Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Admont Bible

Admont bible, Salzberg early 12th C, (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Wien. Cod. ser. nov. 2701 and 2 pages in École Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris. PC 22788)

The Admont Bible was produced in Salzburg, Austria, c1140's or maybe earlier (it's a topic of debate). Most of the book ended up in Hungary by the mid 13th C (it was bought back by Austria in 1937), except two leaves which ended up in France.

There is a lovely website with pictures of the manuscript and a history of it. Also on that site are links to a 14th C (Hungarian Angevin is 14th C !) and 15th C manuscript.

Dodwell finds it one of the best productions of the thriving world leading Romanesque Salzburg manuscript school. He says it's highly byzantine influenced, which I find quite clear to see in some of the women's hairstyles, decorative motifs, draperies, and more subtle details.

Women in this manuscript
This manuscript is not the best source material as are biblical figures, but the women certainly appear to be wearing fashionable clothes, not old fashioned ones. The answered question is how much is reality and how much fantasy?

f11 Boaz and Ruth. Ruth's sacrifice

  • Ruth is a down on her luck noble, depicted as faithful to her family, and doing the right thing, not a slut like Salome. In the first picture, Ruth is begging from and later courting a noble relative. In the second she works in the fields to feed herself and her mother in law.
  • The two pictures show differences in dress that may correspond to that change in activity.
  • In the First picture her dress has trim at neck and hemline, in the second none is apparent.
  • The first dress is shorter (although not the mid calf I expected) to display her long chemise underneath, and keep the precious trim off the floor. The second chemise may or may not be quite short - we can't see under her dress.
  • The first chemise is trimmed at the wrists, the second is not.
  • The first dress has wide flared sleeves, the second has loose sleeves that stop at her elbow - out of her way.
  • All of these seem practical changes to a dress for doing work.
  • The hairstyle in the first picture is more elaborate (possibly a byzantine style?) whereas in the second picture her plaits are enclosed in a covering and she wears a hat. While covering the hair while working is practical, I am not convinced that this style is more practical or quicker than the first style. A nice veil would be better, but maybe this would clash with her status as an available widow, and object of romance.

f12 Hannah and Peninnah,
  • Hannah, the favoured wife of Elkhanah, can't get pregnant, while the second wife Peninnah can.
  • Both Hannah (I'm assuming she's the childless one) and Peninnah wear similarly cut dresses and veils. The dresses are floor length, probably moderately loose in the body, and have flared sleeves.
  • Hannah's dress is from a patterned fabric, perhaps this displays her favoured status. (patterned fabrics are likely to cost more)
  • Both dresses are trimmed at the cuffs and hem. Hannah's dress has more decoration depicted on her trim.
  • The cuffs of Hannah's chemise or whitish layer underneath is trimmed, Peninnah's in not visible. No wrinkle effect is depicted on these tight sleeves.
  • Both women wear similar veils. Interestingly both are coloured veils, whereas white veils are more common.
  • No belt is visible.
f12 Hannah's sacrifice.
  • Elkhanah didn't mind that Hannah was childless, and still gave Hannah a larger portion of the sacrifice.
  • Hannah's dress is cut similarly to the last picture.
  • A small white blob is visible at the bottom of her maunche. Looking backwards, I think it might be visible on both women in the last picture too. I think this is what I've seen earlier, and thought might be a sleeve lining.

f12 Eli and Hannah
  • Hannah pleads with a priest to give her a son. (and it works, and all ends happily)
  • Hannah wears a red dress, with bell shaped sleeves - these seem to flare above the arm as well as below.
  • The dress is decorated at the v-shaped neck and has a couple of subtle lines of decoration above the hem
  • The dress appears to have been belted in tight at the waist with a wide yellow fabric band. (A corsolet?!)
  • A chemise is visible at the wrists with decorated cuffs, but interestingly I can't see it at her neck despite the lower v-neck of the dress.
  • Her hair is parted in the middle and plaited, probably in a single plait.

