Teleri (telerib) wrote,

Hey fabric/garb folks...

I'm planning an English conversion era (seventh through ninth centuries) veil project. The evidence for them is scanty, since burials-with-stuff faded out early in the conversion era, but we don't get all the manuscript illos til the tenth and eleventh centuries. Gale Owen-Crocker's book summarizes most of what we do have.

* Nuns being scolded for trading in their dark grey veils for white and colored ones, hanging down to the knees (or feet? I can't recall. Long, anyway.)

* Depending on how you translate it, the veil is ornamented with ribbons or held on by them (e.g., a fillet)

* Nuns being scolded for curling their hair at the forehead and temples with a curling iron - so hair was visible

* There's a stone carving that also shows a veil over hair - the veil lays smoothly over the top of the head

* I refuse to believe the owner of a fabulous necklace like the one from Desborough would hide it under a wimple

Some Continental manuscripts show what look like oval veils, but the straight over-the-head look that the visible hair implies says, to me, one of two styles:

* A long rectangle worn with the long edge going up over the head and down again. (Like putting a scarf over your hair.) It's very easy to imagine this as appropriate to the narrower medieval fabrics. It could hang down to the knees or feet easily - that's the warp thread. On the downside, the width of the fabric will only fall to the shoulders or so. You get the "long veil" look by tossing the "scarf ends" back over your shoulders so they hang down your back. Fillet definitely required to keep this in place.

* A half-circle, with the "half" line worn to the front. But to get it very long, you either need a very wide piece of fabric or you need to piece it together from triangles.

Any thoughts on which is more likely?

And secondarily - material? "Dark grey" would imply undyed wool to me - that's befitting humble nuns who are supposed to be mortifying the flesh a bit. The "white and colored" veils - also wool, just bleached or dyed? Or silk? (I know the Arnegunde burial (sixth cen) had a fabulous silk veil.) I'm assuming not linen, as I've heard it doesn't take dye well.
Tags: research, sca
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