Categorizing Race and Fashion
This is an image of Professor T.J. Tallie at Washington and Lee University. Dr. Tallie has dedicated his career to teaching students about complex subjects such as race, gender, and the intersection of both in modern global history. In this photo, he holds a small totem of the Virgin Mary, positioned next to a 19th century French “fashion” print of various African clothing styles as perceived by Europeans.
In early modern New Spain, Dr. Tallie would have a racial designation, not set by himself, but according to a system which prized “white blood” above all. This system would have governed (in theory) what Dr. Tallie could wear, his employment, and social interaction. His racial standing would have been visualized through casta paintings. Not dissimilar to Dr. Tallie’s 19th century French print of African clothing, casta paintings were devised to order racial mixing among the three major groups that inhabited the Spanish colony of New Spain: Indian, Spanish, and Black. Dr. Tallie’s totem of the Virgin Mary represents the essential role of the church in underpinning an often violent system of racial purity (limpieza de sangre) and social hierarchy in Spanish colonies. However, Dr. Tallie’s fierce sense of individual fashion demonstrated in this photo represents the formidable challenges to this system by those designated as racially “other” by Spanish invaders.
The College Kid Casta
One of the biggest points I picked up from the two readings was how clothing was the visual display of one’s socioeconomic status, or basically how much money they had. I took this concept and made the “college kid casta,” where clothing was tiered in dorm drawers by how much effort a student put in in their clothing. The bottom tier is cheap, cotton t-shirts (the least amount of effort for a student). The middle tier is jeans and cotton tops – a student who tries harder, but isn’t quite the most fantastic. Then the top tier is cashmere sweaters, satin tops, and dresses – the student rocking these garments is on their very best game. My “college kid casta” reflects traditional 18th century castas from the Americas as it too represents different types of people the different clothes they’re wearing, in that same tiered fashion.
The Indian and the Nun
In our reading for Tuesday, there was an interesting story in which the New Mexico Indians revolted against the Spanish and the chief attacked a statue of a Virgin with a macana. When the chief stuck the statue, however, it was unable to be destroyed. This story reflects on the unrest of the suppressed races by the Spanish, such as Indians and Blacks. It also demonstrates the incredible power that people put on religion at that time.
I chose to take this image because of the parallel to the story of the Virgin of the Macana and the set up of these works of art in the Washington and Lee library. In the image, there are two painting that feature Indians in war attire, ready to fight. In both painting, the Indians are faced as if moving in the direction of the statue in the corner of the image I took. Feature in the corner there in a metal statue of a nun. A nun is extremely close to a virgin because of their vow of chastity taken when entering the nunnery. It is also significant that the nun statue is made of metal because metal is difficult to destroy just as the virgin statue could not be destroyed.
Modern Day Casta
I took this picture of my friend Kitty Lambrechts to act as a modern day high-class casta. Due to her light skin, Kitty would be considered at a fairly high standing in society. In the Katzew reading, it is said that later in the 18th century, castas of the more affluent class included more objects and most were shown doing leisurely activities, like reading or playing cards. Katzew also wrote that they were frequently pictured with food and drink. For this reason, Kitty is playing a game on her phone, and is pictured with a snack and a drink. Although her clothes are not flashy or extravagant, they do signal that she is more affluent because she looks very warm and her clothing appears to be good quality.
This is a picture of my friend Julia. I put a painting effect on the photo to represent the casta paintings, which identified the social stratification in colonial Mexico. I divided the photo into 16 squares to represent the 16 divisions of races and social classes. The Katzew reading underscored that these paintings stressed the importance of the colony’s wealth. They did this by giving close attention to the figures clothing, jewelry, and different objects in the photo. Julia would have been of a high class because of her light skin. Since she was considered elite, the painter would depict her wealth by the many necklaces and bracelets she wore. Also, the background displays different perfumes, candles, and a purple flower. These would have been considered luxury items, and would have been in the picture to stress her wealth and supreme status.
