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14492Re: Latvian dress post 1200 (was: Polish/Lithuanian clothing)

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  • hillofbees
    Aug 26, 2009
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      Ack! Sorry! I do not know what is happening with my Yahoo! What I thought I had posted was this -

      Hey all, it's great to see the interest in Latvian dress!

      I wrote a longer response to Patricia offlist so I'll use some of it again here. Please skip over any bits you know. There's a lot of knowledge on this list and I don't want to preach to the choir.

      Historic clothing in Latvia is divided into two periods – archaeological and ethnographic, or traditional. The former is usually dated up to around the end of the 14th century, though with the increasing German presence and eventual occupation of the Baltic areas the indigenous archaeological finds, which determine what is known about dress, decline in quality and quantity. Then, in the later period, it's based on the more numerous pictorial and surviving clothing and starts roughly mid-18th century. The period in the middle is pretty unknown, c. late 14th-17th centuries. Latvian historians determine their middle ages as being 1200-1561. There are very few people researching dress even in Latvia. Irita Zeire is one; another, working on later periods, is Anete Karlsone.

      Pretty much the bulk of the recent, high quality knowledge about archaeological textiles comes from the work on Anna Zarina (accented `n' for `ny' sound – I don't trust the character to come out right!) Her books, primarily Libiesu Apgerbs [Liv Clothing 10th-13th centuries] and Abgerbu Latvia [Clothing in Latvia, 7th-17th centuries], are the start for anyone researching these periods. I've found them in big national libraries, but they are nearly impossible to get hold of second hand even in Latvia. Also, and this is the big barrier to researching Baltic dress in the period, they are in Latvian and for the Soviet-era publications, have some Russian translations, but no English. The next most accessible source is the fabulous three volume series on the whole of Latvian traditional dress, with some archaeological material and summary translations in English. Again, usually available only in Latvia though far more readily. The journal Arheologija has some interesting short articles often with English abstracts.

      All this is sort of leading up to a shameless plug for an article I have coming out next year, if you can hold on til April. It's been written with Ieva Pigozne, who runs the www.arheo.lv site (go if you haven't and are interested in this time and place) and will be published in Medieval Clothing and Textile. It covers Latvian clothing and textiles form the 7th – 13th centuries, with a few pictures, drawn or photographed for the article so new material if you're already familiar with the material. It's (really shameless plug!) as far as we know the first dedicated refereed academic article on the subject written in English, rather than translation. We've concentrated quite a lot on including a broad bibliography/historiography in the references with pointers in the texts so people will have a start of what to look for. I was going to wait til it was published to announce on the list but it since people seem interested... ☺

      For anyone who is looking to reproduce clothing in our period, my short two cents would be to look at whether you're doing native Liv or Baltic, or occupying country's dress. If occupiers, go with the fashions from the source, probably German depending when it is. The style of native archaeological dress is so stable that it still appears, changed only in decoration, in a lot of the 19th century ethnographic dress. So until more evidence comes out of the earth about the specifics of the evolution of changes around 15th-17th centuries, go with the earlier periods. The main changes are in type and quantity of decoration which Zeire and Zarina do provide some details of. Then watch this space and hope archaeology gets more funding if Latvia's economy ever recovers!

      Cheers, Ynes (de Toledo)
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