Sunday, June 6, 2021

A Real Folk Treasure

Sharp-eyed readers will find a new blog in my "Costume Blogs" list in the left-hand margin: FolkCostume&Embroidery (the title is written without spaces on the blog's home page).  

FolkCostume&Embroidery consists of hundreds of article-length posts showing folk costumes from different parts of Europe and Asia.  Each is illustrated almost entirely with color photographs of costumes, diagrams, maps, and other useful illustrations.  Best of all, the articles often cite source material at the end.  The author embroiders and sews costumes himself, and the blog states that he is "open to requests to research and transmit information on particular Costumes for dance groups, choirs, etc."

Readers of the blog who are interested in folk costume should come and explore.  Chances are that the area you need information on will be featured, and there is a search box for the blog you can use.  I suspect I don't have enough time just to read all of the wonderful articles that are here, but that won't stop me from trying! 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Mystery Solved?

Many of us who are interested in Viking era Scandinavian costume have heard of, or seen pictures of, the amazing Mammen find; remains of an embroidered garment that may have been a tunic; the padded cloth cuffs, adorned with metal brocaded tablet weaving; and other signs that a wealthy and powerful person/s had been buried there. 

What I hadn't known before now is that bones from this grave were originally discovered, but have been missing for over 100 years.  The bones from this find, also known to archaeologists as the Bjerringhøj find (the actual find location, which is near the village of Mammen) had gotten stored with bones from a find at Slotsbjergby, in Zeeland. 

Now, the bones have been rediscovered in the storage area of the National Museum of Denmark, where they apparently had been stored with another find.  Charlotte Rimstad, along with other researchers, wrote a report describing how the bones were lost and found.  That article was published online by Cambridge University Press, accessible free of charge:  it can be read and downloaded here.   In short, the Rimstad article notes that the newly-re-discovered bones were re-connected to the Bjerringhøj finds by analyzing the textiles that remained on them, and those textiles appear to be the remains of a set of ornamented pants cuffs similar to the ornamented wristlets associated with the "Mammen" find!

This story of mislaid bones is relevant to this blog because being able to study the bones, and not just the textiles that had been found with them, will provide a greater amount of knowledge about the textiles than the textiles themselves can provide.  

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Follow-Up on Hestnes Burial

A few weeks ago, I wrote a brief post about an unusual recent archaeological find at Hestnes, which is located in central Norway.  That post can be read here.  

Today, on Alexandra Makin's textile blog I discovered a link to a video about a textile specimen from the Hestnes find.  The video can be found on the NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet's Facebook page, here.

NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet, i.e., the NTNU Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, is located in Trondheim, Norway, and the video is in Norwegian.  However, the visuals themselves are instructive; they include a schematic showing various items in the woman's grave at Hestnes.  Judging from the video, the specimen in question was found on a tortoise brooch.  There are also images of textile bits from the grave, some of which appear, even to my unpracticed eyes, to bear traces of long stitches in different colors.  

I commend the video to your attention, even if you don't understand Norwegian.  You may be certain that i will be on the lookout for additional information about this find.  If any of my readers see any articles with additional information on textiles from Hestnes, please let me know!

Monday, April 12, 2021

New Source of Information About Early Textiles

This week, courtesy of Katrin Kania, I learned about a free, searchable database of scholarly publications.  It's called Digital Vetenskapliga Arkivet, or DiVA, and it allows one to search for books, dissertations, and articles published by scholars at nearly 50 different universities in Scandinavia. (The above link goes to the English language version of the home page; for the Swedish version of the home page, go here.) Best of all, DiVA is absolutely free to use.  You can go directly to the DiVA search page from here

Naturally, DiVA includes dissertations, articles, and other works that are not related to textiles, clothing or the Vendel and Viking Ages.  In addition, many of the works findable via DiVA are not in English.  However, I still found an excellent work relevant to textile-related Vendel period studies with my first search:  

Malmius, Anita.  Burial textiles: Textile bits and pieces in central Sweden, AD 500–800 Doctoral Dissertation, Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies (2020 (English))

I am really looking forward to reading this volume of Anita Malmius's work, which on first glance appears very comprehensive.  I look forward to further searching on DiVA for other useful papers when I have more time (and brain energy!) to invest.  In the meantime, by means of this post I hope to make DiVA available to more costume researchers, and perhaps to people with different reenactment-related interests as well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A very old basket

Today, I came across a news article from the Jerusalem Post. The article is about an archaeological find of a basket, with a lid, in a cave in the Judean Desert. The picture with the article shows the basket, looking not only complete, but in good condition with only a little visible damage.  One might buy such a thing for a few dollars or Euros at a yard sale or a used goods shop. 

But this basket is no thrift store find. It is 10,500 years old, made during the Neolithic period, and believed to be the world's oldest surviving basket.  The dry climate of the Judean Desert likely is responsible for preserving the basket so well.  It is still remarkable that it survived because there was evidence that looters had come within 10 cm of the basket, when they stopped digging for some unknown reason.

The basket is also very large.  Its capacity has been measured at 92 liters.  It was empty and closed when found, but a small quantity of soil was found inside.  The researchers hope that analyzing this soil will help identify the basket's original contents.  

Basket weaving is the cousin of, and believed to be the forerunner of, cloth weaving.  As such, it belongs to the chain of handwork that includes the history of cloth and of costume.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A New Prince

Empire awake.  
Empire, at rest on a sofa at the rescue place.
Meet Empire!  (He's named after the apple variety, not the governmental entity, because his mother's name is Apple; his siblings also have apple variety names.)  We are bringing him to live with us on Friday--the pictures with this post were taken by the woman who runs Fosterlings, the cat rescue operation that has made it possible for him to survive and begin to thrive, and for us to adopt him.   

Empire (or "Empy" for short) is only a bit over 4 months old  He's younger than the other cats I have adopted, but he has a combination of playfulness and an odd maturity for his age that is appealing to me.  He is also willing to be petted, and tolerates being picked up.  Like Zola, he is part Maine Coon, as the pictures demonstrate (the large, tuft-filled ears, the larger-than-average paws). Clicking on the photo should get you a much larger, detailed version of the same photo.

EDIT:  (2/15/2021)  I learned when I got his file after the adoption papers had been signed that Empy was born 9/20/2020 (like Sugar, he was born in a rescue facility to a mother who had been rescued).  That means he'll be exactly 5 months old this Saturday.  Unlike Sugar, the woman who placed him with us knows who his father is.  He is a large Maine Coon she describes as "25 pounds of solid muscle."  

2ND EDIT:  (2/19/2021) After checking his records, I can confirm that Empire will be 5 months old exactly tomorrow, February 20, 2021; he was born on September 20, 2020.

3RD EDIT: (3/10/2021)  I misread the form containing Empy's birthdate: It's actually September 16, 2020.  Close enough, though, to confirm that he'll be 6 months old next week!

Friday, January 22, 2021

A Sad Farewell

Long time readers will recall my (few) posts about Sugar, my first cat.   Today, Zola, Sugar's successor, died at the age of almost 9 years, of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.  My first post about him after we adopted him can be found here.   I'm not feeling like talking more about his passing just now.  If you wish, you can find more about that at my Instagram account, here

Zola, at about 5 years old.