Saga museum in Iceland -female costume

Mother and son figure at the Saga Museum

Mother and son figure at the Saga Museum

For those of you who follow the other blog that I write for, Happy Sushi Belly, might know that in July I went to Iceland. While there I visited a few different places that gave me some information for my ongoing Viking costume research.

One of these was the Saga Museum in Reykjavik.

Please note – one of the figures displayed below includes a wax interpretation of a female breast. I see nothing wrong with it, but if you find such offensive, you might want to skip this post.

Located near the Viking Maritime Museum (which I didn’t visit), the Saga Museum features 17 scenes from Icelandic Sagas, and the information about the museum claims that they have strived for a high level of authenticity. Along with the displays (wax figures depicting scenes) there are signs, and a descriptive audio guide on MP3 which gives a lot of information about the scene, the time, the location, and the activities.

I did note, however the slight inconsistencies between what I’d researched, and some of the female adult attire displayed.

874

The wax figures representing the earliest settlers of Iceland in the Saga Museum

The wax figures representing the earliest settlers of Iceland in the Saga Museum

For instance, there is a depiction dated to around 874, one of the first people living in Iceland and the woman (Hallveig Fróðadóttir) is wearing an Apron Dress in the priced and fitted style of the 10the century (I think, based on my research so far) without trim of any sort ( on her Apron dress, cloak, or underdress). They’ve also cut the Apron dress under arms in much more of a shaped, curved shape, rather than the simple cuts that I would have predicted.

I’ll be exploring this a bit more in the future.

930

Mother figure wearing a folded apron dress held with "roach" shaped brooches

Mother figure wearing a folded apron dress held with “roach” shaped brooches

The next figure that I was a bit confused by is representing around 930. She wears a pleated under dress with wide sleeves, and a gathered neckline. Over that she wears a peplos-style tabard-like “ApronDress” which has a fold- over neck drape and is fastened with beetle-shaped brooches. From what I’ve researched, the peplos style was fashionable very early in the Viking Age (although the Finnish people of that age may have continued that style.. I haven’t started researching that yet) and it still would have likely been closed on the sides. I also haven’t seen any of these beetle-shaped brooches before either.

Like the previous figure, I’ll be making a future post about this as well in the future.

1000 (Vinland)

Round brooches on her shoulder at the Saga Museum

Round brooches on her shoulder at the Saga Museum

The next female figure that I took note of was depicting a story from 1000. In this scene the woman is wearing an underdress (which has a drawstring neckline, shown open) and a peplos-style, tabard-like “Apron Dress” which is fastened not only to itself at her shoulder – But also to her underdress. This makes me very confused, since the scene is supposed to depict something happening very quickly – unfastening and re-fastening the brooch seems counter-intuitive. The brooches she’s shown wearing are round, in the style of brooches found in Finland.

1000 (Volva)

The Volva at the Saga Museum

The Volva at the Saga Museum

The next peplos-style dress is also from 1000, and the woman wearing it has tortoise-style brooches. Her Apron Dress is also either tabard-style or at least open from waist to hem. Additionally she wears an underdress that has a gathered neckline.

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4 comments on “Saga museum in Iceland -female costume

  1. […] discussed the style of this dress in another post, […]

  2. Great article! I envy your trip to Iceland!

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