Life in a turf house with dirt floors and animals underfoot presented challenges to personal hygiene. Lice were an ever present nuisance. Toiletry kits were a necessity."
Vikings The North Atlantic Saga by William Fitzhugh, pg 151
There were wide selection of both Viking and Saxon toiletry items, from full chatelaine kits
Roman women wore chatelaines with ear scoops, nail cleaners and tweezers. In Roman Britain, 'chatelaine brooches' were worn. Anglo-Saxon women wore a chatelaine and there is even one find of a Russian Viking chatelaine.
There are many individual pieces
Ear spoons or ear picks are found dating from Roman times and have been commonly found in Viking digs and Anglo-Saxon digs dating from the 9th Cenury.
Tweezers are a very old tool. There are drawings of Egyptian craftsmen holding hot pots over ovens with a double-bow shaped tool and tweezers commonly used in Mesopotamia from about 3000 BCE, perhaps for catching lice!
Scissors were probably invented in Egypt about 1500 BC. These were spring scissors comprising of bronze blades held together with a bronze strip and were used until the 16th C.
Combs are one of the oldest tools, dating back perhaps 5000 years ago from Persia. A nit comb had teeth fine enough to remove fleas. That became "go over with a fine toothed comb" meaning to go over carefully in deal!
During the reign of King Henry VIII the portrait miniature became popular. This was a time when most artists did not sign their work, but many of these miniatures during this period are attributed to Hans Holbein. Holbein is now most famous for his paintings, but Holbein also worked with miniatures and did designs for goldsmiths and jewelers.
Not many of the frames have survived, most being broken up for their jewels!
Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hillard ca. 1600 is the inspiration for one of our portrait holders we are proud to be bringing out of the vault!
We have also added a new piece based on a round portrait miniature.
You have to provide your own miniature paintings!
When the Vikings brought home their booty from their raiding, merchanting and serving foreign Kings, they accumulated a wide variety of goods. Some of these accusations influenced generations of viking art styles. The triangular frank sword fittings became the Viking Trefoil brooches. The Viking craftsmen soon made their own designs of Trefoil brooches and were no longer dependent on raiding parties bringing more of the precious pieces home.
In looking at the 35 pendants that make up the necklace from a hoard find, Krasse, Guldrupe, Gotland, Sweden, Gold, Silver and bronze are fishtail shaped, I cannot help but think of a piece of costume from Byzantium. The superhumeral, an elaborate embroidered and sometime jeweled collar. When extensions wear added to the superhumeral, it became a pallium.
I have to think that this hoard find was inspired by the travels of some Viking Varangian serving the Byzantine empire. He must have returned home and commissioned these pendants.
We again offer these reproductions!
Here is a piece we were able to photograph at the Viking Exhibit that was at the Field Museum in Chicago this fall.
The piece was based on a mold that was made in soapstone and found at Bjorko, Adelso, Uppland, Sweden.
What is very interesting is the fact that the reconstruction follows the mold piece exactly. Is that what the artist intended? If you look at the piece and mold, it becomes pretty obvious that the artist in all probability intended the "sprew" on the mold to be cut off. The "sprew" does not have any decoration and was simply in the mold to allow the metal to flow to fill the entire piece.
Historical pieces, when we try and reproduce them, are examined and the original artist's intention are considered in the reproductions we make. This is an excellent example of the work we put to use in our interpretations.
Here is our piece
Jackets with triangular overlapping front panels is often shown in Viking and Saxon art is what I refer to as a warrior coat. There are fragments from the digs at Hedeby that show the triangular front panels. In Saxon finds are finds of tablet weaving running down the front of the body, obviously edge decoration as shown on the helmet plaques.
See the Warrior Jacket I was wearing at Toys-for-Tots
In Viking art you can see these on the helmet plates from the Vendel (pre-Viking Sweden culture) mound burials.
You can also see the Warrior Jacket in dies found in Birka
In the Anglo-Saxon burial at Sutton Hoo, you have helm plates also showing the same warrior coats
The plates often show a belt closure on the coat. Brooches were also used as closures for the coats. At Birka are found Penannular brooches or ringed pins found as closures at hip level.
You can also see a very similar warriors coat used throughout northern regions from England to China!
"A relic - an object, custom, or belief that has survived from an earlier time but is now outmoded." That could be me after all! I think all the kids in the neighborhood are sure that is me. Words change over time.
In medieval times a relic was a part of a deceased holy person's body or belongings kept as an object of reverence. One of my favorite holders for a relic, called a reliquary, is the Shrine of St. Patrick's Bell, from Armagh, Ireland. We even used a portion for one of our irish penannular brooches.
So a relic can be an object!
In the times from the time of the Crusades, Norman and the 13th -14th Century. A reliquary in the form of a cross that had wax imbedded in the cavity of the cross was made.
The reliquary cross can hold your own personal relic that is memorable to you. Some people have suggested dirt from the first tourney site. My own has a rock from the first Outlandish Tourney site!
So think, what would your own personal relic be? Would it be small enough to fit into this reliquary cross?
From a customer request, we have brought out of the Vault an Irish Turtle brooch from the 10th C. When I saw the piece, I was hoping for more pieces to be found from Viking Dublin. Apparently, that is not to be! Another reenactor let me know that the Irish contractor bulldozed the entire site into the Irish Sea, rather than wait for the archeologists to do their work.
A friend I used to work with wife was from Greece. Her brother was a contractor out of Athens and my friend said his brother-in-law never "saw" anything old. If you did "see" anything the work could be delayed for years waiting for the site to be cleared for his work to be done.
I understand how this can happen. Here in New Mexico a man was digging a new basement and came across several graves. They were old, from the Civil War. He called the archeologists and they did their work. The whole Civil War in New Mexico was so limited they were able to identify all of the soldiers and bury them in a proper cemetery with their names on gravestones.
Then, finally the man could finish his basement!
In 2012 a small figure was found in Harby, Funen, Denmark dating from 800 AD.
Look at the hair! What an incredible model the sculptor had. Could this be a real depiction of a Viking age woman's hair style?
I was excited about the possibility that this was true. I started to search through my other viking valkyrie pendants and sure enough there was that same hair style.
On this piece again look at the hair. Not quite as long and spectacular, it is the same style. Based on a piece from Uppland, Sweden
And on this small piece the hair is even shorter. Based on a piece from Sweden
On one of the plaques we offer you can definitely see the same hair.
On this plaque you see the long hair, but the back is covered with a cap
This style is not the only style shown. This Valkyrie from Oland, Sweden, shows the hair drawn back to a bun in the back of the head.
Long hair must have been a preference in Viking times for women, with the knot a very common style. In Roman times slaves were bought for their long hair for Roman women to use as wigs. Is it possible the same practice was done in Viking times.
In Viking art you only see a few depictions of realistic human forms. This plaque is precious because it shows a human female form clearly wearing a dress with zigzag trim at the bottom of the of the dress and wearing a woven cloak. Her hair is drawn back into a knot, flowing to her waist! This plaque is one of the best depictions of a woman's dress and hair. These plaques are the portraits of their day and are some of the best depictions of human form in the middle ages until centuries later when monumental brasses are put into church floors honoring the dead.
From time to time we will be pulling items out of our VAULT! In our 35 years we have put items in our vault. It is now time to pull this bird out for a time! Order now again, for the first time, in a long time.
Inspired by the decoration in the Book of Kells, this piece is in red enamel looking backward to the left. Birds were a huge theme in Celtic, Frankish and Saxon art! There are many examples of bird pendant and brooches from period examples.