Racial Hierarchy in Spanish America
In early Spanish American cities, elegant and luxurious clothes were the staple among women of every ethnicity. However, there was an extreme rift between what was socially acceptable for certain races to wear. The most highly touted racial class was the pure Spaniards. Next was the acknowledged Indian population. Lastly, the African American community was considered the lowest. African American women were ridiculed for wearing any type of expensive or beautiful clothing or apparel. However, no written laws or customs enforced this idea; it was simply the reaction and critique of other citizens that would create this racial hierarchy. This racial discrimination was supposed to control the expression of self-image and social status. Pictured above is my beautiful friend MaKayla, dressed elegantly and spectacularly, much like the African American women would in early Spanish America. Unfortunately, she might have been ridiculed for wearing this lovely clothing in public, no matter how fantastic and amazingly tasteful her outfit was. She is posing by a Spanish-influenced tapestry in my dormitory.
Castas by Century
In this picture, Sydney is portrayed as a slave in both the 18th century (left) and 19th century (right). When historians recovered castas, they discovered that there was a very dramatic change of how people were portrayed in them from the 18th to 19th century. In Mexico, social classes were determined by race. In the 18th century, on special occasions, people of all social classes would dress extravagantly, making it very difficult to distinguish who was from what class. However in the 19th century, people could no longer alter race by clothes. On the picture on the left, the 18th century Sydney is considered an extension of her owner, so is dressed elegantly. However, attitudes in the 19th century changed, and people believed it was pathetic for Sydney to attempt to dress well. This is why she is in less extravagant clothes that more appropriately display her low social status.
Labels and Colonial Mexico
The image of color pencils represent the endless mixing of races in Colonial Mexico. Red and blue make purple. However, there’s light purple, violet, purple violet, mauve and countless others. Furthermore, there are even different variations of red and blue such as red orange, flaming red, even candy apple red; blue, baby blue, dark blue, and even blue jeans.
The Colonial period of Mexico experienced a great amount of racial mixing. Racial mixing occurred between the main inhabitants: Native Americans, Blacks, and the colonizing Spaniards themselves. To keep up the order of noble rule and normalcy in transition from Spain to the new colony, the Spaniards implemented a system of identification. A mix between a Spaniard and an Indian? A mestizo. A Spanish-Black mix? A mulatto. A Black-Indian mix? A zambiago. However, what if a mestizo mated with a Spaniard? Or a Black? Or an Indian? What if that Spanish-Indian mix mated with a Spanish-Black mix? Or a Black-Indian Mix? Or even another Spanish-Indian making a Spanish-Indian2? Eventually the labeling became too much and the race distinction blurred.
The Beauty Mark
Casta paintings in the latter eighteenth century became more detailed, showing plants, objects, textiles, and more. In her description Katzew tells us about the presence of the beauty mole in paintings completed after the 1750’s. Women commonly cut and glued dark velvet to their faces to appear more beautiful. The application of the velvet gave women the opportunity to appear as though they belonged in a higher class, blurring the lines between castes. The presence of the beauty mole has become a fashion phenomenon, extending to the 1950’s. A common example is Marylin Monroe who was known for her beauty mole, proving the timelessness of fashion.
less is more
In Mexico and the rest of Latin America, dressing well was not a way to express individuality or have fun, but a way to display wealth. In order to appear more high class and prestigious, citizens often piled on fine clothing and expensive accessories. Casta paintings reflect this was an accepted practice of lower class citizens in the earlier half of Spanish rule of the region, but by the late 1700s, the rich looked down upon the tradition, finding the ordeal tacky. Unfortunately, in the lower class citizen’s constant and unrelenting efforts to fit in with their upper class peers, they ended up coming across as “too try hard” and over the top. This period marked the transition from demand of everything luxury to refined taste. Instead of wearing all the expensive apparel a wealthy person owned, he or she knew that one standout ornate piece made more of an impact. When dressing, its always good to follow the golden rule; less is more.
Casta Paintings: A Colony’s Display of Wealth
One of the most interesting things that I learned about casta paintings was that depictions from the first half of the 18th century showed all classes in luxurious attire (not just the upper class). At this time, it was not uncommon for a member of a lower class, or even a slave, to own items that made them hardly distinguishable from a wealthy Spaniard or Creole. In this sense, fashion helped many people of mixed races identify with one of their backgrounds by allowing people to dress as they pleased (and assimilating to a certain culture). By the nineteenth century, casta paintings no longer depicted members of the lower class wearing elegant clothing, but rather showed them in tattered and inexpensive garb. This change in casta paintings was due to the fear of the upper classes that racial distinctions were becoming increasingly blurry.
