A medieval design – the Golden Gown of Queen Margareta.
By Martin Ciszuk, photo: Laila Durán.
In co-operation with the cathedral of Uppsala, Sweden, Durán Textiles have produced a hand printed design based on the woven silk of the famous golden gown of Queen Margareta.
The reproduced screen printed design is in the same scale as the woven original. The color in gold and deep red correspond to the medieval fabric, where the ground is in goldthreads bound by yellow silk and the design is created by thin lines of the ground weave in purple satin. The design consists of a fruit similar to a pineapple surrounded by small flowers and framed by pointed ovals shaped from garlands of ivy with pointed leaves and berries. Where the garlands join there are open crowns and bunches of small pomegranates, which could be interpreted as symbols for royal power and fertility fitting for a royal wedding dress. The weaving technique is called diasper, in modern French lampas, a technique where two warps and two wefts are used. The silk was woven in northern Italy in the beginning of the 15th century. The gold thread is made from a thin gilded strip of silver that has been spun around a core of silk. This makes the fabric very heavy and immensely precious.
The dress in the cathedral of Uppsala is called the golden gown of Queen Margareta. Margareta Valdemarsdotter ruled Denmark, Sweden and Norway and was the creator of the Kalmar union in 1397. There is a tradition that the gown was used as her wedding dress when she, daughter to the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag, as a six year old girl was married to the Norwegian king Hakon in 1363. The gown was hanging at her sepulchral monument in the cathedral in Roskilde until it was taken as a war trophy by the Swedish king Carolus X in the 17th century. It was given to the cathedral of Uppsala after the death of the king, and is still exhibited in the cathedral treasury.
The golden gown is unique as is is the only female medieval gala dress preserved above earth in Europe. The attribution of the dress has been widely disputed among researchers. In 1993 a radiocarbon dating was made by the silk and the linen lining of the dress. This showed that these fabrics had been produced between 1403 and 1439. Queen Margareta died in 1412. The gown is thus hardly her wedding dress, but was presumably worn by her in the later part of her life. Wear marks and mending show that the dress has been used by a living person, but it was probably also used in connection to her funeral. In the medieval age it was common to perform royal funeral processions with effigies of the deceased dressed in their own clothes and regalia.
A green silk under dress contrasts the golden silk of the gown. In front the gown is so long that the wearer has to lift it as she walks. The picture is taken in front of the high altar in Uppsala cathedral.
As a part of the launching of the reproduced design a dress has been made up in the hand printed silk. The original cutting pattern, which is very small, was resized to fit a young slender model. The reproduced dress gives a vision of how the medieval gala dress could have been worn. To give the impression of a heavy gold fabric the printed silk was doubled with cotton. The gown is supplemented with a under dress in green silk, an embroidered belt, embroidered shoes and veils in thin silk. The coiffure is made after the sculpture from the early 15th century that embellishes the sepulchral monument of queen Margareta in Roskilde cathedral. The hair is shaped in braided rolls at the side of the head and around the top of the head lays a pad wrapped with silk ribbons. On top of the pad the veil is fastened under the crown. The crown in the picture is a bridal crown owned by the cathedral of Uppsala, made in medieval style in the 192ies.
The gown is cut from four parts, tight fitting around the bust and waist and flaring out in a wide skirt. In front there is extra length that the wearer has to lift as she walks, in the back there is a wide train. The sleeves are very fragmentary preserved in the original gown, but could be compared with a French 14th century jacket as made in a construction called aux grandes assiettes. The armholes are very deep and wide and the top of the sleeves are shaped with several small gores. The lower parts of the sleeves are not preserved, but based on medieval depictions it can be assumed that they were long and very narrow.
The design printed on cotton will be sold by the meter and as made up shopping bags with red design on both yellow and white ground. The printed silk will come in a gold/red and bluish gray/silver color. Silk scarves with pastel colored ground will also be printed with the design in white. The fabrics and the products will be presented the 12 of May and sold in the cathedral souvenir shop in Uppsala.
Martin Ciszuk sews the dress on the model before the photo session in Uppsala cathedral.
Drottning Margaretas gyllene kjortel i Uppsala domkyrka : The golden gown of Queen Margareta in Uppsala Cathedral / Agnes Geijer, Anne Marie Franzén, Margareta Nockert. Stockholm 1994.
The Reproduction of the golden gown of Queen Margareta, made from printed silk with a pomegranate design.
The gown has a wide train in the back, which accentuates the slender gothic silhouette.
The crown is a bridal grown from Uppsala cathedral made in medieval style in the 1920ies. It is placed on top of the coiffure with braids, a pad of hair and veils in thin silk.
The reconstructed golden gown in Uppsala cathedral, as it might have been worn with under dress, embroidered belt, coiffure, veils and crown.
Laila Durán finishing the reproduced golden gown in the Durán Textile workshop.