Reading Medieval Norse Textile Traditions
By Kristen Marie Tibbs
Abstract: Reading textiles from medieval Norse society supplements written sources and also provides insight into the voice of the individual who created these textiles. This project puts women and traditionally female tasks at the forefront of historical thought and analysis. I demonstrate that we can read textiles (via their material, color, style, and geographic location) alongside texts in order to expand our understanding of past cultures. Along with valuable archaeological remains of textiles and textile production tools, this research incorporates examples from the Sagas of the Icelanders in order to further understand the significance and symbolism of clothing and production in literature and daily life. I also focus on the finished head coverings worn by women in medieval Norway and analyze specific garments from the collection uncovered at Herjolfsnæs, Greenland in order to address questions about the complex social cues related to clothing and textile production.
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