pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
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.
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
I've been sitting in on Facebook groups for Viking Age dress, (but I've been noticing it on other lists for a while too) and I'm fascinated by the idea, that the moment you add a narrow panel to the front of your apron dress, you're wearing a ceremonial garment.

I'm seriously questioning the belief that every Viking Age image found in a Norse context depicts a woman wearing the 'usual' outfit of apron dress, often with extra lines that are interpreted as front and back panels. And that's before you start questioning the archaeological evidence for such a front panel. Or asking about the rationale that originated the panel...

Sorry... this bothers me.
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)

Charlotte Rimstad. 2008. Vikinger i uld og guld. Speciale. Forhistorisk Arkæologi, Københavns Universitet.
It looks to be her presentation for her MA thesis

(Includes many colour photos of the textiles from the Kostrup find, and Mammen, and a bunch of other finds I've never heard of!)

Sorry, I'd write more, but there is an unconscious kitten sprawled out all over me.
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Apparently the latest issue of Threads magazine has a section on economical pattern cutting which features an 'Viking dress' and (from reading the comments here) a 'bog coat'.

So, anyone have a subscription and seen a copy? Is it any good? (I'm not keen on ordering it online when the postage costs more than the magazine issue itself.)
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
If I've interpreted Ewing correctly in Viking Clothing, then he thinks the women at Birka may have worn a half-circle cloak. It's entirely possible that I haven't understood his arguments at all, given his tendency for rather vague sentences, but it's the most logical conclusion I can make about his work.

Figuring out what Ewing means )

Circular mantles? )

footnote )
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
So, there's this stone carving, that Ewing thinks shows a woman, possibly Eve, "in a short suspended dress with paired oval brooches." (p. 45) "No doubt, scholars have shrunk from identifying this as a suspended dress fastened with oval brooches, because of its shortness, but in the light of other evidence for short dresses, this has to be the most likely explanation of the carving." (p. 43)

It's from a cross-shaft at Pickhill, in Yorkshire.
Here's Ewing's picture, here's the only photo I've been able to find, and here's a Victorian-era drawing from 1907.

I can't comment on how accurate Ewing's drawing is, given that I can't find any high-quality pictures of the fragment. But I do think he (inadvertently) constructs his interpretation of 'Eve' more likely to be a suspended dress by not including the remains of the so-called 'Adam' she is next to. Both figures seem to be wearing a tunic/dress of the same mid-thigh height, which seems to be pretty darn short when you compare it to most other artwork. The two circles might just be an attempt at depicting breasts, rather than a short, underdress-less apron dress.

Anyone have better pictures? Or know where to find them?
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Trying to find information about female Viking Age mantles and shawls has produced a couple of interesting avenues I'd probably want to explore later. One of them is the idea that men may have had mantles decorated with studs or 'pearls'.

Read more... )
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Bo Ejstrud, Stina Andresen, Amanda Appel, Sara Gjerlevsen, Birgit Thomsen (2011) From Fax to Linen: Experiments with flax at Ribe Viking Centre (University of Southern Denmark)
ISBN: 978-87-992214-6-2

Very awesome-looking so far. Culminates in calculating to make the Viborg shirt "it would take about 355 hours to make a Viborg shirt. It can also be seen that 21kg of fresh plants must be harvested to make the 753 grams of thread needed to weave the shirt." :)


Mar. 3rd, 2011 06:36 pm
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
This article doesn't seem to appear on Inga Hägg's website, but...

Hägg, I. 2006. Methodische Probleme der Erforschung ur- und frühgeschichtlicher Gesellschaftsstrukturen am Beispiel Birka [PDF] Archäologie 2000: Festschrift für Helmut Ziegert (Hamburg: Books on Demand) pp. 155-185 [159-189 in PDF] ISBN: 3-8334-6736-3.

Even if you're not interested in "Methodological problems of research into prehistoric- and early historic- society structures, for example Birka", I'm willing to bet you're interested in some very nice black and white photos of the wirework posaments, what looks awfully like fingerbraided wirework, little wire animals, cages for holding mica and foiled glass, a silver hat end, and a list of graves with the different hat types...

Weirdly enough, I didn't find it searching for any of those things, I found it while trying to figure out what colour the silk fragments were from grave Bj 824. The answer is "golden-yellow".
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Finally have my own copy of Thor Ewing's Viking Clothing, so instead of just reading bits and pieces I've sat down and read the whole thing. I must say, my first impression still stands: You need to already be familiar with what he is proposing or referring to for the book to make much sense.

