söndag 31 januari 2016

Waiting for bezants

Bezants, that is metal ornaments attached to clothing (or other stuff)  were popular in the Middle Ages and the 13th and early 14th centuries are no exception. Ever since reading about clothes decorated all over with bezants or spangles in the High Middle Ages, ten years ago or so, I've wanted to made a gown with metal ornaments all over.

Well, someday it would happen. This is the gown waiting to be decorated (and lined, after all the bezants are in place). It's from fairly thick wool and has, as you can see wide 7/8 sleeves, showing that I will wear a cotte with tight sleeves under it.

Since I don't have the money to custom order anything, nor the skill or equipment to make my own bezants I ordered these charms to use.

The heraldic arms that I use in the SCA have white cinquefoils on a green background so I thought that it would be fitting. Since they only have one loop to sew through they will move when I do. This was probably not the most common in period, since all preserved examples that I have seen which are still attached to fabric are attached firmly at several points. There are however many examples of leaves, and other shapes hanging loosely from bezants, and from clasps and pins, so I feel that fluttering floweres aren't that far away from period practice.

I intend to place them in groups of three. While I'm sure that the popularity of this grouping of dots in manuscripts from the period more reflects a pretty way to make patterns than actual garments depcited, the fact that it was so common ought to also reflect a period sense of what was pretty.

However, since they are on their way to me from China just now I can't do more than sew the gown and its cream thin wool lining, which I have done, and collect period images of bezants.

So, here are some:

Finds from London 1300-1500. Note the hanging leaves.

From Bildindex.de, that somewhat hard to navigate treasure trove, there are several images to be found.

Bezants with loosely hanging leaves, same garment

Quite a few five-petaled flowers there too:

söndag 24 januari 2016

13th-early 14th century hair options (for women)

One of the things that I really like about the 13th-early 14th century are the many varied ways to wear you hair - and headwear. Contrary to popular ideas hair was not always totally cover4d, not even on married women. I've written some about it on the page about my 13th century outfit with a Barbie pink gardecorps, but I thought that it would be nice with a blog post which focuses on this and show some more period examples.

Unmarried women
I'll start with (presumably) unmarried women, who are often seen with their hair hanging or, much more rarely, braided.

Braid with gold ribbons and a circlet from the end of the 13th century, ow maybe her hair is just wrapped in ribbons and not braided. In any case it's not hanging loosely.

 Lausanne, Bibliothèque Cantonale et Universitaire U 964 - Biblia Porta fol. 178r

On of the young women ion this awesome French 13th century image of the Devil tempting both sexes to have fun  same-sex sexuality, also has a single braid or possibly unbraided hair wrapped in ribbons.

Wavy/slightly curly hair was popular. Here with a circlet. ca 1300.

Here we see mother and daugher, showing the difference between a married woman with her chin strap and fillet and the daughter with a circlet in gold, tied with red ribbons.

Loose hair and circlets in France c 1250.

It is of course hard to be sure about the marital status of all these women, but this woman wearing a hairnet is also probably unmarried, like her friends, since she's wearing only a circlet with her hairnet. It appears that the white wavy fillet and chin strap was a thing for married women.

And don't be fooled by all the women with white fillets and/or veils being courted by knights - adoring a married woman was a thing in Courtly Culture. (A book tip: Courtly Culture by Joachim Bumke, a German historian. It is really,really good.)

This image show the death of Nabal and what I presume is his wife and daughter, indicating that the white cap today mostly referred to as the St. Birgitta cap, was worn also by unmarried women. You also see that already in France c. 1250 married women wore a chin strap and fillet with loose hair under it.

But, really, "everyone" already knows that unmarried women wore their hair uncovered in the Middle ages. The most interesting thing may be the image of the woman at the top with her hair braided in one single braid. This is not a style that we generally associate with the 13th and early 14th century, and one that I will get back to now that I turn to the married women.

Married women
I promised myself that this post wouldn't be about veils, so I will try to refrain from showing images just because I like the veils, filelts or chin straps. there has to be some hair too.

We have already seen that a white fillet, often with a wavy or decorated edge (I write more about that here) was worn by many women together with either a chin band/barbette, or maybe a Birgitta cap under it; the image above could for instance show a cap insted of a strip of linen. On the other hand there are written sources telling about long strips of linen, called gebende, wound many times around the head (Bumke 2000 p 152) and the image may well show this instead.

This is a lovely detail shot of Markgrafin Uta from the Naumburg cathedral, showing her wide gebende decorated with gold, but also some of her wavy hair at the temples.

A much less well-known figure from the same cathedral is countess Gerburg von Brehna. She's not as pretty, but she has a braid!

