Re: Black - Period Color
- View SourceAll the Tudors are mentioned as having worn black, not just painted in
it. Unless there was a massive conspirancy, it was a known color for
- View SourceWait! Wait! You are mixing time periods a lot. The original question was
about black as an 11th century textile dye, not about the 16th century
By the 16th century, black was widely used as a textile color favored by the
aristocracy. The popularity of black as a clothing color is said to have
arrived in England with Catherine of Aragon in 1501 and members of her
court. Black had become a popular clothing in Iberia toward the end of the
By 1581 the English published a proscription from using indigo as a base dye
for producing black. (The law was in regard to the use of indigo rather
than woad, but illustrates the popularity of black textiles.) Indigo or
woad combined with a brown or a blackish dye create black. Oak galls and/or
walnut work when combined with iron salts.
- View Source--- In SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com, "Samantha Smith" <sasmith0@...> wrote:
> Just like everyone else has confirmed, black did exist as a viable
> but it was an expensive one to make. Because black is such a sombercolor,
> it was used by people who wanted to protest society's excesses...I'm very much intrigued! Are there written records to this effect?
From when (century, half-century, quarter-century)? Who made them?
How widespread was this practice?
> ironic, considering how expensive it was to get a really good black.No, actually it wasn't expensive, not for the dye production and the
dyeing as far as I know. Any source of tannin, such as oak wood
(chopped into small chunks), oak leaves, acorns, oak bark; grapes;
berries; persimmons; and actually a wide variety of plant materials
having tannins (which are a group of polyphenols) plus *iron* will
It's the presence of the iron or iron salts which makes a black dye
"expensive" in the period embraced by SCA, simply because the iron
shortens the useful life of the fabric by weakening it.
> like wearing a designer burlap sack. ;-) This is why the pictures of theYou mean as a protest against society's excesses? (We're getting
> early pilgrims to America always seem to show them in black hats and
off-topic, here, just because we're out of period.)
This, I hadn't heard before. I *thought* the Pilgrims became Pilgrims
in a quest for religious liberty: to practice their faith without
either persecution or prosecution.
I recall reading somewhere that Pilgrim society wore the black for
somber, i.e., religious, occasions, such as church services and church
'meetings;' that the color was considered a proper one for the same
because it connoted *modesty.* In fact they loved color, bright, gay
color, and they enjoyed cheery, 'happy' music and had both these
commodities in their lives. We have an incorrect image of the
Pilgrims as being serious, even somber or almost grim, joyless people,
which in fact they were not, but they did believe that one day each of
us would be called to account before his/her Maker---and they kept
meticulous, conscientious journals.
As an aside, a good, true black *paint* is very readily and cheaply
obtained. Today the truest blacks are 'carbon' black and 'ivory'
black; in each case the black pigment was originally obtained from a
carbon source. Carbon black was also known as "lamp black," because
the carbon was the soot collected from the chimneys of oil or paraffin
lamps, or the soot from fireplace chimneys, in the nineteenth century.
"Ivory" black came not from ivory but from bones burned and ground to
The "earth" pigments were fairly inexpensive, too (not jewels or
semiprecious stones; earth pigments are yellow ochre, red ochre,
sienna, ...hmm, there are a few more, slipping my recall this
morning.) What's in my mind at this point is, Which painting or
paintings of the Pilgrim Fathers or the Pilgrims are you thinking of;
when was it, or were they, painted; and by whom and *why?* A group
portrait, even after the fact of the Pilgrims lives, would qualify as
a "somber, important occasion;" an artist working on his own, without
a patron or if not established in his line of work, might rely on
hearsay, or might have his palette curtailed by financial constraints.
That, I admit freely, is just speculation.
Yseult the Gentle, returning this thread to a more period discussion
of the 'periodicity' of the color black in clothing.
