Wednesday, March 25, 2009


These three sculptures from Ghent once belonged to the mantlepieces of old townhouses across the city. They all wear a frilled veil and a crown-like thingy underneath it. The women on the first and last pic are wearing their hair loose, the middle one wears it in short braids. I have only seen these in the Ghent-region and not anywhere else. So they might be a very local fashion.

Has anyone ever seen anything like these crown-like things before? They seem to be made from semi-circular rosette like pieces is some kind of metal. They might be completely circular and then partly covered by the veil so that what you see is only part of the crown.
I'm anxious to know wether anyone of you has ever seen these from other places than Ghent en if you have maybe come accross archaeological finds of metal jewelry that resemble the crowns on these sculptures.

In the mean time I'm preparing a small lecture about frilled headwear for the LHO (a medieval reenactment society) on Saturday. It will be a good excercise in preparation of my thesis defendance in June.
I'm still writing crazy, so many pages still have to be put on paper before mid May!


EwKa said...

It's look like circlets with mounts (flower-shaped, compound with a few metal pieces). I saw circlets under frilled veils but there were english monumental brasses.

Isis said...

Ah yes, but those are a lot smaller. I know what you mean, I have seen these in other regions in the Low Countries and some places in Germany as well. Of course it is possible that the crowns/circlets in my post above are the same thing but then much bigger.
If you know any finds of the smaller circlets that would be great too. I only know one from Kopenhagen but that one is more like a crown than like a circlet.

Mikkel Frederiksen said...

My first thought was that i was somekind of thick lace og orkis-type thing.
Maby even braided (fake?) hair?

It's pretty hard to tell from such a small picture.

Isis said...

hi mikkel! i added a larger photo for more detail.
it does not look like braided hair, it is not usually depicted like this. what do you mean by "lace og orkis-type thing"?

Mikkel Frederiksen said...


Orkis is "in the same ballpark" as lace.

If it is made really thick or in several layers I guess i could look something like that on those sculptures.
Even though I am having second thoughts about this after seeing the larger picture.

Lace is often used to finish the edges of fabrics. So I thought that it could be used to finish the lower edge of the headband that some women wear under their veils. (Im sorry that I don't know the correct term for this type of thing)

I don't even know if lace was invented at the time, but perhaps some other similar technique?

Isis said...

aha ok, i think you mean tatting lace.
lace wasn't invented untill the very end of the 15th century, around 1490 or so. it became very popular during the 16th.
so it is very unlikely these ladies are wearing lace trims on their foreheads.
i'm still thinking more in the direction of metal circlets.
but thank for your input! it's always interesting to hear other people's thoughts!!

EwKa said...

I have got a few nice pictures of really big flowers on circlet band. Unfortunatelly smaller circlets are show without details... The problem is that usually circlets are placed on the line of hairs and are almost invisible under the veils border.
BTW, I can't find your email adress so I can't send you those pictures

Marianne said...

There's a 13th c. Spanish type of headdress that consists of a parchment shape, sometimes quite tall, with linen bands wrapped over it, sometimes with embroidery.

I'm not at home so I have few resources but here are some links for you:

A rather rough image:

See the second word document in this one. It contains a "better" sculpture and a few other useful images:

One of these bands of cloth is preserved in the museum of Las Huelgas, and I might just have that article saved somewhere, if you're interested.

Not anywhere near Ghent, but I find that often the North-South divide isn't as wide as some people think :)

Isis said...

Hi Ewka, my email is [isis dot sturtewagen (at) telenet dot be]
I'm really looking forward to receiving your information!!

Hello Marianne,
I know about the Spanish frilled toqua's. I have Anderssons article on them in my library. However if you should have this one: Gómez-Moreno, Manuel: El Panteón Real de las Huelgas de Burgos; Madrid, 1946. I would really love to see it. Also, you might be interested in this:
It's a report about the extant frilled headwear pieces from Burgos.


Marianne said...


Sorry, I don't think I have that. Some of these are ironically very hard to get in Spain :/ When I get back home (in a month or so) I'll check just in case, but I think what I have is Anderson's, too.

That article (rapport.pdf) is the one I thought would definitely interest you.

Anyway... I'll check what I have when I get back... if I do have anything else that's useful.

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