pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
[personal profile] pearl
I had somehow completely missed this, but the Museum Gustavianum at Uppsala University has had a series of online presentations for an exhibition called Bucklor på behagen – vikingatida kvinnodräkt berättar (Buckles on Bosoms: A Viking age women’s costume speaks). It appears the exhibition curator was Annika Larsson, though it appears other researchers were involved.

(The URL doesn't seem to be working right this moment, is it working for anyone else?)

In any case, it seems to give us a better idea of how she came to her conclusions regarding the open fronted dress interpretation she is now infamous for.

Part 1: Vikingatida kvinnodräkt berättar/ A Viking age women’s costume speaks [PDF]

Part 2: Siden från andra sidan jorden/ Silks from across the globe [PDF]

Part 3: Välkommen på maskerad: Klänning med släp. / Welcome to the Masquerade: Dress with Train. [PDF]

Part 4: Bland ben och bestar / Among bones and beasts [PDF]

Part 5: Var vikingarna blonda och blåögda?/ Were the Vikings blond and blue-eyed? [PDF]

Part 6: Speglar gravarnas dräkter verkligen den vikingatida kvinnans vardag? För bättre förståelse görs jämförelser med mansgravar./ Are the burial costumes really a reflection of the Viking Age woman’s everyday life? Comparisons are made with male graves to reach a better understanding. [PDF]

If I am following the arguments being made (albeit in a minimalist-text slideshow), then her argument is that the paired oval brooches are only found in the wealthiest graves (part 1 p. 9)

Part 3 is probably the most pertinent, though, as it spells things out clearly:

"Our hypothesis is that the clothing found in Viking Age female graves was a ceremonial dress. There are no
archaeological finds to support the theory that the dress represented moderate everyday clothing.... Recently, an archaeological find of a Viking Age female outfit was discovered in Western Russia. The outfit
consisted of an outer dress made of patterned silk in red and blue. To the outer dress belonged oval brooches, typical for the Vikings. Close to the body was a shift made of blue linen cloth. The shift had an
opening on the chest and was tied at the neck with a ribbon. The shift gathered at the neck-line. In the Birka female graves, blue linen cloth has also been found. There were lined cuffs found with the dress,
made from silk with a red bottom layer, and decorative ribbons cut from patterned silk. The outer dress was also embellished with exquisite lace from gold or silver thread."

Page 4 of the PDF is a stunning, and clear, illustration showing just how the Pskov "sarafan" was interpreted, with the taller panel pleated, and draped at the back.

Part 6 is also useful for illuminating how the open, trained garment is interpreted from "valkyrie" images, as unlike Bau's older interpretation the decoration at the front of the figures is not seen as evidence for a front panel, but is the gown worn underneath. Describing the Hårby valkyrie (mis-IDed as coming from Tissø) as:

"Several Viking Age depictions show weapon-carrying persons clothed in female burial costumes. The upper dress is open at the front and consists of a silk material with a bold pattern. A pleated shift can be glimpsed. This “female figure” carries a sword and a shield."


"The burial costumes of the boatgraves were part of the pre-Christian norms.

Our own time’s concept of dress conventions are built on Christian beliefs and cannot be used for interpretation. Christian law forbade the use of skirts for men. Women were not allowed to wear trousers."

There is also an interesting tidbit hidden in part 1, page 16-17. Boat grave 36 at Gamla Uppsala may have been cast as two shells, then riveted together, which isn't too unusual, but there may be decorative fabric between the two shells, possibly as a contrasting colour to metal.

Part 3 has a lot to chew over, the problem is that it is easy to think of rebuttals to the arguments presented, but because the PDFs are so sparse of information, it's hard to know why those conclusions are being drawn.

Date: 2015-01-15 02:58 am (UTC)
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathyr19355
Hi! Good to see you posting here again--and about my favorite subject at that!

Yes, the link to the main page with the PDF slide show is still not working, but your links to the various subparts are.

I've only had the chance to look at Part 3 so far, but already it's told me something important. Larsson based her reconstruction not just on the Pskov grave 3 find, but upon boat grave find 36 from Valsgarde. Is that reasonable? I have no idea, because I know nothing about Valsgarde boat grave 36. But at least it shows that she wasn't hallucinating about the precious metal thread.

That being said, I'm still less than impressed with the accuracy of the references about the Pskov find:

* "The outfit consisted of an outer dress made of patterned silk in red and blue." Nope; it was *trimmed* with patterned silk--the apron dress itself was clearly made from linen.

* "There were lined cuffs found with the dress, made from silk with a
red bottom layer, and decorative ribbons cut from patterned silk." I'm not sure what "lined cuffs" means, though I'm inclined to give her a pass here; if you don't think the shift/undergarment was trimmed with silk on the sleeve-ends, you might conclude that the finds that look like sleeve ends were (possibly) lined cuffs.