f18 The story of Hoshea
  • Hosea was a prophet who married a prostitute supposedly on god's orders. She probably cheats on him, he divorces her, then he can't stay away and buys her back from a lover or client.
  • The second picture depicts Hosea's inconstant wife in bed. She wears a cute beanie cap, and in the full picture I can just see pale yellow shirts to her ankles.
  • The second figure holding the child might be a midwife or just Hosea's wife on a more formal occasion?
  • A fairly simple dress, full length, gently flared sleeves from the elbow.
  • Who said pink wasn't period? Well actually this doesn't prove anything - the artist might just have the colour on his palette, but the colours used do generally seem to be plausible.
  • I wonder how she gets such wonderful folds in her veil in the first picture?
  • Has that white bit peaking from the bottom of the sleeve again.
  • The headwear provides a contrast between the lady in bed and the lady nursing. The veil appears to be headwear for a mature lady, while a prostitute wears young fashion of a cap.

f24 The affliction of Job
  • God permits Satan to test Job's faith by afflicting him with bad stuff, like the boils pictured. 3 male friends and his wife try to get him to give up on God, but he refuses.
  • The lady in red is mostly likely Job's wife, who refutes god and dies. I'm not sure who the second lady is - she doesn't seem to fit the story.
  • Both ladies wear loose dresses with flared sleeves. The lady in pinks' sleeves are a more traditional shape, with trim. I think the lady in red's sleeves are supposed to be the same, just badly drawn.
  • The lady in pink's sleeve has the white blob at the bottom again.
  • White chemises show at the sleeves of both garments.
  • Both wear veils. the y have a similar drape about the head, showing some of the neck, but the lady in red's veil has a loose end over her shoulder. This may represent a (partially undone) veil in which ends are crossed over the neck and flipped behind the head. the lady in pink's veil shows strong fold lines in opposing directions at the neck. the loose end looks a lot to me like the shape made by tapered fabric, rather than square, for example the corner of a half circle.

f26 Bride and groom (not illustrated)
  • It's very hard to see this picture, but the bride must be the one dressed in pink.
  • The garment has flared sleeves, with some decoration at cuff and collar.
  • There are also two vertical lines. They could be plaits, but i think she is wearing a veil. I think they look more like two lines of decoration, along side seams or just inside of them.

Costume accessories - men's hats
Hats from folio 9 & folio 10

Also in the manuscript are a number of interesting men's hats. I'm used to phygian caps and beanie caps, these caps are a slight variation in exact shape. But what caught my notice especially is the vertical stripes on the hats. Hats can easily be made by naalbinding or sprang, and I've been speculating (along with others) if 12th C hats in these styles might be made so. So far there's been no evidence.

Could these vertical lines be an indication? Maybe, but another hat from the same manuscript is in a diamond pattern, which could still be sprang, but a very different representation of it, so maybe we are just seeing a decorative finish by the artist.
Hat from folio 14


Rebecca said...

I have no idea if this is just an Eastern European thing, but there are little caps found in Estonia and Lithuania from the 4-16th centuries made of chain.

The earliest known sculpture of a native Estonian shows people wearing little beanie-style hats too.

10th century hat
16th c. Estonian hat http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v244/quokkaqueen/sig/?action=view¤t=eestidiadem.jpg

Can't find a picture of the sculpture...yet

Rebecca said...

Sculpture on the left-hand side, Karja church

Teffania said...

I can't see in your photobucket account - password protected.

I wouldn't be the least surprised if those caps go further east. (did you send me some hungarian stuff with some?) They are pretty rare to the west of Austria. Mainly in Austria, a scattering in Germany that I've seen so far.

Phygian caps I see occasionally in france, but not the beanie style.

Teffania said...

Ah, I can see the pictures now.

Yes it's an intriguing possibility. I think there probably is some kind of link between the two - the way the caps are in Austria but not further west (and rarer the further north in germany you go - I think) particularly means either a local invention or one inspired by further east to me.

I wouldn't go as far to say they are chain caps, but even just the idea of wearing caps would be transmitted. And the idea of chain caps is still interesting too.

Rebecca said...

Sorry, yet another random comment.
The later Angevin dynasty (The House of Anjou-Hungary) was indeed 14th century.

From: http://mek.oszk.hu/01900/01949/
(Actually, the entire Hungarian Electronic Library looks pretty cool.)

Teffania said...

Link has moved to: