On Wed, 11 Jan 2006, Marc Carlson wrote: > First, it's unlikely that any Herjofsnes garments were found with > linen pads of any sort (linen has not survived in the conditions at > Herjofsnes). What may be being remembered is the polar bear breeches > from Angmagssalik (now called Tasiilaq), and may not be even Norse. > It's also possible that they are thinking of whatever those seal skin > things that I've heard Robin mention.
Marc, I'm the one who brought up the sealskin belt/pad arrangement from Herjolfsnes. There were a few fragments of bast fibers (some pieces of cloth, some microscopic fibers) found in various spots at Herjolfsnes. The cloth bits are mentioned in Norlund, and Else Ostergard summarizes them, but IIRC she misses the reference related to the item I described -- not surprising as it is one of the microscopic ones, and would not have been housed as a textile find. However, I misremembered that the cord on the sealskin also was linen; it was wool, and sheep's hair and moss were also the materials found under the sealskin covering. The item was mentioned only in the medical section of Norlund's report, written by Fr. C. C. Hansen, professor of anatomy, Copenhagen. From p. 322: [as part of a discussion of possible incontinence of one of the women] <<I mention this latter fact as a feature which hypothetically might perhaps be related to the peculiar finding in the pelvic bones of this woman which will be described in more detail below. For it could be shown that a piece of sealskin had been lying from the front of mons pubis between the femora, passing before genitalia and anus up behind os coccygis to the sacral region, remains of sealskin being found adhering to these places (in addition to human perineal hairs), together with the remnants of a twisted woollen cord (or string) which had evidently been fastened to the sealskin in front on mons pubis and behind in the sacral region. Besides loose hairs of undyed light sheep's wool the remains of fibres of plant substance (hemp?) were also made out. It is an obvious explanation that the woman may have worn a kind of protective bandage before pudenda and anus perhaps to soak up secretions during a possible incontinence. Otherwise we know nothing about a special article of clothing for this region among the women of the time..>> Later, in the discussion of this particular skeleton (I forget which one, the numbers are different than in the clothing analysis and I'm not going to hunt all through right now to match them up), there's a much more detailed description. Bits follow, pp. 332ff. Be aware that the translation into English is a bit askew. Parentheses are theirs, square brackets mine. << On a small perfectly well-preserved bone (by os sacrum), which could be clearly recognized as the 2nd vertebra coccygea, fitting aginst the also quite uninjured and well-preserved 1st vertebra coccygea subsequently found, was found adhering to the posterior surface a piece of sealskin (microscopy!) with the hairs on; in this little piece of sealskin were the remains of a little twisted rebrown woollen cord or string (microscopy!) with the remains of a strongly twisted knot. [There are references to figures that I thought I had copies of but can't find now. I know I've seen a drawing of this fragment, but I may have missed xeroxing it.] As on os pubis this cord was very frail and crumbled easily. ... When this little piece of sealskin with remnants of a small twisted woollen cord with a knot, has remained quite firmly attached to so small a bone as the 2nd vertebra coccygea, which like the 1st vertebra coccygea was perfectly well-preserved and uninjured, the reason must be as follows:-- When the body was laid in the grave there must have been lying on the back of os coccygis ... a strip of sealskin to which was fastened a redbrown woollen cord to keep the sealskin in place, while in front on mons pubis it was also kept in place by a couple of woollen cords which probably passed up to a cord or belt about the hip-region, thus representing a kind of bandage passing from mons pubis between femora down before pudenda and anus and up between nates in the sacral region. As the body was laid on its back in the grave the point of the sealskin with the woollen cord was wedged into sulcus inter nates and secured in its position to os coccyis where, as its shown by the state of these bones as well as of os sacrum, which is well-preserved, the putrefaction and destruction was least, and when the cold subsequently increased, so that the earth became permanently frozen, just these small bones were preserved with cohering remains of hair, sealskin, and woollen cords. We must assume that even more remained at the exhumation than we now possess, but that most of it decayed or crumbled away before it reached the Museum of Normal Anatomy. Finally fibres of a plant substance (resembling hemp microscopically) were found close by, and in the layer beneath the sealskin on the symphysis were found, besides the human pubes hairs, loose hairs of sheep's wool of a light colour or only slightly pigmented, and lastly, small leaves of moss, this latter perhaps an accidental admixture(?). >> Then a long discussion of the procedure for investigating the sealskin pieces, human skin, and hairs. The hair from the head was light brown, that in the pubic area "fairer and less pigmented." Among other points worth noting: There was a mix of different types of sheep hair among those found, some pigmented and others not. (Perhaps a combination of rags/bits from different sources?) The sealskin was apparently old and long-used; its hairs were in bad shape, unlike the human hairs next to them. Also: <<In addition to the animal hairs well preserved threads occurred, and on other skeletons remnants of cloth[,] made of coarse-fibred plant substance. Those from the present case have already been mentioned. The examination showed bast fibres quite similar to hemp (not flax). Finally we note that particles of moss evidently from the same period were found lying here and there under fragments of skin, between these and the bones, but as a rule mixed with wool.>> Lots more about bones, skin, hair, body oils, etc. for people who don't mind wading through 1920s medical terminology translated from the Danish. His descriptions seem sound, though his conclusions are sometimes a bit weird. --Robin _______________________________________________ h-costume mailing list email@example.com http://mail.indra.com/mailman/listinfo/h-costume