Long before Jacquard came along, there were Chinese silk looms whose patterns were controlled by card. I didn't know that until I saw this picture from a Chinese book, aka "Illustration of drawloom, 17th century drawloom (Huaji)". (I don't know if the cards were ever held by machines until Jacquard/Vaucanson came along.) "As he [the weaver] throws the weft thread between the warps, the draw-boy (top left) pulls on cards tied to different sets of warp threads which form the raised portion of the brocade."
I still don't know as much about Chinese card looms as I'd like.
When I tried to research it, I didn't find out much. First, I tried
to find out if Jacquard had stolen the idea from China. It appears that
the idea of card-controlled devices in France came from Vaucanson and/or
Bouchon and/or someone earlier than that.
There were some web pages which proudly stated that the Chinese had invented the Jacquard loom (not just card looms, mind you, but the Jacquard loom) around the 2nd century. But they were short on details. Dieter Kuhn wrote a lot about Chinese looms, but he talks about cords instead of cards.
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