Gulf Wars Champion

When I last wrote, I was gearing up for Gleann Abhann’s Kingdom A&S and finishing up my Skjoldehamn tunic to enter.

As much as I hate procrastination, it seems to love me greatly.  And there is something about not sleeping for an entire week while finishing up a project that shoots the body full of adrenaline.

My project got finished and I was chosen as one of three people to represent our kingdom at Gulf Wars!!

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My Linen Version of the Skjoldehamn Tunic

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My Display

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My Tunic & Display

 

 

 

Rus – What does it mean?

Sometime last year, I offered to help make garb for a friend and asked him what time period and style interested him. Being a typical early period fighter-type guy in the SCA, I knew he was leaning towards the Viking-age, but when he said Rus I had to pause. “What do you mean by Rus?” I asked.

How little did I know that this one simple question pushed me into my rabbit hole, and I have little hope of ever returning. The general idea of a Russian Viking is not hard to find, but as a serious costumer I wanted to know what makes the costumes of the Russian Vikings different from all of the other Viking-age outfits. My rabbit hole question is trying to define the garb of the elusive “Rus.”

Before I could do that, there were many other questions I needed to answer. Did the Rus exist as a separate and distinctly different culture from the other Viking groups of the time? What made them different? How would they have defined themselves?  What distinguishes a Viking-Rus grave from a grave of a native Slavic or someone from the East?

And then the more penitent questions for me: What extant evidence do we have?  What is the current hypothesis that the Russian archaeologists propose concerning the costumes?

With as many people bandying about the term Rus and with as many books written on the subject, one would think it would be a cut and dry answer. Not so much! I’m still searching for these answers, but I want to share what I’ve learned so far and what I will learn.  My posts on this may be slow since I’m painstakingly translating Russian archaeology articles, but when one wants to know about something, it is best to go to those with the most access.

First of all, for my personal use, I am defining Viking-Rus as those settled in Russian areas who were of Scandinavian origin culturally.  What does that mean?  Whether or not they were born in Russia or in Norway, I’m focusing on the people who still had connections to the Scandinavian Viking culture.

How is this determined?

One word: graves.  An archaeologist determines what someone is culturally based on how the dead person was physically treated and what items were in their resting place.  What about a DNA test? you ask.  Those are really expensive and most archaeology departments are not that well funded.  Maybe some future culture will value the information more and swing for a slew of DNA tests, but until then we have body remains and grave finds.  And that topic deserved its own blog post.

I hope you enjoy this series. Leave comments and questions – I always appreciate them and we learn best from each-other.

Viking-Age Accessories Part 2: Men & Shopping

Accessories for Men

An introduction to common accessories found in Viking graves to help the reenactor put together a kit to look more like a Viking.

The drawings are my own – please do not scan or upload to the internet. Copies made for educational purposes, such as classes, can be as long as credit is given and my contact information is added. Feel free to email me for questions, corrections or comments.

MEn image words 2 wm

Hat tip:

Hat tip: There is no doubt that Vikings loved to bling things up, including the ends of their caps.  These hat tips were cone shaped metal ends that were often elaborately decorated.  They were found in both the western areas, such as Birka, as well as the eastern or Rus regions.

Pennanular Brooches:

Pennanular Brooches were used to pin cloaks near the shoulder, a style that makes it easier to reach a weapon or gear. Cloak pins were sturdy, often a large pennanular (horseshoe with a sharp nail) or annular (circle with a sharp nail) brooch. Other brooches are fine as long as they have a sturdy pin.

Thor’s Hammer:

Thor’s Hammer, or Mjølnir, was often shaped like an upside-down cross. They could have animal heads on the bottom or be plain hammer-shaped.

Arm Ring:

Arm Ring are thought of as signs of status and wealth, arm rings and a common Viking grave find.  These ranged in a variety from elaborate, animal headed small torqs to simple twisted and coiled wire spiraling around the arm.

Belt Accoutrements

Buckle:

Buckle:  Vikings had buckles, not rings, which held their belts together. These were often elaborate in design and very sturdy in construction, but rarely were larger than able to accommodate a 1 inch belt.

Belt Studs:

Belt Studs, also called belt plaques, were metal affixed to the belt with studded backs. Common in Viking-age graves, a single set did not always perfectly match but were similar and had a common element. The idea of a consistent and matching “set” is modern.

Belt Tips:

Belt Tips increase the Viking flavor of your outfit, even if you can not find belt studs. These metal tips often matched the buckle, not the studs, in design.

Belt Pouch hardware:

Belt Pouch hardware, including buckles and leather studs, are a common Viking grave-find. Some whole pouches, such as the Birka pouch, can be used as a pattern. These pouches had leather loops in the back that allowed them to slide easily onto the belt.

Seax:

Seax:  Rarely do we find an adult male Viking grave without a weapon. Even most female graves contain weapons. The seax is a common Viking knife, which often hung horizontally by using metal rings and leather straps rather than vertically, like a modern knife sheath.

Winingas Hooks:

Winingas Hooks answer the question of how a Viking man kept his leg wraps on. These small, metal, triangular shaped hook tags were sewn onto the leg-wraps using small holes near the flat edge. They are almost always found in matching pairs.

Where to Find Accessories?

Other than waiting for large events, such as Pennsic or Gulf Wars, the internet is the place to find Viking accessories.

There are a few good shop in the U.S.:

Crafty Celts http://www.craftycelts.com/
Raymond’s Quiet Press http://quietpress.com/
Also look to Europe.
Etsy (www.etsy.com) has great European vendors.

