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59137Re: [Authentic_SCA] 14th Century Bra Kind of Found in Austrian Castle

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  • Heather Rose Jones
    Aug 3, 2012
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      On Jul 29, 2012, at 8:46 AM, Catherine Olanich Raymond wrote:

      >> Heather Rose Jones wrote:
      >>> They found a pair of underpants. I have yet to see any sound reason for
      >>> identifying them as _women's_ underpants.** Nevertheless, OMG we have a
      >>> surviving pair of medieval underpants!
      >>> Tangwystyl
      >>> **There are excellent reasons for strongly doubting that they are women's
      >>> underpants, but let's just leave it at that for the moment.
      > What reasons are those? We know more about men's underpants from
      > artwork, and they look more like modern tighty-whiteys than anything
      > else, and not like these underpants.

      I forget whether the topic has been covered on this list since my post. (The discussion has been going on in parallel on at least a dozen different lists and forums that I frequent.) The very short version is:

      * This exact style of underpants can be seen worn by men in 15th c. German contexts.

      * There is extensive evidence both from art and text sources indicating that medieval Europeans (and by "medieval" I mean pre-16th century) considered underpants to be such a definitively masculine garment that they were used symbolically to represent women usurping masculine authority and status by wearing them. _Every_ artistic depiction I've found (or had pointed out to me) from medieval Europe that portrays women wearing or in the act of putting on underpants is in a context that is specifically depicting the woman either masquerading as a man or usurping masculine authority. The image depicted here:


      is typical of the genre. Underpants-wearing women could not be such a consistent and powerful symbol of transgression if underpants were an ordinary, everyday female garment.

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