Tapestries are a form of textile art and have been woven for hundreds of years in diverse cultures. Most weavers used warp thread such as linen or cotton and the weft threads were usually wool but may include silk, gold or silver threads too. European weavers have produced tapestry for centuries, ancient Egyptians used to bury dead in tapestry, Greeks have used them to cover wall of important buildings and it was a status symbol among the aristocracy in the Middle-Ages. Some samples of Greek tapestry have been found preserved in the desert of Tarim Basin dating from the 3rd century BC.
Medieval weavers extracted their dyes from plants and insects in a range of less than twenty colours and produced images of Biblical stories, myths, and scenes of nobles hunting.
Medieval and Renaissance weavers used to produce this work of art using a working drawing and weaving by hand but during the French Revolution a positive development was the invention of the Jacquard mechanical loom. It processed perforated cards which fed the coloured yarns to the shuttle. This invention enabled tapestries to become accessible to a wider market.
Tapestry reached a new stage in Europe in the early 14th century with a wave of production in Germany and Switzerland. Over the time this craft expanded to France and Holland. The industry specialised in fine wool tapestries which were sold to decorate palaces and castles all over Europe. Few of these tapestries survived the French Revolution because hundreds of tapestries were burnt to recover the gold thread that was often woven into them. The basic tools have remained much the same since then. Now this craft if practiced by hobbyist mostly. Today most of the tapestries are machine made but very few are hand-woven. Most of them are reproductions of old art work. The use of computers have reduced the time involved in production, now the computerised Jacquard process have made tapestries a work of fine art by few artists but much skill and experience is still required.