A MEDIEVAL WOMAN'S LIFE - AT HOME
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Women's Hats and Hennins
Many contemporary images show men of all classes wearing this style of hat. Images and iconography also suggest that the cocked cap was also popular with upper class women, especially for outdoor activities such as riding and hunting. An ivory mirror case from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, at left, shows a noble woman wearing a cocked cap over her veil. The mirror case was made in Paris, dated to 1320 and is five inches high.
workers in the field and the merchant classes are recorded as having
worn woven hats or plaited hats of straw. Shown at left is a detail
from the Manesse Codex showing a woman gathering wheat in the
fields wearing what appears to be a straw hat. Later time periods show
clearer images of women in straw hats like the 1490 Grimani Breviary
detail for the month of June.
Some of the caps which were worn underneath
featured a wide black band folded back from the front by the brow. The
fold helped secure the rest of the hennin to the head. A circular veil
was draped over the hennin in such a manner that it's edge came just
above the eyes, the remainder and most part falling behind the head.
was often caught up with a jewel at a point in the centre of the forehead.
A veil was almost always worn although some depictions in contemporary
art show them being worn without. At right, dated at 1464, Van Der Weyden's
Portrait of a Woman shows a young woman in a hennin and veil.
This newer style of hennin could support the weight of more decoration and became heavily decorated and set with gemstones and pearls. The fabrics used to construct it were heavier and often of geometrically patterned brocades which themselves, were stiffer by nature than the previous silks.
In an extremely short period of time another
decorative feature made an appearance- two silver wires attached to
the front of the hennin like a butterfly's feelers and supported the
veil in new and interesting ways. This
was the Butterfly hennin. Shown at right is a detail from 1511,
The Gift of Kalmthout by Van der Weyden, which clearly shows
the wire framework under the veil.
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