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Medieval underwear find

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon July 23rd, 2012, 5:14 am

Everybody else seemed to love the Red Tent, Rebecca -- it's just that, as somebody who has a good idea of the sheer amount of daily, constant WORK involved in tending livestock and living at a subsistence level (albeit we do it on pack trips with all kinds of modern goodies) the book fell apart in the first 20 pages for me. By the end, I was thinking, OK. This writer not only doesn't know much about primitive living, or about livestock herding, but she also seems to think the way to get your book noticed is to offend three major religions by re-writing portions of the Torah in a manner that is sure to tweak everybody who believes that book is sacred. I suppose that gets you publicity, but it feels like a cheap shot.

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Mon July 23rd, 2012, 6:48 pm

I heard or read somewhere that in ancient times (in some cultures) the women sat on mats woven of straw during that time. Mats would certainly be preferable to just a pile of straw.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon July 23rd, 2012, 7:22 pm

That's just the issue I have with that book -- in subsistence herding, NOBODY sits for very long, especially not women of childbearing age--the years of peak physical ability over a lifespan. At the very least, they were chasing their offspring and trying to keep them from drowning in the water source, falling into the fire, or being trampled under the hooves of the food and labor animals. Not a sedentary job.

If it were a more urban situation, a few privileged women at the top of the pile might have the liesure to sit on straw, mats, or whatever, but the maids who waited on them wouldn't, and the fancy ladies would not care to be have servants with menstrual blood making messes all over the place. The lower-class women, if no one else, would have to figure out some kind of loincloth.

On the same subject, I think that is why boys wore skirts until they were four or five. Little ones can't manage things like points (laces that tied the hose up) or even buttons. They didn't have elastic waists that a toddler could yank down himself when he felt the need; so a short dress provided a modicum of modesty while leaving everything clear for bodily functions. And even if the child didn't make it to the designated place, it's much easier to clean a stone, wood or dirt floor than it is to do laundry when you have to haul the wash water from the well/spring/river and heat it over a fire.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Mon July 23rd, 2012, 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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DianeL
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Post by DianeL » Tue July 24th, 2012, 12:12 am

[quote=""rebecca""]Loved the pic of Roman underwear. Interesting article.[/quote]

Rebecca, if you enjoyed that the follow up post about how fashions come to be, via a study of laced clothing and men in long hair and extravagant clothing might interest you as well. The discussion focusing on subversiveness in clothing I co-opted for my own post, obviously.
"To be the queen, she agreed to be the widow!"

***

The pre-modern world was willing to attribute charisma to women well before it was willing to attribute sustained rationality to them.
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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Tue July 24th, 2012, 8:01 pm

[quote=""MLE""]That's just the issue I have with that book -- in subsistence herding, NOBODY sits for very long, especially not women of childbearing age--the years of peak physical ability over a lifespan. At the very least, they were chasing their offspring and trying to keep them from drowning in the water source, falling into the fire, or being trampled under the hooves of the food and labor animals. Not a sedentary job.
[/quote]

Not to mention the fact that women living in close groups tend to cycle together. That would have been a nightmare for the men if all the women were sitting on mats at the same time. :D

I do think that was the wealthy women who were allowed to sit around though.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Posts: 3562
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue July 24th, 2012, 8:29 pm

[quote=""LoveHistory""]Not to mention the fact that women living in close groups tend to cycle together. That would have been a nightmare for the men if all the women were sitting on mats at the same time. :D
[/quote]
I entirely forgot about that! Although I have personal experience, running a transition home for women and children. Coast Guard boot camp was the most pronounced experience of that phenomenon. After two months or more of no period (due to intense physical activity) all 30 women in the squad bay started AT ONCE! The Coast Guard had only begun letting women in, and the little base store didn't have enough supplies.

They hadn't thought about that problem yet.

But back to the Red Tent, I think the author was working off the Levitical injunction that during mensturation and after a birth, women were considered ceremonially unclean. Which meant that anything they touched was unclean (no serving anyone but themselves) and anything they sat on was unclean (they get to hang out in their own space) and anyone who touched them was unclean (no sex, and leave me the #@! alone, dear). I don't think they had to stay plonked on their bums in a special tent for the whole time, but I do think it was a very nice system to give the women a break.

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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Wed July 25th, 2012, 9:21 am

[quote=""MLE""]I entirely forgot about that! Although I have personal experience, running a transition home for women and children. Coast Guard boot camp was the most pronounced experience of that phenomenon. After two months or more of no period (due to intense physical activity) all 30 women in the squad bay started AT ONCE! The Coast Guard had only begun letting women in, and the little base store didn't have enough supplies.

They hadn't thought about that problem yet.

But back to the Red Tent, I think the author was working off the Levitical injunction that during mensturation and after a birth, women were considered ceremonially unclean. Which meant that anything they touched was unclean (no serving anyone but themselves) and anything they sat on was unclean (they get to hang out in their own space) and anyone who touched them was unclean (no sex, and leave me the #@! alone, dear). I don't think they had to stay plonked on their bums in a special tent for the whole time, but I do think it was a very nice system to give the women a break.[/quote]

Some religious Jews still have this rule. Although I agree there is a certain logic to giving women a break, but don't get me started on the unclean thing!
Currently reading: "Longstone" by L J Ross

rebecca
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Post by rebecca » Thu July 26th, 2012, 4:11 am

I just think from a practical stand point women would have come up with something and I can't imagine any woman who lives a rural existence back then would find the time to simply sit for 4--5 days in every month. It might work if the lady in question had servants but if not..Who cleaned? Who looked after the live stock, who collected the water? And then who did the washing?

I've made no study of this Era, but to wear nothing and sit on straw just doesn't make sense...And MLE. If I ever get around to reading the Red Tent I will pay attention when I get to page 20 :p
Diane thanks for the link about costumes :)

Bec :)

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DianeL
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Post by DianeL » Fri July 27th, 2012, 11:02 pm

"The Red Tent" is one of my many late-adopter books - I still never have gotten around to it. Now I sort of want to, if only to keep your wonderful "voices" in mind as I go!

Rebecca, thank you for reading. :)
"To be the queen, she agreed to be the widow!"

***

The pre-modern world was willing to attribute charisma to women well before it was willing to attribute sustained rationality to them.
---Medieval Kingship, Henry A. Myers

***

http://dianelmajor.blogspot.com/
I'm a Twit: @DianeLMajor

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