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samite


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A rich silk fabric interwoven with gold and silver threads, used for dressmaking and decoration in the Middle Ages. In literary use, it is particularly associated with the story of King Arthur; when the sword Excalibur is finally thrown back into the lake, the arm that reaches out of the water to catch and grasp it is clothed in white samite.

The word comes (in Middle English) via Old French and medieval Latin from medieval Greek, and ultimately from Greek hexa ‘six’ + mitos ‘thread’; this may mean that the original samite was woven of thread consisting of six strands of silk.


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