Episode 33: Ooh, Crafty Lady

Summary

Part two of women as artisans. Join Em and Jesse as they discuss more about the work women did in the Middle Ages, including quite a lot about guilds and textiles, including spinning, embroidery, quilting, and silkworking. Find out which guilds accepted women, how were they treated, to what extent were they involved in local politics, and also some interesting notes about how Norwegian dried cod became popular among West African immigrants to the US.

Annotations

Recommended text for this episode:

Reassessing the Roles of Women as ‘Makers’ of Medieval Art and Architecture edited by Therese Martin. Leiden: Brill, 2012.

Maryanne Kowaleski and Judith M. Bennett, “Crafts, Gilds, and Women in the Middle Ages: Fifty Years after Marian K. Dale,” Signs 14.2 (Winter 1989): 474–501.

Also recommended:

Marian K. Dale, “The London Silkwomen of the Fifteenth Century,” Economic History Review, 1st ser., 4 (1933) 324–335.

Kay Lacey, “The Production of ‘Narrow Ware’ by Silkwomen in Fourteenth and Fifteenth Century England,” Textile History 18.2 (1987): 187–204.

For the London Guild ordinances discussed in this episode, see Frances Consitt, The London Weavers’ Company (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), 1: 229–30, 292, 312–14, 320.

1/ We have probably linked to this before, but check out this video for more on the Lord Mayor of London and how to get the job. Of interest, although the city of London has been around since Roman times, the office of mayor has only existed since 1189 (it converted to lord mayor in 1354). Although now lord mayors do not serve multiple consecutive terms, the first-ever mayor of London, Sir Henry FitzAlan (aka Sir Henry fitz Ailwin de Londonstane), served 24 consecutive terms.

2/ For the female Viking warrior, see episode 20, note 11. Also https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/researchers-reaffirm-famed-ancient-viking-warrior-was-biologically-female-180971541/

Boudica (Iceni–i.e. British Celtic–queen in the first century CE who fought the Roman forces in Britain) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica

In her introduction to her new translation of Beowulf, Maria Dahvana Headley discusses women as warriors and the ways in which the assumptions of (male) scholars have hidden them.

3/ For more on silkworking and women in guilds in England, see Maryanne Kowaleski and Judith M. Bennett. “Crafts, Gilds, and Women in the Middle Ages: Fifty Years after Marian K. Dale,” Signs 14.2 (Winter 1989): 474–501.

For the London Guild ordinances discussed, see Frances Consitt, The London Weavers’ Company (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), 1: 229–30, 292, 312–14, 320.

See also all articles referenced above!

4/ For more on the way women’s work is devalued (and on the fact that the entrance of women into a field can devalue it): https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/upshot/as-women-take-over-a-male-dominated-field-the-pay-drops.html

5/ The women/men ratio comes from Kowaleski and Bennett (see above) and Maryanne Kowaleski, “The History of Urban Families in Medieval England,” Journal of Medieval History 14.1 (1988): 47–63, esp. 54–56.

6/ The information on women’s guilds in Europe comes largely from Kowaleski and Bennett (see above).

7/ The information on Ireland (and the value of a needle) is from Jenifer Ní Ghrádaigh, “Mere Embroiderers? Women and Art in Early Medieval Ireland,” in Reassessing the Roles of Women, ed. Martin (Leiden: Brill, 2012): 93–128, esp. 93.

8/ The information on the stole in Girona, Spain is from Pierre Alain Mariaux, “Women in the Making: Early Medieval Signatures and Artists’ Portraits (9th–12th c)” in Reassessing the Roles of Women, ed. Martin (Leiden: Brill, 2012): 393–427, esp. 419.

9/ Gee’s Bend Quilts: https://www.soulsgrowndeep.org/gees-bend-quiltmakers
https://www.pbs.org/video/alabama-public-television-documentaries-quiltmakers-of-gees-bend/

10/ Alisa LaGamma, “The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design without End,” African Arts 42.1 (Spring 2009): 88–99, esp. 90–91. The artist I mention is El Anatsui (b.1944, Ghanian): https://art21.org/artist/el-anatsui/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw2NyFBhDoARIsAMtHtZ77XuccoWzMzx-3uQgYcZUDdgfPm-qg6ilxCPvdWKtZ0Aczehc3Mn4aAsiZEALw_wcB

You can check out Bisa Butler’s quilts on her Instagram here and at the Art Institute here.

Kente cloth is specifically from Ghana; you can see a cool map of different fabrics of Africa here.

11/ For more on Yinka Shonibare, see episode 11, note 21 and episode 14, note 21. Also Google him! http://yinkashonibare.com/

For more on Dutch Wax Fabric (and Shonibare): https://hyperallergic.com/335472/how-dutch-wax-fabrics-became-a-mainstay-of-african-fashion/

12/ Minnesota, dried fish (pre-lutefisk), and Nigerian immigrants: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/where-to-find-lutefisk

For those not familiar, lutefisk is fish preserved with lye.

Concerning cod.

13/ Women working in wood and stone! See Jenifer Ní Ghrádaigh, “Mere Embroiderers? Women and Art in Early Medieval Ireland,” in Reassessing the Roles of Women, ed. Martin (Leiden: Brill, 2012): 93–128, esp. 99.

Also see: Nancy L. Wicker, “Nimble-Fingered Maidens in Scandinavia: Women as Artists and Patrons,” in Reassessing the Roles of Women, ed. Martin (Leiden: Brill, 2012): 865–902, esp. 867.

14/ 9,000-year-old linen woven with hemp from Çatalhöyük: https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/centuries-old-fabric-found-in-catalhoyuk-61883

Medieval Viking and Early Modern Scandinavian cloth made with hemp: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep02686

The Shakespeare quote is from Twelfth Night I.iii

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