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Medieval costume and furs...

Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 6:50 pm
by zauberdachs
Hello,

can anyone offer advice on the wearing of furs during the medieval period? I have recently been given a wolf skin cloak but in all the books I possess and on all the websites I've visited the only mention to fur cloaks i've found has been in Sweden and then as an pictorial sterotype used to denote heathen pagans from the mountains, roughly 1200.

Obviously animals skins would have been worn in the medieval period but what is the most acurate way?

Any advice would be grand, cheers!

Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 7:00 pm
by craig1459
The wolf has only been extinct in the UK since the end of C17 so it wouldn't be a problem from that perspective. I don't know how fur would actually be cut/worn though.

There is possibly an ethical problem for some with wearing animal fur these days. What's the general approach taken to this? Is fake acceptable in the living history context?

Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 9:47 pm
by Lena
Fur would have been used as lining and trimmings. Mainly squirrel, ermine, marten etc were used AFAIK. See for example Rogier van der Weyden's Seven Sacrament altarpiece (the two women in the middle) and The Magdalene reading, as well as the Manesse Codex: Herr Gottfried von Neifen.
(Weyden: http://gallery.euroweb.hu/html/w/weyden/rogier/)
(Manesse: http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/sammlu ... ame=cpg848)

Fur coats as we know them (the fur on the outside) were not used in the Middle Ages. Perhaps you could remove the fur from the backing and re-use it as a lining for a surcote?

Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 10:35 pm
by latheaxe
We use real fur to edge some of our kit..We just cut up old fur coats and they are useful stiched together to make blankets too.. :wink:

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 1:21 am
by Tuppence
Depends which bit of medieval you mean, but do bear in mind that there's sumptuary legislation about who can wear what. (Although it's arguable whether any sumptuary laws were followed.)

There's at least one picture of a shepherd wearing a cloak made of (probably) sheep or goat skin fur side out, (don't have the ref. to hand) - but it's probably more likely to have been a lining.

As to the ethics, I use fake fur, and real fur on clothing - usually as a trimming. If I'm making for display it's fake - for me, it's usually fake - if a commission, it's up to the customer, with the following proviso:
- I will use antique fur, where the animal's been dead for years and years, or furs like reindeer or something from scandinavia, where the animal would have died anyway (food industry, etc, - not really any different from leather).
- I will not use new, "fresh" fur, if the animal was bred solely for its fur.

debs

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 8:43 am
by Scraggles
Fake fur is great around fires, one stray spark and you get lit up, then it melts to your skin being plastic :(

Also recall it takes a lot of non renewable oil to make fake fur, whilst real fur can be grown on vegetable scraps and we should all be environmentally friendly :twisted:

Got a fully fur lined gown that has a mixture of rabbit, cat and a few other things, getting hold of cat fur should be fairly easy if you breed them I guess.

Wolf's cloak on shepherd would be ideal !

The fur is naturally on the inside where it keeps you warm, withminimal fur trim on the outside

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 12:06 pm
by Drachelis
I too will use "antique " fur or furs as by product of the food trade - rabbit and such - I also agree that I will not use new fur from animals bred for such.

Furs worn on the inside as a lning trap a layer of air which acts as insulation - there is much pictorial evidence of fur used as a rimming ( or lining with the edge showing)

Cheryl
Shadowlight Designs

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 12:38 pm
by latheaxe
So thats' why you were interested in my pussys' Scraggles! :shock:

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 1:42 pm
by mac (crucesignati)
Fur... real or faux? Good question, well presented.

We all (well a lot of us) frequently harp on about the subject of authenticity with regards to our costume. It is a great topic for often 'heated' debate, people feel quite passionate about it sometimes.

My opinion on this subject is why go to all the trouble of ensuring your kit is authentic (or as authentic as you deem fit) and then finish it off with fake fur? Whilst not particularly being an advocate of the fur trade, to be honest (and at the risk of scorn and abuse) I have no opinion one way or the other, I use real fur where needed on my kit.

