Cast Of Each Comic

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Costumer's Manifesto: The 16th Century Part 4

smock ca. 1575-1585
“The decorated smock was an integral part of the complex layers of clothing worn by women from wealthy families. It was an undergarment in the sense that it was worn under the outermost items of dress, but it was never intended to be concealed completely as underwear is generally today. Decorated smocks could also be worn as semi-formal wear in bed for receiving visitors.

 The smock was probably made in the household of the girl or woman for whom it was intended. Most young girls in well-to-do households learned how to embroider, so this embroidery could well have been worked by a skilled amateur. It seems likely that the black silk on this smock was of Spanish origin because it has lasted very well. Black English silk of the period contained more iron, which caused the silk fibres to rot.

The smock was made of two different grades of linen. A fine weave linen was used for the bodice and sleeves and, as two small surviving strips indicate, a coarser one was employed for the skirt. Contemporary documents indicate that this was quite normal, the finer and more expensive linen being used only for areas of the smock that might be seen.”

collar ca. 1500
 “This silver collar is made up of repeated S-shaped links, united by rings. Chains worn around the neck or shoulders were a common form of courtly jewellery in the 15th and 16th centuries. A similar 15th-century collar composed of 41 cast letters ‘S’ was found on the banks of the Thames in London in 1983 and is now in the Museum of London.

 Livery collars composed of S-shaped links became popular at the English court after their introduction by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (1340-1399). They ranged from the jewelled gold collars sported by royalty and the nobility to the ribbon or leather collars with silver or copper letters attached that were worn by lesser officials. Pendants could be hung from the chain as symbols of office or to indicate allegiance to a particular group.”

Men’s shirt ca. 1540-1549
“Until the mid 20th century a man’s shirt was an item of underwear. However, those parts of it exposed when the wearer was fully dressed were often embellished. In this example, the collar and cuffs are embroidered in a pattern of stylised columbine and leaves in cross stitch. The embroidery continues on the seams of the sleeves and shirt body, even though these would not be seen. Collars and cuffs decorated in a similar way can be seen in portraits of men by Hans Holbein between 1535 and 1555.”

 “This is a chasuble, the vestment (priestly garment) worn by a Catholic priest when celebrating the Mass (the main service of worship). Prior to the 1960s, the priest stood facing the altar with his back to the congregation, so the back of the chasuble was visible most of the time. The front is more worn than the back because it has rubbed against the altar. Simple columnar embroidered orphreys (decorative bands) adorn the back and front. All of the figures are of female saints, which may suggest that the orphreys were intended for vestments for a convent.”

        “A chasuble is the principal church vestment worn by a priest at the celebration of the Christian mass. It was usually made of rich materials (silks) and adorned with orphrey bands, embroidered with images of particular symbolic significance in Christianity. Different colours were used for different seasons in the Christian calendar, black being appropriate for funerals or requiem masses. This chasuble was recycled from a pall, a cloth used to cover a coffin. The embroidery dates to the early 16th century, while the style of the vestment dates to after 1600. The initials RJ on the back are those of the person for whose coffin the cloth was originally made (Robert Thornton, Abbot of Jervaulx).”


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