- View Source--- In SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com, "Samantha Smith" <sasmith0@...>
Because black is such a somber color,
> it was used by people who wanted to protest society's excesses...kind of
> ironic, considering how expensive it was to get a really good black.Kind of
> like wearing a designer burlap sack. ;-) This is why the pictures ofthe
> early pilgrims to America always seem to show them in black hats andHere's another fiction on the scale of what we get from Hollywood.
The idea that the Puritans always wore black is a 19th century
assumption. If one checks historical records such as wills and
inventories, there are lots of coloured clothes mentioned for that
time and place, not a great load of black. "Textiles in America,
1650-1870" by Florence Montgomery gives a few more details, although
it's mostly about the fabrics used as furnishing materials. The
Quakers forbade the wearing of black as a *vanity* and would only wear
"plain" colours like greys and browns.
Producing black dye, or deepening the colour of wool that is already
black-ish or dark brown isn't rocket science. Whether it was done or
not depends on the fashion of the period. Many of the early religious
orders started with black or brown habits as a sign of humility, not
because those were the colours of dye they wanted to use on white
wool. Naturally dark-wooled sheep were more common then, and the dark
wool was cheaper than white wool that could be dyed pretty colours.
Silk is another matter, of course. Black silk was purely a fashion
statement to be worn by the wealthy whenever it was in fashion. The
first really big trend for it would be in 16th century Spain, and
quite possibly because it flatters the olive skin tones common there.
Then Catherine d' Medici made black the colour of official mourning in
France when she became a widow. Before that, mourning was white, or
otherwise undyed fabric. But she looked so much better in black...
Gotta watch what we accept as "Truth". It varies.
- View Source--- In SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com, "Ken Nye" <kennyeca@...> wrote:
>*Puritans!* Thank you, Ken, for that correction. Some corner of my
> Here's another fiction on the scale of what we get from Hollywood.
> The idea that the Puritans always wore black is a 19th century
> assumption. If one checks historical records such as wills and
> inventories, there are lots of coloured clothes mentioned for that
> time and place, not a great load of black. "Textiles in America,
> 1650-1870" by Florence Montgomery gives a few more details, although
> it's mostly about the fabrics used as furnishing materials.
little mind was harboring that word and wouldn't give it up for my
use! I knew there was some word in addition to "Pilgrims" I wanted.
Yseult the Gentle
- View SourceGoing back to the original question... there is a charmingly-awkwardly
translated article in NESAT 5, more properly cited as:
Jaacks, Gisela, and Tidow, Klaus. Archäologische
Texilfunde--Archaeological Textiles: Textilsymposium Neumünster
4.-7.5. 1993. NESAT V. Neumünster: Textilmuseum Neumünster, 1994.
called "Reconstruction of a Viking Magnate Dress" written by Anne
Hedeager Krag, which was about clothing reconstruction for the
Historical-Archaeological Research Center in Lejre, in the Hedeby
style ("We have leaved the Birka-textile material out, as this has an
especial orientation towards the baltic areas.")
"The dress consists of trousers, leggings, tunic and cloak, in the
colours: red, blue and lack. The red colour is made by dyeing the
wool with madder, the blue colour by dyeing with indigo. In
prehistoric times indigo was extracted from the Nordic "indigo-plant:
woad. The black-brown color is made by dyeing with both madder and
indigo. It is also necessary to dye the wool in order to achieve a
uniform lack-brown colour. Even wool from "black sheep" is not black
-- but brown or dark grey. It was not the lot of the common man to
wear red or blue, and hence black colours. Only the wealthy could
afford this luxury, for these colours were expensive to produce. To
wear red, blue and black clothing was thus a social signal to the
wearer's surroundings that he could afford this luxury."
Black was used for the trousers, which turned out a black-brown in
color (I would say, then, that this was a warm black rather than a
cold, blue-based black); the exhibit had the fabrics woven from
commercially-spun and hand-dyed yarns. There is no picture of the
finished project, unfortunately.