So, like Uta she has a crown with a pill box cap, a gebende  wrapped around her head, and wavy hair showing at the temples, but, since we can see her from the side we also see that she has a single braid hainging down her back.

Furthermore, if you look at my favourite of the Naumberg ladies: the happily smiling Reglindis you see that she also probably has a hanging braid.

Oh, what I would give for a side view of Uta's head :)

Narrower chinstraps were worn with a fillet and hanging hair as you have seen in the example of the motehr and daughter from the Grosse Heidelberger Liederhandschrift above. The Weingartner Liederhandschrift, which is contemporary to it, but much less fancy seem to favour a slightly...sloppy approach to the white linen fillet.

You also find many examples of hanging hair under a veil in the Grosse Heidelberger Liederhandschrift.
With veil and a circlet on top of it.

And another one:

And one with a pink veil draped over what appears to be a gold coloured band of some kind.

No chinstraps as you can see on these images, but veils indicating married status anyway.

Hair nets came in many colours, and were frequently worn with chinstrap and white fillet.
Two examples from the Murthly Hours, a French mansucript fro the 1280s, show a green and a blue net respectively. And we also see that while prossibly shaped it is defintiely not a cap the woman with the green hairnet is wearing, which makes it less likely that it's a cap in the image of Nabal's death from the Maciejowski bible, since it looks just the same, except that we can't see the top of her head.

Detail from fol 6 recto

This is a gorgeous manuscript, which can be seen in its entirety at the web site of the national Library of Scotland. Lots of inspiration for illumination there.

Another be-netted, fillet wearing...snake. From MS K26 at St.John's College, Cambridge.

And a Norwegian early 14th century example, showing decorated hairnet, chin strap and fillet.

So, hairnets are definitely an option, for married as well as for unmarried women - there are also quite a few of them preserved.

This one is from the church of St. Truiden in Belgium, dated to the 13th century (link to museum site):

And the same goes for this one, from the cathedral of St. Paul (link to museum site).

As you see, they are first knotted and then embroidered.

I'm ending this post with an image from the Rheims Missal 1285-1297, showing maybe a "Birgitta cap" with a fillet with wavy or dagged edge and a gebende. And wavy hair at the temples.

måndag 18 januari 2016

Clothing in Isabella de Bruce's trosseau from 1293

As I wrote in my previous post there are several examples of coordinated otufits, or sets of clothing in the 1293 list of the trosseau of Isabella de Bruce, bride to be of the king of Norway. There's also lots of bedding, cups, candlesticks, pieces of cloth of gold, furniture, chests and two small crowns to be found in the document.

 Here my main interest is, however, the clothing and we find:

* “Videlicet vna roba de scarleto Bruneto tunica. supertunicale sine [manic]is [mante]llum capucium et capa.

* Item alia Roba de blueto. tunica. duo supertunicalia scilicet vnum clausum, aliud apertum. mantellum clausum et capucium . . . .

* Item alia Roba de scarleto murreto. tunica. duo supertunicalia, vnum clausum aliud apertum, capucium et capa furrata. 

* Item alia Roba de albo camelino. tunica. supertunicale sine manicis, campucium et capa furrata et mantellum, et est ista Roba furrata sindone forti.

Et omnes alie Robe de minuto vario, excepto mantello de blueto quod est furratum de grosso vario.”

 That is:

* A set of clothes (roba) of brown scarlet consisting of a cotte/kirtle, a sleeveless surcoat, hood and cloak (capa). As you can see the word mantellum is not complete, and it is doubtable if this is the correct interpretation, since it would be somewhat strange with two types of cloak in the set. Maybe the “-llum” is instead some kind of attribute of the hood.

* Another set of clothes (roba) made of blue (most likely a woollen cloth), consisting of a cotte/kirtle and two surcoats, one closed, one open. Here we must again speculate, but it probably means that one of them is open like a coat while the other one is put on over the head, and a lined hood and cloak.

* Another set of clothes (roba) made of murrey scarlet again consisting of a cotte/kirtle and two surcoats, one closed, one open, and a lined hood and cloak.

