I decided to join this group as my research about Norman Sicily and Southern Italy propels me toward more authentic garb and persona. I've built up a tidy little library of books about Sicily under the Norman kings including a copy of Ugo Monneret de Villard's "Le Pitture Musulmane at Soffitto della Capella Palatina in Palermo," the only book that catalogs the pictures of the muqarna ceiling in the Capella Palatina, and Mirjam Gelfer-Jorgensen's "Medieval Islamic symbolism and the paintings in the Cefalù Cathedral," the only book that catalogs the Islamic paintings on the ceiling beams of the Romanesque cathedral at Cefalu.
Additionally, I am putting together this class to teach at future events:
Title: Outfitting the Sicilian dancing girl or musician, circa 1130
The Norman kings of Sicily had Muslim female entertainers in their courts, in the fashion of the former emirs of the island and the Fatimid court of Cairo. Although little is known of what these ladies actually did, there are depictions of them on the fabulous muqarna ceiling of the Capella Palatina in Palermo and on the beams of the Romanesque cathedral at Cefalu, similar in style to those depicted on lustreware ceramics from Egypt (an iconographic tradition going back to the Persian kings of Samarra). The instructor will share images from the period and talk about how to construct a Fatimid Sicilian-style tunic using carefully chosen vintage sari silks as a substitute for much more expensive, and heavy, silk brocades and accessories such as headwraps, a belt, undertunic, and shalwar. Students will also be able to see how the outfit actually moves on someone (the instructor). Students will be able to receive a handout with a bibliography and Web resources for imagery and costuming supplies.
Now, if I can only get my hot little hands on a copy of Alex Metcalfe's "Muslims and Christians in Norman Sicily: Arabic speakers and the end of Islam," I'd be deliriously happy. It sheds a lot of light about the culture of the kingdom.