[medieval-leather] Re: Status of Leather
- Peter Adams writes:
> Leather per se was probably not all that expensive as a rawI believe somewhere in one of my books is a reference to
> material. However, this is compicated by the records of the
> importation of Cordovan leather from Spain to England during
> a portion of the Middle ages, and undoubtably that leather
> would be more expensive.
leather being imported from al-Andalus to Christian Spain (somewhere
in the Aragon/Navarra region???) in the 11th century (??). The
reference (basically a schedule of tariffs) is insufficient to say
whether or not this is a luxury item.
>"One thing I haven't come across is the overall status of leather in heMy impression from the archaeological evidence is that leather was a
>middle ages. Was it considered a common place material or an expensive
>status material. Did it vary by era and culture?"
commonplace material, with no special status or expense. It was
occasionally used for highly decorated objects, such as reliquary cases,
crown cases, or caskets. In these applications it appears that the
decoration, not the material, gave the object "status."
Leather was an important part of the economy in some regions; Scotland for
instance exported large quantities of hides.
I would compare leather to wood - widely available and put to almost every
conceivable use. In general, neither material had a high value or
intrinsic "status" as raw material (as compared with, say, steel, bronze,
brass, or even tin). Either material could, however, occasionally be used
for extremely high-end items (although here I think wood has the
advantage). Also, both leather and wood include certain varieties that
were esteemed and more highly valued (e.g. cordovan, boxwood) for their