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:05 pm
by Nigel
The reason Debs uses fake on her own now

Involves a protestor a spray can and a hand sewn houplander. Said person talked to her then must have gone out of event purchased can and came back.

it also involved 3-4 people sitting on me as I recall

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:07 pm
by John Waller
Were furs covered by sumptuary laws?

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:48 pm
by Vicky
The Statutes of Apparel 1463-64 state that those with < £40 a year (including theur wives, minor children and servants) were forbidden to wear minniver, lettuce and other costly furs.

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:57 pm
by Chickun
It also prohibited maihoitered (sp?) doublets as well I believe to the same class of people?

Change of subject but something worth bearing in mind!

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 3:26 pm
by Shadowcat
After checking with the person buying the garment, I will use real fur, from old fur coats usually, (agree with Tuppence - no "new" fur). I have used artificial, and usually hate it. I have been known to say to MOPS, with an innocent look "It's amazing what they can do with artificial fur these days, isn't it!" (Many, that I come across anyway, wouldn't know the difference.)

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 4:23 pm
by zauberdachs
Thank you for your replys, keep them coming :)

Fake fur is one of the most flamable materials I've ever seen :) almost as bad as fleece.

Real fur is within the spirit of what we do I guess, I mean we all wear leather don't we?

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 4:43 pm
by m300572
lettuce


I thought that this was a salad vegetable! Although cabbage is the offcuts from a tailor cutting out garments as well as a green leafy thing. What sort of fur do you get off a lettuce then??

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 8:31 pm
by Vicky
Yick - furry veg!

According to E. Veale (The English Fur Trade in the Later Middle Ages) lettuce is the fur of the snow weasel - more expensive than miniver but cheaper than ermine.

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 1:22 am
by frances
If you are into recycling and saving resources, as I am, then go ahead and recycle old fur coats and stoles. When I have these to pass on to re-enactors and the general public see them and make comments, my usual reply is that since they died over 60 years ago and gave their lives for us humans, to re-use them is to respect the animal. To throw it away is wasteful and disrespectful.

On the other hand I do a lot of work very close to people and I have never put fur on any of my outfits - Ooo I tell a lie. I put some narrow pink sheepskin trim on a little girl's Victorian shoulder cape that I show on a dress model when I put on costume exhibitions
.

Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 9:38 am
by Annie the Pedlar
Just an observation.
I take a basket of (real (roadkilled)) fur round schools. The urban children shiver when they touch then or won't go near them. The country children are more interested in how the animals were caught. One 9 year old boy was totally sympathetic to my story of how I came to acquire the fox skin. "Oh I have terrible trouble with foxes too" he sighed." One got into my chickens last night..."

Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 10:02 am
by BraveAnimal
I prefer real fur to fake. And preferably fur still on the living animal. But as we slaughter sheep and cow for meat anymway, might as well make sure wel use all of the animal. I have a bit of rabbit and mainly sheep. I saw on discovery this morning that cowskin is pretty arrow and fire proof ( when layered with seaweed!)
I also have some third of fourth hand fur frm old, old old fur coats and such. Which I find an honour to recycle into costumes.

Re: Medieval costume and furs...

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2006 3:38 pm
by Gyrthofhwicce
zauberdachs wrote:Hello,

can anyone offer advice on the wearing of furs during the medieval period? I have recently been given a wolf skin cloak but in all the books I possess and on all the websites I've visited the only mention to fur cloaks i've found has been in Sweden and then as an pictorial sterotype used to denote heathen pagans from the mountains, roughly 1200.

Obviously animals skins would have been worn in the medieval period but what is the most acurate way?

Any advice would be grand, cheers!


No, No, No, you shouldnt wear it, it's wrong you need to get rid of it, how much do you want for it???? :D Seriously if you want to sell it.