My favorites are (in no particular order):

Other European Shops:

If using Chrome to see these sites, you can right click to translate to English. And most of them take PayPal! ~~~ Enjoy! Esperanza

Rus Embroidery #4

I’ve been having fun sketching Viking Rus embroidery designs from period sources.  Their artwork, as I may have said before, is this amazing mix of Viking, Byzantine and Eastern.  I’m still researching on the stitches they used, but I haven’t yet found enough to post anything.

Here’s a new design. It’s based on a sword hilt from 11th century Ukraine.

Neckline / collar

rus embroidery 5 d wm

 

Hem, Sleeves and other Straights

Rus Embroidery 5 f wm

Documentation

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Viking Design for use in Embroidery

I’m still working on research on Rus sewing techniques and embroidery methods, especially those not gilt or bead.  From what I’ve learned, it is different from the contemporary techniques we’ve found in western Scandinavian lands. Not sure if I would call it more complex, but it certainly has a level of complexity I did not expect to find in 10th and 11th century textiles.

Until I can gather my notes into more writing, I’m still working on my Viking and Rus designs for use in embroidery.  You know how I love the combination of curves and geometric figures.  This one is inspired by a pattern Sue Margeson’s book on “The Vikings in Norfolk.”

viking in Norfolk

Women’s Viking-Age Garb Part 4: Step 3 What to Wear over the Gown

I took a break for a couple of days for the holidays.  We had a beautiful Winter/Solar-Festival/Christmas/Yule/Hogswatch holiday.  Whatever you want to call it, the midwinter celebration is one of my favorites.

Continuing on in my Women’s Viking Garb series, today I’ll talk about what does a Viking woman wear over her gown.  Remember this is a mash-up series.  I’m not looking at any specific point in time and place, but this series mashes together all of the Viking-age and all of the places considered “Viking.” I’m trying to paint a general picture for the re-enactor who wants a Viking-age persona, but doesn’t quite know a specific time or place that her persona would be from.  The outfits described here give you an “authentic” Viking look without limiting you to one specific region and time period.

Step 3: What to Wear over the Gown

Choices:

  1. Large Over-gown
  2. Peplos
  3. Hangerok (Apron dress)

Choice 1: Large Over-Gown

  • Length: Calf length or higher
  • Sleeves: Wrist or Forearm length, looser sleeves
  • Wool or Linen

Style can be based on any gown from step 2, but it is generally a size or two larger in order to accommodate the clothing you would be wearing under it.  The sleeves and hemline are often a bit shorter.

The gown can also be split up the front, like a jacket.

Coat birka

Or it can be closed in the front like a coat.  These will be discussed further when I discuss what to wear when you are cold.

coat 2.jpg

Choice 2: Peplos

A peplos is a simple tube that is as wide as you with your hands on your hips and as tall as you. It was worn more in the Finland region.

  • Length: Possibly from right below the knee to the ankle
  • Front and back held together on shoulders with clasps

When worn, it is generally folded down on top to about armpit level. It is then held up in many, many ways, each one giving a different look. As you can see, a long sleeved tunic gown is worn under the peplos.

Peplos 1

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Choice 3: Hangerok / Apron-Dress

At its very basic, it’s a simple tube held on by straps that go over the shoulders.  Not much different in essence with the Peplos, with the main difference of the addition of the straps.

  • Fabric: wool or linen
  • Straps: sewn on to back
    • held on to front by brooches, usually with loops

The different styles are based not only on geographical diversity, but also on the differing opinions of the various archeologists.  As of yet (and of my current research) there is no complete extant apron-dress. We have many, many pieces of the tops, especially the loops, but not enough to make a definite guess as to what the finished product looked like.

Apron-Dress Style 1

The first style is essentially a large rectangle that is wrapped around the body and held closed with loops that are connected to brooches (not shown in illustration).

Hangerok 1

Apron-Dress Style 2

The second apron-dress is based on the finds found in Hedeby and Inga Hägg’s writing on the apron-dress.  This dress has a panel in the front and back, and has one to two panels on each side.  The front and back panel is more rectangular, while the side panels have a more trapezoidal shape, giving the dress more flare at the bottom.

Hangerock 2.jpg

Apron-Dress Style 3

This style is based on Flemming Bau’s ideas behind the apron-dress.  His idea is that the apron-dress was not closed in the front.  Again, it’s essentially a rectangle, but instead of being closed in the front, it was open and usually had a simple apron completing the “circuit.” (apron not shown in illustration)  The apron would hang into the brooches with separate loops.

Hangerok 3

Apron Dress Style 4

The final dress is based on the Kostrup pleated apron-dress. In this style, there is a series of pleats that run across the top of the front panel.  The pleated fabric gives the width to the bottom of the dress.

Hangerok 4

 

Pattern for the Hedeby Apron-Dress

pattern 6

Women’s Viking-Age Garb Part 2: Step 1 The Chemise

Step 1: Chemise

Definition: the thinner “gown” you wear closest to your skin and made of light to heavy fabric. It’s ankle length, but the arms can go from nearly sleeveless to wrist length

Optional: yes.
Do you want one?

  • Yes
    • Ankle length
    • Arm length:
      • wrist
      • shoulder
    • Linen or maybe hemp
    • 2 styles
      • Style 1: Plain
      • Style 2: Pleated
  • No
    • Move on to Step 2: Gown

Style 1: Plain

Based on many pieces from Birka and Hedeby. This style is a plain gown, almost what we think of as a t-tunic. It should include gussets (under-arm wedges) and gores (side triangles)

chemise 1


Style 2: Pleated

Pleated chemise. Needle and thread used to make pleats 2 to 3 mm deep. The fabric is then moistened, dried and the threads pulled out.

chemise 2

 

Patterns for Chemises

Pattern for Plain Chemise

pattern 1.jpg

 

Pattern for Pleated Chemise

pattern 2

 

The letters on the patterns refer to my old croquis:

Croquis Ultimate 2.jpg