Mid to Late 15th Century Woman's Turban Headress

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Frances Perry
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Mid to Late 15th Century Woman's Turban Headress

Post by Frances Perry »

Hello all,

I like to make lots of different types of hats / headwear for a woman of the mid to late 15th century - both high, middle and lower status.

At the moment, I'm very interested in the lower to middle status turban style linen headwear that appears in artworks. I've looked on the internet for both the starting piece of fabric shape and size, and how to tye it off, but so far only managed to find references to the 'proper' medieval Asian headwear of the same name.

From what I gather, you start with a woolen cap, and take a piece of linen 20 inches wide and 15 foot long and 'wrap' it round the head in a certain way. There can also be an extra piece of decorative cloth at the end for a bit of colour to finish the wrap. Please see here for the full demonstration: http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/ ... Turban.pdf

However, it seems to me that most of the woman's turbans are meerely a loose inturpretation of the Asian turban, and that perhaps not so much linen length was used.

Can anyone help me with this?
Last edited by Frances Perry on Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Phil the Grips
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Post by Phil the Grips »

Sophia's your woman.
Had a brief chat over this very thing when last we met.
--Angels also carry weapons--
http://www.blackboarswordsmanship.co.uk/

Theotherone
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Post by Theotherone »

Would some of the african head wraps be closer to what you are looking for?

Or something like this

http://moderntraditional.com/magazine/tips/hijab04.html

with less being left to cver the neck and therefore more to wrap around the head?
Because there would have to be three of them.

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Post by Sophia »

For a basic Turban type headcovering take a piece of linen 1.5m wide and about 0.3m long and hem all round. Note it should be long enough to knot around your head on the short side.

This style works with short hair, with long hair in a single plait or pony tail and with a crown of plaits.

Knot short side at the base of your neck then twist the cloth tube you have created (and the plait/ponytail inside it) and wrap the twist around your head tucking the end in. For extra security you can pin the end in place.

Alternative you can take the same piece and place over you head with the centre in the centre of the forehead. Cross the tails at the base of the neck and bring to the front, twist and tie by wrapping one over the other equally at each side. Again can be pinned for safety. This works best with finer linen in my experience.

Finally there is the square based version for which you need a hemmed linen square at least 0.9m square. Fold in half to form a triangle and plaice on head with point at nape of neck. Cross the side points at the nape of your neck under this point and bring the tails forward. Then twist and wrap, tie or pin in place around head. You can then carefully tuck the point at the nape of the neck in. (alternatively you can fold this point up to the correct level before you tie).

I hope this is clear enough - I am used to doing this as I wear a headcovering all the time and use variations on this for daily wear. Please ask questions if something is not clear enough.

Sophia :D
aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

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Frances Perry
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Post by Frances Perry »

Thanks so much for this advice Spohia - bought the linen today, and after I have washed and hemmed it, I am looking forward to having a play with the techniques!

Yay!

Regards, Fran
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“In these modern times, many men are wounded for not having weapons or knowledge of their use.” Achille Marozzo, 1536

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Frances Perry
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Post by Frances Perry »

Sophia wrote:For a basic Turban type headcovering take a piece of linen 1.5m wide and about 0.3m long and hem all round. Note it should be long enough to knot around your head on the short side.

Sophia :D


Hi Sophia, are you sure you meant 30cm on the short end? I'm hard-pushed to get that round my neck let alone from the forehead to the back of my neck!

I'm looking more at 60cm - have I got a huge head, or am I doing something wrong?

Cheers, Fran
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“In these modern times, many men are wounded for not having weapons or knowledge of their use.” Achille Marozzo, 1536

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Post by Sophia »

Fran,

I might have gotten that wrong (probably mixed up cm and inches as I work in both). Sorry if it caused you to waste cloth.

Basically the short side has to be long enough to tie it around your head with a knot at the nape of your neck - length is whatever is necessary.

Sophia :D
aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

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Frances Perry
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Post by Frances Perry »

Ah! Now that makes sense!!!!

No waste involved - thought it sounded a bit weird so got the old tape-measure out before cutting ;)
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Post by Shadowcat »

I recently had an accident and lost a deal of hair. Without benefit of Soph, I "invented" my own version of a turban, and in fact had several compliments on my new hat! (It helps that I am an OAP!)

I pretty much do it the same as Soph, but knot the short ends before putting it on my head, being unable comfortably to reach the back of my neck with my hands. I then twist and roll the same. My scarves have been a bit longer, I think, that Soph recommends.

Another way is, using a similar length, put the long end forward, and have the short end at the back neck. Knot the short ends over the long piece, thus securing it on your head. Now twist and roll as before.

Have fun - see how many variations you vcan come up with. My milliner friend had never thought of doing it Soph's or my ways, and she makes turbans all the time!

S

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Frances Perry
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Post by Frances Perry »

Hi everyone,

I thought I'd ressurrect this thread as I feel very guilty - I gave my friend the turban pattern that would had suggested and she loves it completely.

However, at Blore, she wandered over the Sarah Thursfield who said that it was completely inauthentic and actually an Afro-Carribean style. She said that in her 25 years of research she had not seen this type of headcovering. My friend was rather upset (as she is quite shy) and mortified that the medieval clothing bible-writer (she words not mine) had dressed her down so when she felt she looked authentic. I feel I owe it to her to try to help her out.

