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Stanley Hauser





Joined: 17 Sep 2013

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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jan, 2014 9:19 pm    Post subject: Tailoring Early Medieval Mail         Reply with quote

Did Early Middle Age mail have similar tailoring techniques to later Medieval mail? For example, were the same techniques used, such as expansions and contractions on the shoulders and waist?

I have to admit it is difficult to say since I've seen so few examples of anything before the 13th century. All I remember seeing are old portrayals of knights wearing mail garments that had incorporated coifs and mittons.

Does anyone know anything about tailoring from this period?
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Frank Anthony Cannarella




Location: Medford, Oregon
Joined: 02 Sep 2013

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Thu 23 Jan, 2014 10:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I remember correctly, the Gjermundbu shirt fragments showed tailoring and that is from the 10th century. For a much later example from the 15th is the A2 shirt in the Wallace Collection. I don't know about lorica hamata but all mail really benefits from some tailoring.

My opinion is that the easiest way to mass produce mail is to have workers pre make sections of rectangles, triangles and then master craftsmen put them together. This puts in some tailoring in even if its subtle rather than the modern t-shirts made by the Indian companies. However this is my oppinion and while it makes rational sence, I am only basing it on my limited knowledge of the subject.

Populus stultus viris indignis honores saepe dat.
-Quintus Horatius Flaccus
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Roberto Banfi




Location: Near Milan - Italy
Joined: 19 Jan 2011
Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 59

PostPosted: Tue 28 Jan, 2014 6:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Frank Anthony Cannarella wrote:
My opinion is that the easiest way to mass produce mail is to have workers pre make sections of rectangles, triangles and then master craftsmen put them together..


I'd second that; while assembling my butted hauberk I found handy splitting the job in shapes for final assembly in a later stage
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Robert MacPherson
Industry Professional



Location: Jeffersonville USA
Joined: 27 Feb 2008

Posts: 141

PostPosted: Thu 30 Jan, 2014 8:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stanly,

I am not sure there is anyone in a good position to answer your question. There is so little early mail extant, and few people have examined it with an eye toward understanding the tailoring.

This puts us in a delicate position of having to extrapolate back in time. There are two lines we can take and both of them are prone to error.

On one hand, we can assume that bodies are bodies, mail is mail, and form follows function. If we through in the idea that out ancestors are as clever as we are, we might conclude that all of the tailoring tricks of the 16th C were present in 13th C. This puts us on shaky ground because if ignores how fashion can drive the shape of mail garments. There could easily be things that are essential in shaping a mail garment in the "age of doublets" that were unnecessary and un-thought of in the "age of tunics".

The other line presumes that earlier must have been simpler. This gets us into the sort of trouble that ensues when we presume our ancestors were not very sophisticated. Assuming that early mail shirts had no shoulder expansions might be a ridiculous as assuming that early hosen had no heels.

In the absence of real information, the only thing we can do is make our modern interpretations look as much as possible like what we see in period illustrations. If the resulting mail garment does not look, drape, and move like the medieval artists depicted it, than something is wrong. If you find, (for example) that a long, close fitted sleeve won't move properly without an elbow gusset, then the real ones probably had elbow gussets. If the front slit in the skirts hangs open more than the ones in the illuminations, then you need more skirt expansion.

If it looks wrong (and you have to be brutally honest with yourself) then it probably is wrong. On the other hand if you make it so it really does look like the ones in the period illustrations, the chances are it's right. If making it look right involved tailoring tricks that you can not otherwise document to the time period, then those tricks probably arose earlier than you thought.

Mac

Robert MacPherson
http://www.lightlink.com/armory/
http://billyandcharlie.com/
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