Friday, August 26, 2011

Taking Apart Images - Part 3.1 - The Choir Stalls in Munich by Erasmus Grasser

There are a set of oak choir stalls at the cathedral in Munich that were carved by Erasmus Grasser during 1495 - 1502.  The stalls themselves burned during World War II (rebuilt in 1996), but Erasmus' original apostle figures still remain.  I have not found a list of which figures comprise the choir stalls, but I have collected copies of a few of the carvings.  My main focus on disseminating these wood carvings is the gurtil fashion.

Here are some of my personal assumptions concerning these carvings.  I am fully aware that as these are religious personages they would likely not be shown with any outward ostentation.  In fact, these gurtils are likely about as plain as you would find in Germany at this period in time.  That does not mean that they would have only been worn by the clergy, but until I acquire more examples, I'm willing to leave this style to the clergy.

Throughout Europe and the SCA, there are many conventions used in wearing a gurtil (belt).  The types I'm seeing primarily in these carvings are as follows:
  1. Fairly narrow in width - anywhere from ~1" to 1-1/2" [~2.5cm - 4cm] (Not shown in these carvings, but from my own observation, women's gurtils tended more toward the ~1/2" to 3/4", being more narrow than their male counterpart.)
  2. Most likely made of leather - This assumption is based on how the end hangs away from the buckle. Leather would make the bend in the gurtil more gradual as opposed to fabric which would hang directly from the buckle.
  3. Undecorated
  4. The gurtils are not much longer than what was needed to buckle them about the waist or hips.
  5. The end of the gurtil does not have a metal cover or tip.
  6. There are prong holes in the gurtil down the leather to within approximately an inch of the end.
Now for the examples, which are in no particular order...

This first is listed as Andreas in German, which I'm assuming is Andrew.

Gurtil detail - My one exception... It is possible that this gurtil had a metal tip on the end or that the leather was this shape for a reason.  Since there is a hole near the end it indicates to me that perhaps it is a bend in the leather, not a metal tip.  This is the only gurtil of this type in this set.

This next example is on an apostle I have yet to name, so for now he is Unnamed 1.

Detail for Unnamed 1

Another for which I do not have a name, hence, Unnamed 2...


As for the buckles, they are D-shaped in construction and I find it interesting that two of the gurtils are laced left and two are laced right.  Was this intended for artistic symmetry as opposed to indicating whether the represented individuals were either right or left handed?  Very likely the former, but it would be interesting to determine if there was more to it than that.

After doing a bit of research, I realized that an entire post will need to be devoted to buckles alone.  Therefore, that's what I'm going to do!

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