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Some time during the mid-1300's, an unknown writer, usually referred to as "the Pearl Poet"--a contemporary of Geoffry Chaucer--wrote a work called Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

 

 

Sir Gawain & the Green Knight

a Paper Doll Set by David Claudon

 

 

The work centers on the exploits of the nephew of King Arthur, Sir Gawain, who accepts a challenge and defends the honor of the king by chopping off the head of The Green Knight. By magic, the Green Knight survives with head in hand and challenges Gawain to meet him in a year to receive his blow.

Gawain here wears a particolored silk paltock (or pourpoint) from about 1350, which acts as a foundation to tie the sleeves and hose to. The sleeves and hose are tied on with points which are fastened to eyelet holes on the paltock.

From Herbert Norris, Medieval Costume and Fashion, New York: Dover Publications, 1999, page 222.

 

Read Jessie L. Weston's online translation of the story.

Click on each picture to see if full size.

sir gawain paper doll

Sir Gawain wears a shaped garment, called at the end of the period the cotehardie. Constructed in four parts, this particolored garment is worn over the paltock. A gold band covered with silver buttons attachs the front.

[Norris, 220]

 

The sleeves, which actually only come to the elbow were either inserted in the armhole or cut all in one. The white streamer, which is called a tippet, is sewn round each the arm. Tippets were generally only white.

Sir Gawain's gold armor includes a breast plate worn under the silk japon [similar to the cotehardie], greaves, chain mail, and 2 helmets, one of which is surmounted with a bird and a circlet of filigree with diamonds.

The belt is worn before natural waist and had the small knife and sword attached to it.

According to the story, Gawain's shield was scarlet with a gold pentagram.

 

When Gawain goes in search of the Green Chapel to meet his obligation, he ends up at the castle of a lord. The Lord and Gawain agree to give each other whatever they get during the day.

The Lord goes off hunting. The first day he brings back deer; the second day, a boar; the third day, a fox. Gawain is kissed by the Lady the first day; twice by the Lady the second day; three times by the Lady the third day.

 

Note: To place the arm with the fox onto the figure, score along the bottom edge of the hood at the shoulder and slip the tab into the slit.

 

 

 

Says Paul Deane's translation:

Gawain felt that fortress had a fine lord:
a man in his prime, massively made;
his beard all beaver-brown, glossy and broad;
stern, stalwart in stance on his sturdy thighs,
his face bold as fire, a fair-spoken man --
who certainly seemed well-suited, he judged,
to rule there as master of excellent men.

Here the Lord is dressed for hunting wearing a short "Riding Houpeland," open up the front for ease of riding. His sleeves are cut in the shape of bagpipes: close at the armhole, bagpipes at elbow and then tightly buttoned on the lower arm. Upon the black hood, he wears a second hood which becomes a cap. Says Norton (250):

It is put on in the new way, the liripipe binding it to the head, and the ample shoulder part (purposely cut larger than hiterto) made to stand up on the left side of the head like a coxcomb.

Curious about the symbolism of the animals? Check out Guinevere Shaw's "The Meaning and Symbolism of the Hunting Scenes in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight."

The Lord's Wife shows great interest in him and becomes flirtatious, trying to seduce him. Her love games are part of his utimate test.

Here the Lady wears a quarterly particolored cotehardie--the same name as the men's garment, but here referring to a gown. Later this garment is called a kyrtle. Around her hips is a rich belt of gold and jewels. Jewels also run along the shoulder area. The sleeves are buttoned. She wears the white tippets like Gawain.

[Norris, 232]

 

On the third day,the Lady also gives a magic green girdle which she says will protect him from all harm. He wraps it hidden around his waist. That gift Gawain fails to give the Lord and it causes his great shame.

 

The girdle is alternately referred to as a silk "lace" or girdle wrought in green with gold. Says Jesse Weston's translation: With that she loosened a lace that was fastened at her side, knit upon her kirtle under her mantle. It was wrought of green silk, and gold, only braided by the fingers...

 

All works here are © 2004 David Claudon. The website was created by David Claudon, March 22, 2004. Last update, April 27, 2004

 

 

[ Home ] [ Rich East ] [ The Cleopatra Costume ] [ Commedia dell'Arte ] [ Cyrano ]
[ Dressing for Shakespeare ][ The Iliad ][ Decorating Forties Style ]
[ Decorating for a Fifties Christmas ] [ To Kill a Mockingbird ] [ A Rainbow Honor Roll ] [ Miniatures ]
[ Paper Dolls ] [ Santa Collection ] [ Clarence ]
[ St. Bernardine's Church ]