* Another set of clothes made from white cameline. What cameline was have been debated; Stella Mary Newton claims in Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince, a very good costume history book from 1980 – highly recommended – that it is a wool fabric of the same colour as the camel's fur, which would be reddish brown. But that doesn't seem to be the case here, since the cameline is white, though “white” could in the Middle Ages also mean “undyed”, in which case we're back to the reddish brown. Oxford English Dictionary says that it is a fabric either made of, or purported to be made of, camel's hair; and possibly the same fabric as camlet. In any case both were costly fabrics.        Not only the main fabric, but also the lining was exotic in this outfit, because it was lined with sindon fortis, and while fortis means strong, the word sindon originates in the Babylonian words sindhu and the ancient Greek sindon, both words for cotton,and connected to the geographical name India (Crill, Rosemary (ed.), The fabric of India, V&A Publishing, London, 2015, p 140). However, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as very fine and even woven linen. Since what characterized cottons and what made them so desireable in both Asia, Africa and Europe where the fine thread and even weave (as well as the colourfast dyes, but that's mostly a later story), so it is not unreasonable that the prestigeous name of sindon was transferred to a fine linen weave.
    So it appears that this suit or set of clothes, which consisted of a kirtle/cotte, a sleeveless surcoat, a cloak and a hood, were of a lighter wool or wool blend fabric with a cotton or linen lining – as summer suit, that is!

 Apart from the cameline clothes lined in cotton or linen all these garments were lined with miniver (minuto vario), except the blue cloak, which was lined with gris, or vario grosso. Miniver is, as you probably know the bellies of the winter coat of the arctic squirrel: white with a rim of grey around it – the pattern that we see stylized as fur in heraldry, and in medieval art, such as the lining of the cloak in the13th century illumination below. Gris, or vario grosso, is the grey backs of the same animal.

More stylized vair on Edward the Confessor's cloak. Cambridge University Library. Lots of grey (blue) backs here.

Miniver lined surcoat, very little grey.

From a manuscript from the 1280. it is supposed to be from a manuscript of the Somme le Roi (Royal collections of Virtues and Vices) at the British library, but I can't find it there. The date seems to be right, judging from the style though.

 So this was the inspiration when I made my suit of murrey wool, consisting of a cotte/kirtle, a sleeveless surcoat, a surcoat with sleeves, a hood and cloak (capa). Which still needs to be photographed properly.

Par vestimentorum – a set of clothes

When working on my dissertation, where I examined clothing in Norwegian and Swedish wills and other documents from the Middle Ages, I found several examples of sets of clothes of matching materials and colours, intended to be worn together. Two of the terms that were used were par vestimentorum/par vestium and robam integram.

The most common of these is par vestimentorum or par vestium. Exactly which garments these contained is seldom mentioned. It is only one will where it is explicitly stated which garments made up the set: Ragnild Hinzadotter's will from 1350 (it can be read here). In this par vestimentorum a lined cloak, a cotte (tunica) and a colobium with arm clasps. A colobium is an over garment, but apart from that we do not know much about it (there is also an early medieval liturgical garment with this name, but it is unlikely that this garment would be that, since it's as late as 1350 and owned by a woman). Since this one had clasps to close the sleeves it at least appears to have had sleeves that were tight at the wrists.

Robam, or robam integram are less common terms in the Scandinavian material, but appear to have similar meaning. Roba could of course refer to a singular garment, the long garment worn by men in religious orders and by academics from the 13th century onwards. In a Norwegian will from 1381 the roba, is however described as consisting of a brown cotehardie lined with buckram, a cloak with blue lining and a hood (the will can be read here). The term robam integram of course shows that there were more than one garment involved – for example the blue robam integram lined with vair which the canon Germund willed to his servant Haquin, together with a cloak and hood in the same colour. Form the way it is written we understand that the cloak and hood were not part of what was meant with robam integram in this case, but added to it. My guess is therefore that this set of clothes consisted of a cotte and surcoat (text here).

Here you see st. Damian in a red cotte with a matching red over tunic, a set which might have been described as a roba integra or par vestimentorum. From a manuscript of Legenda Aurea from 1348, now in the Bibliothéque Nationale Français.

In this late 14th century illumination from the Grandes chroniques de France, Bibliothèque Nationale, Fr.73, f°163, it is the king Louis II who wears a matching cotte and surcoat.

 At other times not all garments that made up a par vestimentorum or a robam integram are mentioned, but there is enough variation to see that it was not a fixed set, but could vary; for exampel sometimes hoods were included, other times not. However, what is clear is that when colour and materials are given that these were the same for all the garments included.

 Another source to what a set of clothes could mean is the list of what Isabella de Bruce brought to Norway in 1293 where she was to marry the king Erik Magnussön. This inventory is what inspired me to make my own roba from murrey wool, consisting of a cotte, two surcoats, one with sleeves and one without, a cloak and a hood. You can see a very informal photo taken in my kitchen yesterday showing the cotte, sleeveless surcoat and cloak below. Isabella's inventory can be found online here, and I will get back to it in a later post too – for those of you who aren't crazy about reading documents in Latin.

lördag 16 januari 2016

And a murrey sleeved surcoat for good measure

While going through my 13th-early 14th century garb I decided to iron some really wrinkly stuff and document it. This one is actually a part of a set of clothing, all in the same material, consisting of a cotte, a sleeveless surcoat, a cloak and a hood, but I have never taken photos of them worn together (well, obviously not the two surcoats at the same time) and I didn't have the energy to do so today, since the cloak is packed down somewhere else. I hope that I will remember to do this in spring.
Here you can see the cotte, cloak and hood, though not worn together.