- View Source
> --- In SCA-Garb@yahoogroups.com, "Ken Nye" <kennyeca@> wrote:<snips>
> > Here's another fiction on the scale of what we get from Hollywood.<snips>
> > The idea that the Puritans always wore black is a 19th century
> > assumption. >
However, we shouldn't discount the theme of passive obedience
(clothing styles were set by monarchs) as a Puritan tool of civil
disobedience. Ironic, eh? The way I understand it was that they wore
much simpler *styles* of clothing in the base style of the day without
much of the ornamentation, jewelry, and over-the-top lace and
embroidery. By "fitting in" by "sticking out" in the simpler clothes,
they were able to express their disapproval of the King and the Church
of England without breaking any laws concerning treason and all that
Please guide me in another direction if I'm wrong, but this seems the
easiest way to understand their place in English society at the time
in relation to their clothing styles based on the information I was
- View SourceOn Fri, Dec 5, 2008 at 12:17 PM, Ciorstan <ciorstan@...> wrote:
> Going back to the original question... there is a charmingly-awkwardlyAnd in case y'all were wondering exactly WHAT NESAT is....
> translated article in NESAT 5, more properly cited as:
> Jaacks, Gisela, and Tidow, Klaus. Archäologische
> Texilfunde--Archaeological Textiles: Textilsymposium Neumünster
> 4.-7.5. 1993. NESAT V. Neumünster: Textilmuseum Neumünster, 1994.
NESAT stands for Northern European Symposium - Archaeological
Textiles. They meet once every three years and the presenters are the
top textile archaeologists in the world. The symposium has been held
since 1981 and is typically hosted by the Neumuenster Textil Museum;
copies of the proceedings for the first two or three are exceedingly
difficult to get. I would LOVE for them to be reprinted.
Anyway, NESAT is the ultimate source for the latest research on
Viking-era costuming and lots of other things, too. The symposium is
where the Viborg tunic was first published, and the latest one (last
March, I think) was where the Crazy Professor Lady with the weird new
theory on Viking's women's dress presented her paper (and did not get
much of a response other than "how very... nice," from her peers). You
know, the article on OMGTEHVIKINGWIMMENSXXORS* that was circulating
last winter/spring in various newsfeeds?
*take your pick, sexxors or suxxors...
- View Source
> "Ken Nye" <kennyeca@> wrote:I think you're reading too much into it. If they were thumbing their
> > > Here's another fiction on the scale of what we get from Hollywood.
> > > The idea that the Puritans always wore black is a 19th century
> > > assumption. >
> However, we shouldn't discount the theme of passive obedience
> (clothing styles were set by monarchs) as a Puritan tool of civil
> disobedience. Ironic, eh? The way I understand it was that they wore
> much simpler *styles* of clothing in the base style of the day without
> much of the ornamentation, jewelry, and over-the-top lace and
> embroidery. By "fitting in" by "sticking out" in the simpler clothes,
> they were able to express their disapproval of the King and the Church
> of England without breaking any laws concerning treason and all that
> fun stuff.
> Please guide me in another direction if I'm wrong, but this seems the
> easiest way to understand their place in English society at the time
> in relation to their clothing styles based on the information I was
collective noses at King and CofE, subtly or otherwise, they could not
have gotten their charters and trade agreements approved by the Crown.
According to the people at Plimoth Plantation (who do excellent research
into their period's clothing, cookery, etc.) they were "puritans" in the
sense that they wanted the Church to be purified of error, but otherwise
they were people of their time who lived and dressed and ate and drank
much like other people of their time and place. Though they did sit
through longer sermons.
It should also be remembered that many of those Mayflower travelers had
moved first to the Netherlands, where their religious beliefs were
better received. They gave up their homes there and settled in the New
World when they realized that their children were growing up more Dutch
than English. But it was too late; some Dutch foods, customs of dress,
etc. were already part of the heritage they brought to New England
(where they soon traded with and married with settlers of New Amsterdam!).
The Plimoth Plantation re-enactors dress in black -- and beige and green
and scarlet and gray and crimson and blue and yellow and ocher as well.
And they really know their stuff.