Historical Clothing

Posted On October 12, 2010

Filed under history

Comments Dropped 8 responses

Last December I started working on a Finnish Viking-era women’s dress. I always wanted something like that to wear to the main rituals of the year(plus it’s great for Medieval/Renaissance faires). The dress I have made is based on findings from the grave site, Luistari, in Eura, which is the most well-known one. In 1969, a grave of a woman was found from there dating back to the 11th century. She was adorned with bronze fasteners on the shoulders, another brooch for a cloak, spiral bracelets, among other pieces of jewelry. As a result of the metallic oxides in the bronze, some of the textiles were also spared, which were found to be wool. The gown consisted of an underdress, overdress, apron, and a mantle, and this is common in the rest of findings throughout Finland. The woman buried was very rich, but the common woman would likely have held up her overdress with sticks or bone. The male clothing is similar to their Scandinavian counterparts, with a long tunic, tight pants, and leggings(perhaps made of fur or wool). Both male and females typically wore spiral ornamentations. The reason why the finds have been from the eleventh to thirteenth centuries, is because Finns were making a switch from cremation to burial during that period, though there were some finds from the sixth century in Satakunta of the same design (Lehtosalo-Hillander). Tying the clothing together at the waist was a long belt wrapped twice around and the rest would hang down on the side of the outfit.

Wearing period clothing is not necessary in a ritual, but I find that it helps put you into the right state of mind. I’m trying to think of how to put this into words, but I think my brain is too fried right now from all of the Japanese homework I’ve been given lately : \ A friend of mine helped me with picking out the fabric and cutting out the pattern. My underdress is made of linen, as is the headdress, and the rest is wool. The yarn that I used for the tablet weaving is also wool(or at least eighty or more percent). I currently do not have any brooches to hold up the peplos dress(I used my sewing needles), so the only ornamentation right now is the tablet weaving. So without further ado, here is my dress that took months to complete, since I used no machine at all:

Euran puku 002

If you’re interested in reading more about this subject, there’s a really comprehensive article by Pirkko-Liisa Lehtosalo-Hilander here(it’s a PDF), though the above reference is from a different article by her. For the tablet weaving, there’s a good site with some patterns of traditional Finnish designs here, and for the actual construction of the male and female garments, I recommend checking out Satu Hovi’s site.

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8 Responses to “Historical Clothing”

  1. Nik Gervae

    Ihana, kaunis puku. Mun on syytä sanoa olevani vähän mustasukkainen.

    • Christine

      Kiitos kommentista! Hmm well the male costume should be easier to put together I would think.

  2. SLK

    Very well done! It looks better than anything I’ve seen in big budget Hollywood movies about Viking era Scandinavia. You put a lot of effort into making it. The headdress is nice, but typically it was the married women who wore them. A woman without a headdress was a sign of being single, it was that era’s version of a wedding ring.

    • Christine

      Thank you! Oh yeah I forgot about that. Almost everyone I have seen at events here wears one though, even if they’re not married. I like that it keeps my head warm.

    • Christine

      I know you wrote this awhile ago, but I should also add that if this were truly the Iron Age, I would have already been married with six kids by now.

  3. Ute Rogge av Nordensköld

    Greetings,
    Sadly the link for Satu Hovi’s site no longer works…have you another site with construction details for the Eura style under gown?

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