Then there are the references that are not linked to a specific find:

* "The outer dress was also embellished with exquisite lace from gold or silver thread." Certainly the Pskov outer dress was not, but this might refer to the Valsgarde boat grave find.

I'm encouraged by the statements in part 3 that the Valsgarde finds are being "documented, analyzed and catalogued." If they are as ornate as the slideshow says they are, I want to know more about them!

Date: 2015-01-15 03:27 am (UTC)
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathyr19355
By the way, I have seen at least one vendor who sells two-layer brooches with a colored layer of silk between them; they must be inspired by the Valsgarde grave 36 brooch find.

However, I'm skeptical that this is what the find indicates. The slideshow says "Through the holes in the pattern of the brooches upper layer remnants of something that could be fabric is visible." However, the Vikings used fabric when they were casting brooches, too, so it seems to me that what appears to be visible inside the Valsgarde brooch is either 1) a fabric imprint left by the casting process, or 2) a tiny fabric remnant, left by the casting process. I think it might be possible to get enough information to rule in or out the possibility of a colorful underfabric as a Viking fashion detail with microscopy. If the fabric remnant is linen, chances are the fabric remnant is an accidental casting vestige, and not an intended part of the brooch. If it's silk or fine wool, however, perhaps it was put between the layers deliberately, to add a spice of non-metallic color to the design.

Date: 2015-01-17 04:49 am (UTC)
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathyr19355
Whether it's Gamla Uppsala or Valsgarde (and my sense of Swedish geography is so poor I don't clearly know what region each name refers to), my underlying point is the same--Larsson is relying not just upon the Pskov find but upon a Swedish find about which I have no information. I'd like to know more about her other find.

In regards to the "lined cuffs", the Swedish says the same thing (fodrade manschetter), but this may explain why the cuffs on her earlier reconstructed outfit don't look like they're quite attached to the underlying fabric. If she considers them be lined, but not attached to the undertunic (like the padded cuffs from Mammen), that may explain it?

That may indeed explain it. But the Pskov find, whether lined or not, isn't padded. Perhaps the Gamla Uppsala find is? Or perhaps she's presuming any padding has deteriorated in the ground? (That may not be that crazy if the padding was something like down, though I'd expect at least a few traces of feathers to survive.)

Date: 2015-02-10 04:54 am (UTC)
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathyr19355
It turns out I was wrong about what kind of fabric was used to line molds for brooch-making. Anita Malmius researched this issue, you can download her article here:!/menu/standard/file/LA9.Malmius.pdf

The long and short of it is that the evidence shows that wool was used to line brooch molds--NOT linen. Malmius concludes that this is because wool is more stretchy than linen and thus conforms to the mold's shape better.

Date: 2015-03-17 01:31 am (UTC)
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathyr19355
You're welcome! I figured you'd find the article fascinating. I did, somewhat to my own surprise--I didn't think we could discern so much about the fabric used to make brooches from such evidence.

Date: 2015-05-15 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Yey, it's a favorite topic for me, too. I think the illustrations are amazing, especially the photo of the silk front reconstruction from Pskov - lovely!

The whole "pleated" idea for the Pskov dress has been tantalizing to many, as it would provide a good solution for both how wide the dress is and also how badly the silk is pasted together. Taken together with the Koestrup finds, it would also provide a more unified view of the late-period apron dress. However, doesn't pleating leave very obvious punch-marks on the fabric, from the needles and threads used? But upon microscopic examination of the garment, not such traces have been found. The Russian archeologists were also looking for a logical explanation of how such a wide garment would have been worn, but didn't find any evidence to suggest pleating. I think Ms. Larsson is overstating again, but it's nice that she is at least considering the Pskov evidence, unlike many other researchers.


Date: 2015-05-17 06:05 pm (UTC)
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathyr19355
It seems to me that whether pleating leaves marks depends upon whether it's done with needle and thread, or simply with folding and steam/pressure. I don't think stitch marks always show up on archaeological fabric, but we have no reason to believe they wouldn't show up on the Pskov piece. There are other surviving stitch marks on the Pskov piece (in likely loop locations), so it seems likely that any stitched pleating would show up on the piece--and none does.

I'm personally a fan of the idea that the Pskov dress was a wraparound style (with the decorated bib in front), but I can see the problems with that idea also.

I agree that it's good to see Pskov being considered as evidence for apron dress design, even in a flawed way.

Date: 2015-07-30 08:39 pm (UTC)
florentinescot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] florentinescot
According to Wikipedia, Valsgarde is 3km north of Gamla Uppsala


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