Friday, June 20, 2014

Medieval Women and Underwear (Unterhosen)

This is a much debated subject and most representations I've seen of women shown wearing what we today consider underwear are few and far between.

There are the Roman "bikini" women and a few representations of other women wearing underwear, which admittedly are up for debate due to the context of the artwork, eg. Women wearing the 'pants' in the family or women shown wearing underwear that were very dominant or domineering and the idea was that they wore it to be seen 'as a man'.

In any case, I'm not actually debating what has already been presented on this subject yet again, but to add another image or two which I found recently that I have either never seen used (or used very rarely) with the argument "for" women wearing A-typical underwear.  There are a couple of possible issues with both of them, but let's start with the first image.

Baptism of the pagan virgins by Pope Cyriacus in Rome, 1459, Lower Austria, Unknown Artist

These women are clearly wearing something below their waists.  Now, for the possible issues.

As the title implies, this is a baptism of Pagan virgins.  Did these Pagans wear what would be considered underwear when it is assumed or implied by historians that their counterparts did not?  Could the wearing of underwear in the context of a baptism at this point in history be normal and they were not worn otherwise?  Or is it just possible that at this point in history women did wear underwear and a extant example has simply not been found?

Fountain of Youth, ~1411-16, Maestro del Castello della Manta

While this image is decidedly Italian, the underwear debate covers the entire continent, therefore, I chose to include this image in this post.

There is a female in the left foreground who is wearing a very sheer chemise and beneath it can be seen the outline of underwear.  As with the other image, the question for this piece derives from the subject matter.  This image is depicting a fantasy and not a real situation, therefore, is the underwear supposed to also be a fantasy?

So many questions...

No comments: