Dressing up in Polish

Today’s prompt in CoBloWriMo is Vocabulary. These past months I have expanded my vocabulary quite a bit: due to the fact that I’ve chosen a subject that deals with things not so familiar to me, I’ve had to learn myself a foreign language.

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Princess Catherine Jagiellon was Polish, so naturally she had national clothing items in her wardrobe. Seeing the unfamiliar names and not knowing what they were I just dove right in and contacted some museum professionals in Krakow to help me out in my quest. With their kind help I got hold of some literature to get me started. Bramkas, zawicies, giermaks and kitliks started gradually to take shape in my mind, and I also started to understand other words and sentences and finally learned to read the language a little. Handy skill when about half of the literature you need is in Polish.. I by no means think that it’s that easy, but so far I’ve managed quite well, and the more I read the better I get. So not only I’ve expanded my vocabulary with new clothing terms, but also a whole new language. The things you do for your costuming hobby.. 😀

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How it all got started

Sorry I missed a couple of days of CoBloWriMo! Here’s a new post for today. Today’s prompt is Origin Story, so I’m going to tell you a little about what got me into all this.

It all got started a few years ago when I for some personal reason (don’t quite remember what) needed to read the inventory of Catherine Jagiellon’s possessions or the trousseau (can’t remember which one either). You can read her origin story here, by the way. I had questioned the image that people have about her, at least here in Finland, and what was reinforced in popular culture like novels, or even scientific studies. It seemed a bit one-dimensional to me from the material point of view, and I knew there had to be more. Anyway, the documents dazzled me and left me stunned with their descriptions of her gold tissue gowns, jewel decorated headdresses and gold embroidered silk curtains for the bed, among other things. I wanted to try my hand in something easy first since I hadn’t made a renaissance dress before, and chose a violet cloth dress with black velvet bodice from the inventory. The earlier posts in this blog are about making of that dress.

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So, from a personal interest and the need to know more rose the idea behind my thesis: I want to make the documents easily available, explain them and make the Duchess of Finland alive, show that she was much more than some rigid figure in her black Spanish dress.

Current Project

Today’s prompt in CoBloWriMo is “Current project”, so I’m going to tell you a little more about the hands-on side of it. In a previous post I’ve explained what my thesis is about, so I won’t stick to any details about that.

In the past six months, after a trip to Krakow in January, I’ve learned myself a bit Polish to be able to read the original documents and source books, and spent dozens and dozens of sleepless nights and work filled days reading and writing. The theory part is now finished, and it’s time to start actually making the garments.

At the moment I’m still partly deciding what garments to make and partly measuring and shopping already. I’ve decided that the dress will include a shirt, a partlet, an underdress, a kirtle and a gown, and a gold coif and a veil. I may or may not add some extra accessories, but we’ll see about that as I go on.

CoBloWriMo! + This is me

I stumbled upon this fun thing called CoBloWriMo (Costume Blog Writing Month) which is this August, and as I finally have a little more time on my hands, decided to participate. It encourages you to blog daily (or every other day, or weekly, or bi-monthly) about certain given things. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post, but at least I’ll try to do it  and in this first post I’m supposed to introduce myself. I realized that I have never really done that properly -and even if I had, it was a few years and a few goals ago. So here goes!

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I’m a museum lady and a medieval and early modern era history enthusiast from Finland. I have a BA in archaeology from the University of Turku, and I work at the medieval Turku Castle as a cashier. Currently I’m writing my master’s thesis, which -you guessed it!- is about costume history. I started this blog a few years ago as a dress diary and a place to collect all my thoughts and acquired information about the ambitious project I had started. The project since grew to become the thesis, and now I’m using this blog to record my progress. Hopefully you enjoy it!