panfila

Not a queen, nor a goddess, nor a mythical or mystical figure: our Women's Wednesday this time is dedicated to a completely normal Greek woman, Pamphila!

Living on the island of Kos, Pamphila was the first woman to ever spin silk on a distaff, in addition to inventing the technique used to create a usable thread from cotton wool and then weaving from it. Her role as an inventor is described by both Pliny the Elder and Aristotle himself: upon reporting her story, Boccaccio remarks how the act of invention always says a great deal about the inventor's creativity and great intellect, no matter how easy that invention could now appear years (or centuries) later.


“Pamphila”, illumination from the manuscript “Des cleres et nobles femmes”, ms. Spencer Collection 033, f. 22r, ca. 1450, The New York Public Library.

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