But after reading it properly, there is another flaw that may be even more annoying: Not only do you have to know what he is referring to, you often have to construct his argument from what you know, rather than what he says.
I suspect this is -- despite apparently aiming the book at real-life academics who don't dress up on the weekends, given the aim of the book is to apparently spread knowledge, not dress patterns -- that a lot of his arguments are derived from his local Viking Age re-enactor/re-creation scene.

As an example, I'll focus on what I've been thinking about for a while now, the separate and possibly pleated train.
Read more... )

A minor quibble I have, too, is the lack of clear definitions. Once again, assuming the reader already knows what he is talking about.
Without defining his terms at the start, he calls the layer fastened with the tortoise brooches a 'new dress' (p. 25), 'dress' (p.26, 31, 33), 'Viking suspended dress' (p.27), 'suspended dress' (p.29), 'overdress' and 'underdress' (p. 34, both referring to Bj 563), and smokkr (p. 37).

In the middle, he randomly points out that "the so-called 'apron dress'" is only used to describe a layer where "the back and front sections are separated into two distinct pieces", which is probably describing what I'd rudely call a tea towel apron dress, but is vague enough that it could also describe the get-up described by Bau.

Which leads me to conclude that for him (and possibly his local groups), an apron-dress is something specific while there is a whole range of poorly defined garments held up with brooches. So why not select one, simple term at the start and stick to it?
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
I'm sure that Elizabeth Wincott Heckett is an excellent archaeologist, but flicking through Viking Age Headcoverings from Dublin, how can she get the literary comparisons so... weird?

Read more... )
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Had a lightbulb moment yesterday, about what on Earth Annika Larsson's press release, about her rather odd Viking Age dress theory, was saying. It isn't "glittering bits of mirrors," it's glittering bits of mica and glass and gold and gilded leather.

That little gold wirework deer from Birka? Was inlaid with mica. There are little silver wire pendants that act as settings for slivers of shiny mica. Can't find any of them photographed in the Historiska Museet database, so you'll have to settle for a text quote from:

A. Geijer. 1983. 'The Textile Finds from Birka' in Cloth and Clothing in Medieval Europe: Essays in Memory of Professor E. M. Carus-Wilson (Heinemann Educational Books); 80-99.
p. 91-2

"Another kind of stitch was termed Slingenstitch, perhaps retranslatable as 'twined wire technique'. This is unique to the best of my belief.... This technique was used by itself or together with plaiting to make a kind of 'fold' - reminiscent of the setting of a jewel -- for mounting pieces of thin mica, foliated glass, sheets of gold or gilded leather."

So where is the 'mirror' part probably coming from? Foliated glass, where you cover one side of a piece of glass with foil, is how mirrors were made. Apparently backing your glass with gold leaf looks like this. Very shiny, huh? Apparently it's still used by very very rich people for tiling.

pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Really, someone needs to tell me if I'm barking up the wrong tree (or just plain barking mad), because I've been thinking about this since around December last year and it's been sitting in my mind for long enough that it makes sense. I have no idea if it is making sense to anyone else.

Even worse, I can think of (many) 'solutions' and 'tweaks' to the theory, and I'm not sure if it's because I've fallen for my pet theory, or because it is reasonable. So, here I am ranting on the internet about it.

The two biggest issues, I think, when it comes to me and my weird shawl ideas is...
a) the whole unattested-in-the-archaeological-record/differing-theories back cloth (so, Bau says straps. Hägg seems to think straps belong to other things. I'm an unpublished nobody who thinks an 8th century Gotlandic find is very important and is more akin to a second shawl.)
b) Getting the bottom edge of the 'triangular'-looking shawl to match up with the artwork seems to mean wearing it lower on the shoulders than normal, but front-on artwork doesn't seem to show this dropped-shoulder look. I don't have a solution. There is some contemporary Irish artwork of men wearing similar cloaks which might show a bit of distortion at the back, but nothing Norse that has a similar look. Maybe it just comes down to how little we can 'read' from inch-high metal figures?

On the other hand, the second shawl/backcloth (Geijer's 'veil'... and I can find no other mention of Vendel period women wearing veils. Anyone?) does have an unexpected benefit. If you're wearing a shawl lower on your shoulders, you're exposing more of your body to the cold than if you wrapped a shawl around you tightly. That second piece of wool seems to fill in the 'gap' and might keep you warmer, or at least warmer than having no layer there. And if you were using a small square, then you could cover your shoulders and not necessarily show a 'train'.
Photos of me with the funky-folded-rectangular-shawl and narrow scarf )
It's also entirely possible that after the shift in brooch position in the Viking Age from throat to chest level/below the brooches, that something similar might happen with the caftan (like what [ profile] engisdottir shows here), which would also provide extra coverage on the shoulders.

