Saturday, April 27, 2013

A bedroom scene!

medieval shears in the Museum of London - found more often than scissors
Today's research snippet, and it's more from Alexander Nequam, this time on bedchambers - high status I would think with the references to sillk and sable!

In the bedchamber, let a curtain go around the walls decently, or a scenic canopy, for the avoiding of flies and spiders. From the style or epistyle of a column a tapestry should hang appropriately. Neare the bed let there be placed a chair to which a stool may be added, and a bench nearby the bed. On the bed itself should be placed a feather mattress to which a bolster is attached. A quilted pad of striped cloth should cover this on which a cushion for the head can be placed. Then sheets of muslin, ordinary cotton, or at least pure linen, should be laid. Next a coverlet of green cloth or of coarse wool, of which the fur lining is badger, cat, beaver, or sable, should be put – all this if there is lacking purple and down. (I am not sure what purple refers to here).
A perch should be nearby on which can rest a hawk. From another pole let there hang clothing, and let there also be a chambermaid whose face may charm and render tranquil the chamber, who, when she finds time to do so may knit and unknit silk thread, or make knots of orphreys (gold lace), or may sew linen garments and woollen clothes, or may mend. Let her have gloves with the fingertips removed; she should have a leather case protecting the finger from the needle pricks, which is vulgarly called a ‘thimble.’ She must have scissors and a spool of thread and various sizes of needles – small and thin for embroidery, others not so thin for feather stitching, moderately fine ones for ordinary sewing, bigger ones for the knitting of a cloak, still larger ones for threading laces.
Knitting in the modern sense was unknown at this time, and without the Latin original I don’t know what word the translator was glossing to come up with the term ‘knit.’ Forms of needle thread weaving such as naalbinding were known, but without more detail there is no telling what was meant in the fine tuning. Still, all very interesting!

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