Ancient Roman Glass Distaff


A cylindrical twisted rod of pale green glass, tapering slightly to form a distaff used for spinning wool. A large ring has been formed at the bottom (?), finger-sized for holding. The distaff also features an attached spindle whorl, made from the same coloured glass. The staff ends in a pooled knob of glass, resembling a small bird. Evidence of gilding to some areas of the staff.

Date: Circa 2nd century AD
Condition: Excellent. Some evidence of gilding still visible.


SKU: AH-690 Category: Tags: , , ,

Making cloth in antiquity was not an easy process. The round ring of glass formed at the bottom of this piece allowed the weaver to hold the distaff for long periods of time, her little-finger looping through the ring. The cylindrical spindle whorl also attached would also have been used for support, to rest the top of the finger, also allowing fibres to be drafted over.

Numerous examples of distaffs have been found in a wide range of materials, including glass, bronze, ivory and precious metals. Glass distaffs are more rare due to the fragility of the material, compared with their bronze counterparts.

Weight 20.9 g
Dimensions L 23.5 cm



Reference: For similar: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LA, item reference M.88.129.117

You may also like…