Anyone understanding Swedish and interested in the phenomenon of sets of clothes from the same material, intended to be worn together, can have a look at pp 122-126 in my dissertation  (downloadable pdf, free). I plan to write about it here on the blog too, later on.

But, here is today's photo, meaning that it's only the sleeveless surcoat that hasn't been photographed some time :)

A new, striped and lined veil and a blue cotte

So, I actually made one of those striped and lined veils that I have been going on about here in the blog. I even ironed and put on one of my old cottes (not previously shown here) and took photos. The page for it is here, where you get some more info on how I made it and the like.

onsdag 13 januari 2016

My 16th century silk stockings are finished!

Photo proof.
Posing in a smock and on a piee of fabric that eventually will become part of a 15th century Italian gown.

They were started in July 2015 (you can read more about the pattern I used etc, if you follow the link), but I have made so many other things since then that it took a while to finish them.
Which, naturally, led to them being slightly different in the foot, since i had forgot exactly how I did last time. But since I plan to wear shoes with them that shouldn't matter much. And also, with such fine thread it is hard to make out the stiches unless you look really closely.

Pattern by Anne des Moines.

torsdag 7 januari 2016

Fancy braies

OK, so I may have lied in my previous post, claiming that I showed my favourite 13th century images of underwear - but that was before I really sat down and studied the Trinity Apocalypse.

Now these are my favourite images of braies at least:

Dots and stripes, oh my!

Another thing that strikes you when looking at the many depictions of braies and hose in this manuscript is how many men there are that wear hose that reach just to, or just above, the knee.

Some of my favourite images of 13th century underwear

Well, since I'm going to make more 13th century stuff, and I have a male friend who also needs to make 13th century clothing I thought that I'd start with my favourite images of 13th century underwear.

First, the preserved stuff: St. Louis and

Close-up of neck:

I love the shape you get from the St. Louis pattern, which can be found in Dorothy Burnham's 1970s book Cut my cote (which I have in Swedish: Skjortor, särkar och blusar : traditionella mönster från hela världen : historik och tillskärning), or from Marc Carlson's webpage "Some Clothing of the Middle Ages, here.

Since most garments of this period are unisex I made my most recent shift from the St. Louis pattern.

And reincorced the neck with this lovely vintage twill linen ribbon

Next time I will make the loser sleeves narrower to fit better under tight undersleeves, but it works just folding them too.

Louis had a sister, who also had underwear apparently: The shift of Isabella de France, from Kostym.cz

Here's a Spanish female shift, which once belonged to Dona Teresa Gil, who died in 1307.

I haven't seen any pattern drawings from this one yet, but that may be because my Spanish is non-existent.

That was the preserved examples. When it comes to depictions of underwear I can't post all of course, hence the word "favourite" in the post's title.

Women in underwear are even more rare than naked women, but here's one from the Maciejowski Bible, in bed after giving birth.

Photo from Medieval Tymes

This a recent favourite: Lancelot, escaping in his underwear after being tricked into sleeping with Sir Pelles daughter Elaine (that's how Galahad was made). Add. Ms 5474 fol 150v, last quarter of the 13th century.

And then there's the lovely shirt from Cantigas de Santa Maria:

And a pair of braies from England, from the Trinity Apocalypse, MS R. 16.2, Trinity College, Cambridge:

onsdag 6 januari 2016

More lined veils

This is the one that made me think of lined veils many years ago, from Vagnhärad in Sweden.

Photo: Lennart Karlsson, Medeltidens Bildvärld

As you can see it is made from a white fabric with gold stripes, and lined with red. It is locally made c 1300.

Then there's the treasure trove that is MS K26 at St.John's College, Cambridge - lots of lined veils there.

The Adoration of the Magi, fol 14r - white veil with red lining.

The burial of Mary, fol 24v - white veil, blue lining

The crucifixion, fol 19v - white veil, red lining.

The death of the Virgin Mary, fol 23 v - white veil, red lining

The descent of the Holy Ghost, fol 22r - white veil, red lining

The entombment of Christ, fol 21r - two green veils with red lining

The sickness of the Virgin Mary fol 23r - white(ish) or pinkish veil, green lining

The Visitation fol 11v - two white veils with red lining