Is this information true? I must say I can't find anything close to it myself from a quick scan of medieval images, but then I also can't think of how to achieve the 'turban' look without going down the route of a straw 'crown-type' base structure underneath a linen wrapping.

Incidently, there was a lady at Blore watching the fashion show on the Saturday, who had a most beautiful headcovering who looked like she had come out of an Italian portrait - any clues who this might have been?

Thanks for any help with this...
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“In these modern times, many men are wounded for not having weapons or knowledge of their use.” Achille Marozzo, 1536

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Post by Sophia »

What Sarah was probably objecting to was the understructure rather than the head wrap itself. Your friend being embarrased and nervous probably didn't feel able to ask questions.

The method I use does not include any understructure simply the piece of linen. It takes some experimenting to get things to look right. I am not sure if Sarah has actually seen what I do as I mainly reenact with her in a Tudor context.

What I would suggest your friend does is to collect together her visual sources and approach Sarah again at the Autumn market and see if she can help.

The other thing to bare in mind is that prior to the C20th women did not generally cut their hair except for medical reasons. Though how long peoples hair grows seems to be a function of both genetics and diet it is quite probable that some of the shape in this headwear is given by the underlying hairstyle itself.

I have certainly found that how I dress my hair (bun, single plait, crown of plaits, etc.) needs to be varied according to the type of headgear I am intending to wear. FYI I thickish waist length hair. We do know that women sometimes used false hair pieces or plaits of woollen yarn to bulk up hairstyles.

I hope this helps.

Sophia :D
aka Thomasin Chedzoy, Tailor at Kentwell Hall

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Post by Theotherone »

The head wrap/turban thing doesn't get a mention in "The Medieval Taylor's Assistant" but there are images showing their hair covered this way. I'm just feeling too fluey to go and find any tonight.
Because there would have to be three of them.

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Post by Frances Perry »

Thanks very much - we will get a couple of days training with Sarah T at the start of February, so I hope to ask her there.
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Post by Lin »

"Incidently, there was a lady at Blore watching the fashion show on the Saturday, who had a most beautiful headcovering who looked like she had come out of an Italian portrait - any clues who this might have been?"

Hello Frances, this may have been me, but there were a couple of us wandering around with head-wraps that weekend. Don't have a pic of me to hand, but I was the one with the green underkirtle and orange-red overkirtle tucked up to show a blue-grey lining.

I based the head-wrap on Netherlandish paintings (and some Italian ones). Though they may not be an authentic fashion of the time (artistic licence and all that), I feel I can get away with it as my 15th century self's usually taking a break from a spot of modelling for my - fictional - other half, who's an icon-painter (I do the paintings). I'm still fairly new to reenactment, so would love any comments or feedback. A lot of people have asked me about the head-wrap so far, so I think there's probably a fair bit of interest out there.

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Post by Theotherone »

Still lurgyed.

The Front cover of this book appears to show one. But it's a bit unclear and prob. not the best example as it's an indoor nursing type scene.

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Roses-Famil ... e_0#reader

The illustration is credited as MS Douce 208 fol 1 copywrited by the Bodleian. I can't find it in the scanned online collection to find the date/country of origin, sorry.

This, which I found on Karen's Aprons Page http://www.larsdatter.com/aprons.htm (midwife section) seems to show some

http://tarvos.imareal.oeaw.ac.at/server ... 006336.JPG

As, maybe, does this (found in same place)

http://www.zum.de/Faecher/G/BW/Landesku ... ohnen1.htm

Is there a pattern emerging?
Because there would have to be three of them.

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Frances Perry
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Post by Frances Perry »

Lin wrote:
"Incidently, there was a lady at Blore watching the fashion show on the Saturday, who had a most beautiful headcovering who looked like she had come out of an Italian portrait - any clues who this might have been?"

Hello Frances, this may have been me, but there were a couple of us wandering around with head-wraps that weekend. Don't have a pic of me to hand, but I was the one with the green underkirtle and orange-red overkirtle tucked up to show a blue-grey lining.

I based the head-wrap on Netherlandish paintings (and some Italian ones). Though they may not be an authentic fashion of the time (artistic licence and all that), I feel I can get away with it as my 15th century self's usually taking a break from a spot of modelling for my - fictional - other half, who's an icon-painter (I do the paintings). I'm still fairly new to reenactment, so would love any comments or feedback. A lot of people have asked me about the head-wrap so far, so I think there's probably a fair bit of interest out there.
Yes - I think it was you - the guy I was posing with and me were saying that you should have been in the fashion show with us as you looked like you had come straight out of a portrait!! Beautiful!

How did you make your head covering? I'm guessing it's some kind of starched linen loosely wrapped and pinned in place over a fillet?



:D
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“In these modern times, many men are wounded for not having weapons or knowledge of their use.” Achille Marozzo, 1536

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Lin
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Post by Lin »

Thank you. :oops: :D Might be more convincing at close range if it had a cap to pin to, but it's just a square of linen (no special treatment) about 4 feet square, tied around the head twice (put edge over nape of neck, bring around corners to front, wrap around again and tie corners at base of neck). This produces a long (double layered) tube attached to the top of the head. Then scrunch up to give interesting creases and wind around the head (once) and tuck in one corner (or pin) with the other end free. I used to use a long rectangle, but it didn't have enough volume.

Always a work in progress, though. Not as structured as in many of the paintings, and no wavy edges (as in Rogier van der Weyden) but I do like it. :)

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