HNW - Re: Beading

Donna Hrynkiw donna at Kwantlen.BC.CA
Fri Oct 10 10:38:21 PDT 1997

Greetings from Donna,

On Thu, 9 Oct 1997, janis wrote:
> Greetings All:  Thank you to all who replied regarding the questions
> I had about beaded fringes and beadwork on fabrics. It was much
> appreciated.  Unfortunately, it appears that not many people are
> involved or interested in fabric beadwork or the history.

I've been keeping an look-out for bead-decorated clothing during the
earlier Medieval period for quite a while now (10+ years) and have uncovered
only a very small handful of examples.

>From that I deduce that bead-decoration on clothing was not a common
practice during that time (that, or my bibliographic wanderings havn't
taken me to the right places). It seems that beads were far more often
used in necklaces, earrings, or as talismens.

The instances I -did- find usually involved small pearls or amber. That
large red coronation mantle of (I'm drawing a blank on the name -- Roger
II?) that shows a tiger attacking a camel, and palm trees -- if you
can find a close-up of the pattern, you'll discover that the white edging
around all the lines is actually seed pearls, and the gold colour is
either gold tube beads or some sort of gold bullion/cord. (Wasn't clear
from the photo.)

There's a belt from a Spainish tomb (14th or 15th C, I believe) which is
decorated with small heater (shield) shapes with heraldic devices worked
in glass seed-beads.

There are, of course, all those Elizabethan gowns embellished with pearls.

There are also some examples of Eastern European seed-beading on parchment
- -- images of saints and such. But that's not clothing.

> Any early Celtic/Norse beadwork on clothing research,
> and then Byzantine beadwork and beaded fringing or 700 to 1500 AD
> Russian beadwork or beaded fringing would be greatly appreciated.
> I am working on the beadwork and fringing anyway but it would be so
> lovely to be able
> to research and document what I am doing.  Thank you so much.
>                                       Sine     (jesa at

Perhaps rather than following the classic SCA method of research (doing and
then attempting to document), you might find it more fruitful to research
and then do.

(Sine -- Sine of Ramsgaard? Is that you?)

Donna Hrynkiw
SCA: Elizabeth Braidwood
donna at
Currently reading: I, Claudius by Robert Graves


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