Two beautiful Roman distaffs in coloured glass, both with a tapering, pointed end and at the other end a loop for securing the hold with a finger. Item A is made from an opaque aubergine coloured glass whilst item B is made from a clear light green coloured glass, with some brown-red iridescence to the loop.
A distaff is a tool used in spinning and it’s designed to hold the unspun fibres, keeping them untangled and thus easing the spinning process. For millennia, spinning has been an inherent part of feminine household work.
Distaffs made of various materials, such as glass, wood, bone, ivory or bronze were used throughout the ancient world, especially in areas where wool was common. Given the small size of glass distaffs, such as these ones, it is more likely that they were destined to women’s tombs and had more of a symbolic value than a practical one.
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Period: 1st-3rd century AD