Quilt history goes back a very long time from Ancient Egypt through the Middle Ages up until today not only in Europe but also in many other cultures. During these periods quilting appears to have been used primarily for clothing. Due to fabrics not surviving well over many years historians have looked at paintings, literature and sculpture to learn about the history of quilts.

Below I have outlined a very brief summary of the history of quilting. I have to admit that I prefer creating history by making my own quilts rather than researching the past.

The oldest discovery, 5,500 years ago (35th century BC) is of an ivory carving, featuring the king/Pharaoh of the Egyptian First Dynasty wearing a mantle/cloak that appears to be quilted. It was found in the Temple of Osiris at Abydos in 1903 and is currently in the collection of the British Museum.

There are rare examples of old quilts. One preserved quilt is a Sicilian wall hanging and was made in the 14th century. It is estimated to have been made about 1395. It portrays the legend of Tristan. This beautiful piece of art was made using quilting with trapunto (stuffed quilting) on solid white fabric. It is displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.

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