A place for Drachenwald's scribes to hang out, learn, discuss and critique each others work.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Women's hands in medieval MSs

The other day on twitter, someone commented: "Have you noticed how many images of women conceal their hands? Silencing body language...", and my immediate response was, I can think of plenty of women in medieval MSs whose hands are visible! In reply to that, the suggestion was made that they were all either (a) praying or (b) doing feminine tasks like spinning or baking. So I went to the Manesse codex and pulled out images of women playing chess, women handing out tournament wreaths, women watching tournaments, and then to the British Library and found women holding swords, hitting men, dancing, playing musical instruments, and more.

So I decided this was something that needed some systematic research, and the result of that research is available here. It is incomplete but will be updated as I have time. I've started with the British Library, and so far, I haven't found a single woman whose hands weren't visible -- which means that this collection is going to end up being a pretty extensive one of not only women's hands but women as well. So if you're looking for other information about medieval women -- what they did, what they wore -- check it out, you'll probably find something interesting.

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