|Early winter: It's that time of
year again, when you can't open a shop door without
a string of jingle bells making you jump as they whang against the
of the door.
However, it's a good time to consider adding bells to your 14th-through-15th century outfits, because they're in the stores all over.
Note the bells on the belt of the squire, and the decorated hose!
On Lijsbeth, you can see the equitorial seam on the bells. Also: it's hard to see at this size, but her houppelande is tied at several points down the front opening!
|According to the Museum of
London's book Dress
Acessories bells of brass, tin, copper, gunmetal and pewter have
found in deposits from the later Middle Ages. There are household
accounts of gold bells bought for clothing as well -- but these were
melted down for something else after they went out of fashion, so it is
not surprising that few, if any, have been found.
|Bells come in two basic forms:
bells for clothing were of both these types, and were always fastened
some variety of clothing or fancy belt, baldric, collar, or
I've seen some folks who wear them on a string looped over their belt,
but I think this may be unsupported by the evidence.
Many people believe that the ornate strings of gold-colored thingies depending from gold collars on the young people in the Tres Riches Heures paintings may have been gold bells.
|The drawing above right, from Dress
Accessories shows "ladies and gallants engaging in various games",
all but one being rumble bells: bells
on a baldric, bells suspended from a belt on silk cords, so that they
jangled by the hips, or clapper bells attached directly to a hip
Both men and women of high estate wore these bells.
"The bethrothal portrait of Lysbeth van Duvenvoorde, painted c. 1430, shows her wearing a high-waisted girdle to which rumber bells were fitted by means of plied, bi-colored cords so that they jangled on her hips." See above for a small version. Link to very large image at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Here is a picture of my in my first version of such a belt, over my green wool houppelande. I used bells from a bell-wreath of the sort sold at Christmas, bought at Marshall's/TJ Maxx type store for $12, it gave me about 25 bells in bright-and-shiny, and 25 in matte gold. These are the matte gold ones. It wasn't nearly as noisy as I expected, unless I was dancing.
The cords are a commercial
plied cord of gold and medium green, laced through the decoration on
the belt, which I've had for a long time.
|Should you be interested in
adding bells to your wardrobe, go to a bead
store that stocks sand cast brass jingle bells from India (see
are most like the medieval jingle-type bells extant, in that they have
leaf or herringbone
patterns on the 'petals' and they are cast in one form, as are many
not all) of the medieval examples.
Although the very shiny modern jingle bell may have been the desired end-product for the medievals, my opinion is that the shininess will make it appear too modern when wearing it with garb, and I find the Indian bells to have a sweeter tone.
Here's a picture of my husband and myself wearing our bell-baldrics. (click for larger)
|All material ©2000 Cynthia Virtue||Email Author with comments|
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