Book Series Medieval Church Studies , vol. 12

Weaving, Veiling, and Dressing

Textiles and their Metaphors in the Late Middle Ages

Kathryn M. Rudy, Barbara Baert (eds)

  • Pages: 364 p.
  • Size:160 x 240 mm
  • Illustrations:101 b/w, 8 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2007


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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-51527-4
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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53808-2
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The essays within this book bring an interdisciplinary approach to new material, and for the first time, establish the function of textiles as a culturally rich way to approach the Middle Ages.

Review(s)

"This volume presents a wide variety of new approaches to significant material, using textiles as a means to access an understanding of the many shades of meaning in the European Middle Ages." (J. Snyder, in: The Medieval Review, 08.05.03)

Summary

Christianity is a religion of clothing. To become a priest or a nun is to take the cloth. The Christian liturgy is intimately bound with veiling objects and revealing them. Cloths hide the altar, making it all the more spectacular when it is revealed. Fragments of imported silk cradle the relic, thereby giving identity to the dessicated bone. Much of that silk came from the east, meaning that a material of Islamic origin was a primary signifier of sanctity in Christianity. Weaving, Veiling, and Dressing brings together twelve essays about text and textile, about silk and wool, about the formation of identity through fibre. The essays bring to light hitherto unseen material, and for the first time, establish the function of textiles as a culturally rich way to approach the Middle Ages. Textiles were omnipresent in the medieval church, but have not survived well. To uncover their uses, presence, and meanings in the Middle Ages is to reconsider the period spun, draped, clothed, shrouded, and dressed. Textiles in particular were essential to the performance of devotion and of the liturgy. Brightly dyed cloth was a highly visible maker of meaning. While some aspects of culture have been studied, namely the important tapestry industry, as well as some of the repercussions and activities of cloth guilds, other areas of textile studies in the period are yet to be studied. This book brings an interdisciplinary approach to new material, drawing on art history, anthropology, medieval text history, theology, and gender and performance studies. It makes a compelling miscellany exploring the nature of Christianity in the largely uninvestigated field of text and textile interplay.