Vikings at home (part of 2)
Maid for money
Brave, I de equal,
I will thank Hrafnu
I was in the house in a storm of abusive
I Was Adalrad barrier.
Why the warrior
Words barely knit.
(Gunnlaugr Ormstunga. Skaldic poetry. Translation SV Petrova)
In 921-922, the Arab traveler Ahmad ibn Fadlan as secretary of the embassy of the Abbasid Caliph al-Muqtadir visited Volga Bulgaria and wrote a report in the form of travel notes, which described in detail the life and political relations of Oghuz, Bashkir, Bulgar, Rus and Khazars. "I have seen the Rus - he wrote - when they arrived on their trading affairs and at Atilim River. I have not seen [people] with more perfect bodies than they. They are palm-like, fair-haired, red-faced, white in body. ” That is, if the Ruses are Scandinavians, and scientists have no particular doubts about this today, then this means those Vikings who came here to trade. And so Ibn Fadlan met with them.
Here they are, so popular among the women of Scandinavia, "fibula-turtles". (National Museum, Copenhagen)
However, perhaps more important knowledge about the physical appearance of the Vikings give us today the archaeological finds of skeletons of that time. So far, around 500 Viking skeletons have been found in Denmark. Archaeological excavations on the territory of Scandinavia confirm that the men of the Viking era really were beautiful and well-groomed - at least in their best years. Skeletons found during excavations have been preserved to this day, suggesting that the average height of their owners was 5 feet 7,75 in. And the leaders could be no lower than 6 feet, or even higher. The find of the wagon found in the Osieberg grave, decorated with three-dimensional images of male heads made so carefully that literally every detail is very illustrative: the hair on them is combed, the beards are neatly trimmed, the mustaches, the ends of which were braided into braids, are bent upwards. However, the faces of men and women in the Viking Age were more similar than today. The faces of women were more, so to speak, masculine than women today, with more prominent eyebrows. On the other hand, male Vikings were more feminine-looking than men today, with less prominent jaws and brow brows. We can also assume that all of them, both men and women, should have been more muscular than we are today, due to the hard physical work that they did.
Combs are often found in the Viking Age graves. And with them, and tweezers, and all sorts of other cosmetic devices. (National Museum, Copenhagen)
Genetic studies have shown that the Vikings in Western Scandinavia and, consequently, in Denmark, were mostly redheads. However, in Northern Scandinavia, in the Stockholm region, blond hair dominated.
And this, you know what? Cleaner for the ears! (National Museum, Copenhagen)
In any case, redheads or blondes, but the Vikings very much cared for their hair, which is proved by crests made of wood or bone, which are one of the most common types of finds of the Viking era. The Vikings often kept such ridges in caskets, since, apparently, they were objects of great importance to them. The archaeological finds of the Viking beauty objects show that over time they have not changed. In addition to the combs, it is a spoon for cleaning the ears and tweezers. Interestingly, the signs of wear on the teeth indicate that toothpicks were used most actively.
Makeup should also be added to the list of beauty items. For example, a merchant from Moorish Cordoba Ibrahim al-Tarushi, who visited the Vikings trading city of Hedeby, admits that although he found many things strange and did not like it, it must be admitted that its inhabitants are beautiful and skillfully use cosmetics. “They use a special eye paint,” he notes. - From that their beauty does not fade; on the contrary, it is very good for both men and women. ” For example, the English chronicler of the XII century, John Wallingford, already after the end of the Viking era, wrote that in his earlier sources, he had received many very positive reviews about Scandinavian men. Eyewitnesses reported that the latter regularly visited the bath on Saturdays, always combed their hair, dressed beautifully and, therefore, enjoyed enviable success with the ladies.
Gold plated buckles often decorated Viking clothing. (National Museum, Copenhagen)
The same Ibn Fadlan describes the Rus customs related to personal hygiene as very strange and calls them "dirty." But let's not forget that he came to them from a culture in which personal hygiene had a high priority. As a Muslim, he was accustomed to bathe five times a day before praying. That is why they seemed “dirty” to him, but even if the Vikings he met didn’t meet the Muslim standards of cleanliness, they were not dirty or unhygienic from the point of view of the Northern Europeans. Just in their opinion, men from Scandinavia, by the standards of that time, were, on the contrary, quite well-groomed.
Women's hair is also surprisingly well preserved in burials. They were usually long and loose or braided.
We can see it on small silver and bronze female figures. (National Museum, Copenhagen)
The skeletons show that arthritis of the back, arms and knees was a common disease Viking farmers. Many Vikings also suffered from dental problems. Over a quarter of the population had holes in their teeth. Some skulls had only a few teeth at the time of death. Of course, there were some other diseases that also shortened the life expectancy of the Vikings, but the bones, of course, do not show it. First of all, it was pneumonia and inflammation of the wounds for a long time causes the death until the invention of penicillin. There are many written sources from the European Middle Ages, which describe which plants were used to treat certain diseases at that time. However, we can only guess what kind of knowledge the Vikings had about the healing properties of plants and how, using them, the Scandinavian healers achieved a healing effect.
Silver figure of the Viking Age. Perhaps depicts the goddess Freya. (National Museum, Copenhagen)
Whatever it was, but life at that time was difficult. Including in the Viking society. Infant mortality was very high, and the Vikings rarely reached the 35-40 age. Only a few people lived until 50 years. Like today, women often lived a little longer than men.
