 2-3 yarns in the warp. The loops were used to make individual ornaments or to cover the whole surface of the object.

Pile weaving is a pile technique where the cut threads of yarn are wrapped around two or four yarns of warp, and then the ends are pulled through the middle and tied into a knot.

With all those techniques it is necessary to use the flat or plain technique of pressing, so knots, loops and whips are pressed tightly together and the fabric becomes more compact and stronger.

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