Tunic with four gores
The so-called tunic with four gores is extremely widepread among the Viking age reenactors. In this article we would like to find out, where such cut versions come from and may they be used in our costumes at all.
All the tunics that are known from archaeology may conventionally be called 4-gored, because the gores typically consist of several details. Clarifying this point, we shall speak of tunics that have gores at sides, in the middle at front and in the middle at back.
The Viking age’s most prominent representative from this point of view is the upper tunic from Skjoldehamn (Norway, 1050-1090 CE) (pic. 1). It is a tunic-like clothing with gores in the central part at front and at back, as well as with gores at sides, three of which are located at right, two at left. All the gores are triangular and begin approximately at the waist. This tunic has its hole for the head in a drop shape and richly decorated with cords, embroidery and an application from some bright fabric. The wristbands are also decorated by cord and tablet-woven band.
Fragment 55 A (pic. 2) was found at the Hedeby harbour (Jutland, 10-11 century). It represents the remains of 5 fragments sewn together: two trapezoid details expanding downwards, two triangular gores and a stripe of fabric. It is supposed that it is one fourth of the circumference of the tunic’s cut-off hem. As a whole the hem would consist of 4 triangular gores and 8 trapezoid details. Consequently, the gores would be located at the center and at sides.
Also the fragment S 29 (pic. 3) was found in the settlement of Hedeby that represents a narrow triangular gore. By size it is like the aforementioned gores from 55A. It is supposed that this gore was also located at the tunic from the waist to knees.
The tunic from Kragelund (Jutland, 1040-1155 CE) (pic. 4) has 2 central and 2 side gores beginning at the waist. All the 4 gores are sewn in different ways, they may consist of a single piece of fabric or from three pieces. The front central gore has a cut in the middle to make walking (and, probably, riding on horseback) easier. An important moment is that all the gores in the upper part of the tunic are gathered into a tuck.
There are also folds at the front and back gores of the tunic from Moselund (Jutland, 1050-1155 CE) (pic. 5). Otherwise, it is very different from the tunics described earlier. The front and back gores are sewn in rather high, have a cut at the center. The side gores reach (or almost reach) the shoulder seam at the back, partly forming the arm-hole of the sleeve. One of the side gores is assembled from three details, another one from four details.
A source perfectly fitting the common conceptions yet totally unfitting by date may be the Bocksten Man’s tunic (Sweden, 1350-1370 CE) (pic. 2). The tunic has 4 gores, 2 of them consist of 2 details, 2 are whole and one of them has a false hem. All the gores begin at the waist, there are no cuts. It is probably not worth referring to it, but for clarity we have added it to this list.
All the aforementioned clothing elements were made of wool. It allows speaking about the possibility to make woolen tunics for the periods of 11-14 century with four gores beginning from the waist. It is possible that the triangular gores from the waist is a purely Scandinavian trdition of this period, because there are no such findings in Central Europe (by the way, there are few textile findings there in general). But if we compare these tunics with the ones that were in use in Scandinavia before the 11th century (they used to have cuts at sides and no gores), there will be an opinion that gores arrived to Scandinavia from Central Europe and are not a Scandinavian invention. This opinion is held by Thor Ewing. Inga Hagg considers triangular gores to be acceptable not only for outer garments, but for the linen undergarments as well. However, she wrote this about tunics with two side gores and relied on later tunics and ethnography in her research.
Examples of our work
At the pictures above you can see tunics made of semi-coarse wool produced by us. You can find out about the current availability of the handwoven fabric at the eponymous section of our catalog.
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