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Blogging Kalamazoo 2021 – Session 197 - Dress and Textiles II: Curious Examples

Monday, May 24, 2021 - 20:06

One definite advantage of watching these sessions in recorded form in the comfort of my own home is that I can take the laptop out into the garden and relax in a lawn chair while watching. These papers were all jam-packed full of details and descriptions, which don’t always make for good textual summaries. So this is just a taste of what was offered.

Lucky Charms: Instances of Protective Amulets and Trends in Byzantine Dress - Ms. Angela L. Costello, MA, Independent Scholar

Looks at jewelry and textile motifs used as protective magic, including cross-cultural influences in Byzantine practice. (The paper is being read very quickly, so it will be hard to take notes and listen carefully at the same time.) A special focus is on the “Mati” blue eye-bead against the evil eye that has been used up to the present day. Discusses various pre-Christian motifs that persisted even in the face of condemnation. E.g., coins and pendants of Alexander the Great. Generalized motif of “holy rider” representing various horseback figures. Gorgon motif on amulets used up through the late Byzantine period. Not all motifs appear on textiles, e.g., no examples of Gorgons. Always difficult to tell the intent of such motifs sort of contemporary commentary. Earlier examples may have been considered directly protective, later examples as invoking intermediaries. Cross-cultural innovations in motifs such as the holy rider can make it difficult to clearly identify magical motifs among similar themes – not all riders are “holy riders”. In clothing, even the use of individual colored threads may have magical purpose, e.g., red threads used in specific locations in tunics. Compare other uses of red threads or knots in popular magic. Emperors might wear (or have themselves depicted wearing) clothing evoking the holy rider image to represent a protective presence. Shift in Byzantine fashions to Ottoman-inspired kaftans. (Suggested this is a “protection by imitation” of the encroaching Ottomans?)

How Revealing: Attire in Late Thirteenth-Century Hispanic Texts - Marija Blašković, University of Vienna

Looks at two chivalric texts—El Cid, and the Partidas (law/customary codes)--and how clothing is used in them. Detailed prescriptions of colors for different groups in ceremonial contexts, as well as general directions about clothing and appearance. Didactic philosophical discussions of the meanings of various parts of knightly dress and armor. This detailed concern for knightly appearance is reflected in the descriptions of clothing and accoutrements in Cantar de Mio Cid. The poem also contains negative examples of clothing of non-virtuous men. These same passages generally have the details of clothing edited out in the version included in the Estoria de España. Examples from other versions included in historic chronicles with varying levels of clothing description. (There are a lot of cataloged details from various texts. In general, they tie back to the manuals on the proper appearance of knights and the importance of clothing to status.) Examples of woodcut illustrations of the tale of the Cid from the 16th century.

Quilts of Many Colors: The Paned Quilts of Henry VIII - Ms. Lisa Evans, Independent Scholar

Physical examples of pieced quilts are difficult to find before the early modern period, however inventory descriptions can be highly suggestive of colorful pieced coverlets. We are given inventory descriptions of three items from Henry VIII’s inventories whose descriptions are consistent with this type of item but highly unusual. Additional data from artistic depictions and descriptions are brought in to support a vision of what these objects may have looked like. Inventories contain both a large number of very plain quilted coverlets of linen or wool, in addition to a smaller number of luxury fabrics. Most of the high-end “paned coverlets” were of two colors only, sometimes embellished with needlework(?). None of these paned quilts survive, however later traditions in pieced, quilted coverlets suggest some of the visual possibilities. The three focal objects from the Richmond inventory are different in having 3-6 colors. We are shown some examples of colorful pieced clothing/furnishings form Asia. European examples of descriptions in literature that clearly describes coverlets pieced of multiple colorful luxury fabrics. Example of Italian domestic frescos painted in trompe l’oeiul to depict pieced wall hangings, including the hooks used to hang them. Manuscript illustrations of knightly trappings suggestive of piecing. Examples of two-color paned cloths of estate. Various examples of clothing from 16th c  Germany and Italy that appear to be colorful piecing. An acknowledgement that some of the artistic examples may be imaginative or created by painting or patterned weaving rather than piecing. Actual examples of pieced furnishings include the 14th c. Anjou Textile, the 15th c Impruneta Cushion (very colorful piecing in small complex designs). No indication in Henry VIII’s court of pieced clothing, though Anne of Cleves may potentially have introduced German fashions for paned clothing. And Anne of Cleves has a connection to Richmond, which may then have a connection to the multi-colored paned quilts in the Richmond inventory, though this is speculation. The fashion for paned quilts faded in the next century in favor of imported Indian fabrics. Later fashions in pieced quilts, including paned/striped designs seem to have been a re-invention.

Blackwork in Red, Cockatrice, and Rabbit: A Peculiar Jacobean Waistcoat-as-Bestiary - William E. Arguelles, The Graduate Center, CUNY

A study of a waistcoat with red “blackwork” designs of beasts and plants. The base fabric is a linen/wool blend and the embroidery is done in red wool. Description of the needlework techniques. Garment was reworked in the late 17th century (?to accommodate a stomacher?) resulting in some cutting and piecing of the embroidery. The motifs are embroidered across some seams, suggesting that the garment was assembled first, though in other places the embroidery ends at the seam. So a combination of approaches. A set of lacing holes appear to be added later as they sometimes pierce the motifs. Now we move on the motifs and their arrangement. There is an interplay of the mythical and the mundane with no clear order. (The speaker is badly misidentifying various floral motifs.) Beast motifs: parrot (identified as a sparrow), squirrel, rabbit, leopard, and cockatrice. Reference to a possible heraldic connection for the cockatrice. Insect motifs: butterfly in all stages including caterpillar and chrysalis. Insects are more common on the back of the garment, with beasts more on the front. The cockatrice is given the most prominence in the design. Various animal motifs repeat, though in slightly different variations, but appear to be taken from the same base pattern. Discussion of the cockatrice motifs and their significant placement on the garment’s back, while the “featured” motif on the front is the leopard. (This seems to be mostly a descriptive paper rather than having a thesis.)

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