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[medieval-leather] Re: Status of Leather

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  • Robert Huff
    ... I believe somewhere in one of my books is a reference to leather being imported from al-Andalus to Christian Spain (somewhere in the Aragon/Navarra
    Message 1 of 7 , Nov 23, 1999
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      Peter Adams writes:

      > Leather per se was probably not all that expensive as a raw
      > 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.

      I believe somewhere in one of my books is a reference to
      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.


      Diego Mundoz
      Carolingia
    • Tim Bray
      ... My impression from the archaeological evidence is that leather was a commonplace material, with no special status or expense. It was occasionally used for
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 2, 1999
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        >"One thing I haven't come across is the overall status of leather in he
        >middle ages. Was it considered a common place material or an expensive
        >status material. Did it vary by era and culture?"

        My impression from the archaeological evidence is that leather was a
        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
        specialty characteristics.

        Regards,
        Tim Bray
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