Authentic arms

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Authentic arms

Postby Edwin Deady on August 14th, 2014, 11:35 am

I like have my arms bare most of the time, I rolled my sleeves up at work and latterly got some short-sleeved shirts. When reenacting in costume several periods have long-sleeved tunics as the standard and I wonder why. Of course we may have evidence that tunics were sleeved but were they always worn covering the forearms? Naked or topless Iron Age warrior are shown so bare arms would seem minor compared to these. Not that I have ever been challenged but kit standards do require long-sleeves.

Raises a broader point in relation to experiential archaeology and its portrayal. If in a tiny way we can reverse engineer the past to gain an impression of their "experiences" then why is it not, for example, legitimate to allow basic reactions to fresh air and sunshine, along with real or pretended hard work, to be made naturally by wearing sleeveless garments or rolling up sleeves? Being working configurations of course they are less likely to figure in formal representations.
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Re: Authentic arms

Postby Livio Asta on August 14th, 2014, 3:25 pm

I can't say yes and i can't say no: it would be confortable, but on the other hand culture often has a strong influence on clothes, even against comfort.

For example, in pictures and paintings depicting Italian workers before 1950 i see often rolled up sleeves but few or no sleeveless shirts nor shirtless men. Then something changed: when i was younger ('80s-'90s) i used to see most bricklayers, gardeners, farmers etc. working topless in the summer. Then, in the very last years, many of them started wearing shirts again because people is more aware about the risks of skin cancer.

So, in this case, it is difficult to guess.
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Re: Authentic arms

Postby Angus M on August 15th, 2014, 12:13 pm

In medieval times sleeves were often detachable, the armpit open to fresh air. I guess it was more difficult to wash and dry clothing then, if you could make it last longer between washes, so much the better. Queen Elizabeth the First famously bequeathed her sleeves to her ladies in waiting: no miserly thing as they were studded with pearls, jewels and gold, all in fine silks. Perhaps in I.A. times sleeves were thus detachable?
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Re: Authentic arms

Postby Denis Grabow on August 15th, 2014, 4:02 pm

I know of a bog find tunic that had the arms seams not sowed but laced with a leather band, if I remember correctly. Which would make rolling up the sleeves a lot easier.
Then there are finds of tunics that were sleeveless on the first glance. Though they were woven very broadly, so the 'shoulders' would lie on or near the elbows, and they were gurted with a belt around the waist to get any resemblance of figure. I am not entirely sure whether they were gaulish, gallo roman or even graeco roman.

Livios mention of sun protection makes sense too, to me. Of course, someone working in the sun all year gets sunburned maybe once, and then is tanned. On the other hand we have the historical belief from many cultures all over the world that tanned skin is boorish, and the fairer the skintone, the higher the social status. So maybe the celts, which were a vain people if we can believe roman authors, did not want to get tanned. Even the naked warriors in battle are described to have had a protective layer of lime, which would not only make them look paler than they are, but also protect their skin from the sun.
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Re: Authentic arms

Postby Matthew Amt on August 18th, 2014, 8:26 am

Angus M wrote:In medieval times sleeves were often detachable, the armpit open to fresh air.


I'm guessing you mean in the Renaissance, since there aren't any surviving tunics from late antiquity or the middle ages that have detachable sleeves, nor any deptictions of such, as far as I know. Doublets from the 16th or 17th centuries, maybe? Since you mention Elizabeth, I mean.

Perhaps in I.A. times sleeves were thus detachable?


Again, there's no indication of that, that I've seen. Darn few artifacts, of course, and no artwork that's going to help much.

Greeks and Romans most often had sleeveless or shortsleeved tunics (until the 2nd century AD for the Romans, at least), but there is plenty of artwork that shows laborers or soldiers doing heavy work, with the tunic worn Tarzan-fashion with one arm and half the chest bare. The Greek "exomis" worked the same way. Or the whole top of the tunic could be dropped down over the belt and worn like a kilt.

There are also numerous depictions of Gauls, Germans, Dacians, etc. wearing only trousers. But I've never seen anything that looked like rolled-up sleeves.

So I'd guess the options would be either to wear a sleeveless tunic, or wear it off one arm and shoulder, or not wear a tunic at all. But I'd avoid making up a fashion or garment construction method when there is no apparent need for it, nor any historical evidence for it.

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Re: Authentic arms

Postby Edwin Deady on August 18th, 2014, 8:46 am

Some groups suggest that Osprey Rome's Enemies (2) (Gallic and British) is a good guide for kit guidance so....

http://www.clandunlop.com/belgae.jpg

makes a case.
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Re: Authentic arms

Postby Edwin Deady on August 18th, 2014, 8:54 am

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Re: Authentic arms

Postby Edwin Deady on August 18th, 2014, 9:03 am

Then there are possible integral shortish sleeves on a tunic that are not separately sewn on.
http://www.druidry.co.uk/wp-content/upl ... 65x300.jpg
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Re: Authentic arms

Postby Denis Grabow on February 19th, 2016, 7:36 am

Edwin, this Sucellus statue looks gallo roman to me. At that time clothing fashion had already adapted to roman styles. I can't see any trousers either.

Though I agree that short sleeves or sleeveless tunics make sense to me. The general climate was warmer than even today. Despite global warming.
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