Friday, 3 August 2012

Fantasic Find * Nearly 3,000 Medieval Textile Fragments From Austria

Archaeologists began investigating Lengberg Castle, East Tyrol, Austria in 2008. During the work the packing of a vault filled with waste was found. The fill consisted of dry material in different layers, among them organic material such as twigs and straw, but also worked wood, leather – mainly shoes – and textiles. And what a find! There were more than 2,700 individual textile fragments, including a number of almost completely preserved pieces of clothing as well as fragments of linen lining of garments with remnants of the former colourful woollen outer layer. Fragments of several linen shirts show pleats on collar and sleeves. The sleeves of these shirts with preserved textile buttons and corresponding button holes with small cuff circumference suggest that they were constituents of female clothing, or perhaps children. One pair of completely preserved linen underpants, the fragment of a second one and a textile fragment of red and blue wool which turned out to be the codpiece of a pair of trousers belong to male clothing. But what has taken textile historians by surprise is the discovery of four bras resemble modern bras of today. They display distinct cut cupsand end below the breast but have additional cloth above the cups to cover the décolleté, and no sleeves. There is a satirical poem of the 15th century which may refer to this construction: Ir manche macht zwen tuttenseck Damit so snurt sie umb die eck, Das sie anschau ein ieder knab, Wie sie hübsche tütlein hab; Aber welcher sie zu groß sein, Die macht enge secklein, Das man icht sag in der stat, Das sie so groß tutten hab. Many a woman makes two bags for the breasts with it she roams the streets, so that all the men look at her, and see what beautiful breasts she has got; But those whose breasts are too large, makes tight pouches, so it is not told in the city, that she has such enormous breasts. (translation: Beatrix Nutz) Austrian National Library Cod. 2880, fol. 130v to 141r.

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