HNW - 15th/16th c. embroidery Noramunro at
Wed Mar 21 23:00:51 PST 2001

In a message dated 3/21/2001 4:12:01 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
hardcorps at writes:

> I think we fixated on "Renn Faire" and Elizabethan......<G>

Well, Ren Faires do tend to be approximately Elizabethan in theme.  :-)  The 
Maryland one which does a Henry VIII theme, due to having a rather large 
red-headed man willing to play Ol' Hank, I think is unusual if not unique.

>      You're right, though.  There seems to be a huge gap in the embroidery
>  world, from the time of cyclases up through about Henry VII, when there
>  doesn't seem to be much embroidery in use except in the church.  Why do we
>  think this is?  I can't even venture a good guess.

Short form?  Fashion.  Not much of an answer, I  guess, but I really think we 
tend to underestimate the plain straightforward impact of what people thought 
looked good.  Most of the people I know who do historical recreation tend to 
talk in terms of "practicality" and "function" when they discuss how to 
recreate a garment, rather than period aesthetics, ideal figure types and 
*fashion.*  I've been very frustrated recently with a conversation over on 
the Norsefolk list, in which the idea that Norse people might have had an 
ideal figure type or standard of feminine beauty has apparently been 
completely forgotten, and the greater Scandinavian world has suddenly become 
a centre of proto-feminism and "acceptance of different figure types."  Huh?

Getting back to the high middle ages, at least some of the lack of embroidery 
on garments might be explained by the increased availability of damask, 
lampas-woven, and brocaded silks in Europe.  In terms of time and skill 
needed for production, and expense to own, these were going to be at least as 
costly as embroidered garments, and, truthfully, probably more so.  For your 
serious showpiece going-to-court clothes, those patterned fabrics were going 
to be the materials of choice.  Obviously they don't require embroidery to 
dress them up -- you want to show off that spiffy woven patterning.  For your 
everyday clothes, embroidery is clearly not going to be a practical choice.  
Soooooooooo .... that's my crackpot theory this week anyway.

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