These are the hairpins-buckles over time have become more fashionable than the "fibula-turtles." (Archaeological Museum, Dublin)
On rune stones and in various written sources, we can read about the bloody dramas that took place in the Viking society, and about the parents who mourned their lost sons. That is, violence was an important cause of death for these people. And, of course, a lot of skeletons were found, which show horrible traces of wounds, each of which was certainly fatal.
Less lucky archaeologists with Viking clothing. Findings of clothes of the Viking Age are very rare. They often consist of small pieces of material that have been preserved for the most part by chance. But our knowledge of the clothing of the Scandinavians is complemented by written sources, as well as images of clothing on small figures and tapestries.
Like today's men and women, the Vikings were dressed according to gender, age, and economic status. Men prefer to wear trousers and tunics, while women wore dresses and wore underwear. Viking Plain clothes were made of local materials, such as wool and linen woven by hands of women. But there were exceptions - that is, clothes made from fabrics brought by merchants or obtained in military campaigns.
Gotland runestone G 268 depicting a man in wide pants. (Historical Museum, Stockholm)
Although homespun matter was used in clothing, it does not mean that it was not stained. And the most popular were bright blue and red colors. Colored yarn in the Viking Age could be produced by boiling matter along with various plants containing dyes. For example, in the clothes of male Vikings, colors such as yellow, red, purple and blue were used. Blue was found only in the burials of rich people, as it was obtained from imported indigo dye, which was very expensive. About 40% of Viking fabric finds were identified as made from flax. Therefore, flax had to become an important plant for the production of Viking clothing. Studies show that to obtain a sufficient amount of material for the manufacture of a tunic requires more than 20 kg of flax. In addition, from the time of sowing flax and until the tunic was sewn, at least 400 hours of labor were required. So the production of clothing in Scandinavia in those years was a very, very laborious business. But in Denmark, however, several places were found in which flax was produced almost on an industrial scale. Thus, flax was supposed to occupy one of the first places in the trading list of goods offered by the Vikings.
The hoard from Hornelund contains two brooches for clothing and a gold ring. These two brooches are the best products of the Viking Age in Denmark. The relief of the brooches was made a punch through the matrix. They are decorated with wire filigree and granulation. Their decoration with foliage and leaves of grapes has its origin in Christian art. They were clearly made by a Danish jeweler in the last half of the tenth century.
Finds from graves of wealthy people show that belonging to a particular class of clothes should always be imported. The higher classes thus demonstrated their wealth, decorating it with silk and gold threads, and taking Byzantium as a model. In addition, the Vikings complemented their clothes with jewelry and fur of various animals.
Fashion was simple. Women usually wore a dress on the straps with underwear (shirt) and a skirt under it. Such a dress was tight-fitting, and it was sewn of coarse material, and wedge-shaped inserts were used to give it shape. Cover it resembled a sundress. At each shoulder strap stabs hairpin-shaped brooch tortoiseshell. It was customary to connect both brooches with a chain of beads.
Such depicted a female Viking English artist Angus MacBride.
Women of this period also wore a cape on their shoulders, which was fastened with a small round or "trilobite brooch." Cloak and dress could be decorated with woven borders and stripes of fur.
A woman’s obligatory garment was a belt with small leather wallets for storing small items such as sewing needles and flint.
The clothes worn by children reflected their parents, both in type and in subtlety. Young girls wore sundresses, while boys wore tunics and pants like adult men.
An Arab diplomat Ibn-Fadlan wrote that he saw during his travels Viking women wearing green glass necklaces. By the way, bulging brooches were found in different parts of Europe, where the Vikings settled, including England, Ireland, Russia and Iceland. This indicates that Viking women may also have taken part in the expeditions of their husbands.
Viking women. Fig. Angus MacBoyaid. The trilobite brooch is clearly visible on the woman’s chest in the center.
The most common clothing of men was a tunic. resembled a long shirt without buttons, which could go down to the knees. On the shoulders of the men wore raincoats, the ends of which were fastened with a beautiful brooch-hairpin. The cloak was assembled on the arm opposite that in which he held a sword or an ax. Thus, one could immediately see whether the Viking was right-handed or left-handed.
The Vikings did not wear earrings. But they brought them from their travels. So on the territory of Scandinavia they are found. (National Museum, Copenhagen)
We don't know much about the shape of the pants that the Vikings wore. There is an image from which it can be judged that they were wide to the knee and narrow to the knee and, moreover, wrapped in leather straps. As a shoe men wore leather shoes, reminiscent of Native American moccasins or fairly high boots. Caps were made of a material or leather.
Silver hoard Tersleva in Zealand contains silver 6,6 kg, including 1751 coins. 1708 of the coins of Arab origin. The latest coin dated 944 year, that is, this treasure was buried in the second half of the tenth century. There are many rings for the neck and hands, there are chains with toiletries and jewelry. There is a dish with four cups of Northern Europe and chased big bowl, which is likely from Persia. (National Museum, Copenhagen)
In this photo, the same treasure in the museum. In the distance, to the far right, at the top are golden “fibula-turtles” (National Museum, Copenhagen)
Since there were no pockets in their clothes, the men on their belts were wearing straps or rope. On them a man could wear a purse or a knife. A wallet could contain not only money - most often Arab dirhams, but various necessary little things: a comb, tweezers, a nail file, a toothpick, playing bones.
To be continued ...
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