So is everyone just being polite and biting their tongues right now, or am I making something that sounds almost like sense? I know I have a collection of Viking Age interested people reading, I'm curious to know what you think!

(You can comment using open ID and don't need a dreamwidth account you know. I also have 5 or so invite codes to Dreamwidth if anyone wants one.)

pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Apparently, a few years ago, there was a bit of media about Viking Age 'braids of hair wrapped in wood, leather... metal and Viking Age jewellery.'

It turns out, that they're actually 11th-13th century, so early medieval really. The Hull and East Riding Museum says they're "part of Finno Ugrian Culture. Grave goods excavated from a tumulus at Efaefsk (Efaevo), Russia, 1900." And there are fairly interesting photographs online, too.

If you go to their online collection catalogue, search for...

KINCM:2008.6067.75 (leather covered, not wood)
KINCM:2008.6067.76 (no cover, just hair and rings)
KINCM:2008.6067.78 (hair covered in leather, vegetable [f]ibre and textile)
KINCM:2008.6067.80 (a "beard tress"!)
KINCM:2008.6067.81 (just hair and rings)

This should cheer [ profile] cathyr19355 up: KINCM:2008.6067.42, KINCM:2008.6067.55, KINCM:2008.6067.56 and KINCM:2008.6067.58, are "omega brooches." They also have some of the pins with the spiral top that pop up on ebay as so-called Viking hair sticks, too. But haven't seen the style that has perforations and beads threaded through them, though.

According to the museum, in 1905 the British Museum purchased part of the collection, which you can search for using the term 'Efaevo.' No photographs, but more detailed written descriptions.
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Firstly, [ profile] teffania wanted to see what shawls wanted to look like on me, instead of what they looked like on my (comparatively) slim dress dummy.
(Thank-you [personal profile] aslan42 for taking photos and being patient.)

Big photos behind cut )

The other thing, is I'm still trying to figure out the Sandegårda find, and I think [ profile] hlinspjalda may have accidentally provided another piece to the puzzle. See, I couldn't quite figure out how the shawl fragments could have such 'weird' folding, but (most likely, according to guldgubber artwork) look symmetrical, and probably triangular.

Getting close to the answer... )

Ah, how I wish there was more evidence for plaid and striped shawls and cloaks. But they are so effective at showing how fabric drapes on a body. :( And that is a discussion for another time!
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Continuing from my previous ramble, it was noticed by [ profile] teffania that triangular shawls when worn by people, don't look like triangular shawls in artwork.

For example (pictures)... )

There is a perfectly sensible explanation -- triangular shawls may look like triangles when laid out on the ground, but don't on a person -- they're shortest when sitting on the shoulders, and then the hem lengthens to the front. The trick is to somehow get rid of those pesky points at the front.

pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Inspired by [ profile] gargoyal3, who is currently writing a series of posts on images of Viking Age women, and how she has reconstructed their look.

So here goes, Ásfríðr's still-rather-fragmentary-but-looooong thoughts on shawls and trains...

Read more... )
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Why is it that I seem to ask what should be simple questions, but it turns out people want to answer something tangential?

So, maybe this part of the internet might know, are there any other published examples where Viking Age garments have been sewn together with a contrasting-colour thread? (I'm not talking about 'ornamentation' like embroidery, or silk appliques or cords or braids. Just sewing the fabric pieces together. Or hemming.)

Because so far, it looks like there is some evidence from Jorvik and London, and that has been extrapolated to become a Viking world-wide fashion so everyone should have brightly sewn seams. Surely there's more than just that?

Quoting articles of varying quality. )
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
Zierflechte vom Trägerrock aus Haithabu/ Decorative braid from the Heddeby apron dress. -- Experiments in getting the 6-strand plait to look like the diagram in the book, and experimenting in which order the colours are supposed to go in, too.

And another apron dress interpretation: this one has splits in the front from the hip-down and the darts run over the breasts.
(The idea of side splits seems to show up a lot on German websites. Usually from sewing two small rectangles together at the sides. Of course now I try to look for them, I can't find any such pictures. But this is certainly an interesting interpretation!)
pearl: Black and white outline of a toadstool with paint splatters. (Default)
For a while now, I've wanted to know what the Vikings Online people had re-drawn when they made figure 11, with the gold figure from Tuse.

It turns out, that it is from from Trønninge/Kundby, Denmark.

There is a black and white photo on page 122 (page 130 of the PDF) in:

P.R.M. Hupfauf, 2006. Signs and symbols represented in Germanic, particularly Scandinavian, iconography between the Migration Period and the end of the Viking Age. (University of Sydney, PhD Thesis)


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