Where does the word “tapestry” come from and What does tapestry mean?

The art of decorative weaving seems to have been well developed in many of the Oriental countries long before it was learned in Europe, and Persia, especially, has long been known for the craft of its weavers in turning out fine fabrics.

Thus it is probably from the Persian that the word tapestry stems, though it has been traced with certainty only back to the Greek tapes, “cloth wrought with figures in various colors.”

The diminutive is tapetion, and this was taken into Latin as tappetium or tapetium from which it spread into the Romance languages as tapiz, finally settling in French as tapis.

One who wove such figured cloth was then called, in French, a tapissier, and his products were known, collectively, as tapisserie.

This is the form that was taken into English as the ancestor of our present word, with the spelling tapissery, which spelling was very soon corrupted to that still used.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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