My photograph, which features lots of gold jewelry on a “fancy” and sparkly red cape, reminds me of the type items that might have been included in casta paintings. Both authors of our readings suggest that the paintings served to demonstrate the wealth of the new Spanish, Latin-American colonies, and to spark European interest in the New World.
Casta Paintings: The Wealth and Luxury of New Spain
The Casta Paintings depicted the various mixed races found within New Spain. The artists knew their work would reach the European continent, so they chose to show that their new country was not far behind Europe. In these paintings they displayed the wealth and luxury found in all of society, not just the ‘pure breads’. In one set of Casta Paintings, a picture of a pineapple, or piña, was displayed. The pineapple was a new fruit to the Spaniards, thus it raised their curiosity. King Ferdinand found it delicious and of higher status than all other fruits. This shows the luxury of items in New Spain. The paintings also displayed jewelry on everyone. Pearls and jewels could be found on the dress of both Spaniards and Indians. In Europe, someone of a lower rank and status would not be allowed to sport jewels or pearls. This differentiation shows that New Spain wanted to show the overall wealth and luxury of the country, and not just the luxury of certain races or socio-economic classes.
Wearing Very Commonly The Finest
Juan de Viera emphasizes the ‘marvellous’ fact that it is impossible to distinguish the wife of a count from the wife of a tailor, as both are so finely dressed. This photo exemplifies this idea of wearing the very finest commonly. Dressing up for a common school day, Philip Rech ’19 is dressed in some of his most elegant attire, sporting a seersucker sport coat with pink corduroy. Assuming this society was like that of 18th century Lima or Mexico City, one can not tell if he is the son of great prominence or just from a lowly family of merchants. Juan de Viera notes, “A hatband and rose made of diamonds in a gentleman’s hat is common, and a hat-band of pearls is ordinary in a tradesman.” People of many different classes in these societies were dressing as elegantly as they could. I think a reason for this is because if you think about society today, there are so many more extraneous expenses that come along with the technology and complexity of our civilization. We have to pay for phone, internet, tv, heating, electricity, computers, cell-phone bills, mortgages, insurance, and so on and so on. With a much simpler life in the 17th 18th and 19th centuries there were such fewer expenses so people could devote a much larger portion of their income towards clothing and adornment.
Flowers compared to castas
These flowers reminded me of the castas in New Spain during the 16-18th century. There is a darker purple, a lighter purple, and a red. The red reminds me of the black’s role in society. This is because they were so estranged from society coming in as slaves. Then their blood was recognized as completely tainted. No one could mix with blacks and then be clarified ever again as having “pure blood”. The lighter and darker purples remind me of the Indians and the Spanish in New Spain. The Spanish were high society with Indians below them, but they were similar enough that if they mixed races, then their offspring could still be considered to be “pure blood” or Spanish.
“Taste the Rainbow”- Skittles’ slogan refers to the multitude of flavors-represented by each color of the rainbow-that each one of its packets offers. There is orange, grape, strawberry, green apple, and lemon. A single picture of the lot of skittles cast a bout captures the essence of the candy in all its glory, just as casta paintings captured the multitudes of races and ethnicities that composed the culture of colonial mexico. Tensions in these times were tense, and the battle for racial equality that existed then extends into today. As time will reveal to us however, all colors brought to the table bring their own but equal sugary sweetness to the scene. Except for the yellows, I really don’t like the yellows. I think they’re too tart, but don’t let that undermine what I just said about racial equality. The yellows just aren’t my thing- that’s all.
Nuns Gone Wild
In Mexico, Spain and its rulers imposed many reforms and restrictions. To oppose these restrictions, Mexican nuns wore escudos; these were medallions to represent their solidarity with the new culture and religious authority in Mexico. Often times, the escudos depicted an extremely raw nativity scene. One of the most controversial topics involving the escudos was the practice of nuns wearing these massively elegant medallions on their clothes. Many high ranking church officials believed the nun’s luxurious clothing and the oversized escudos was contradictory to their vows of living a modest life. The nuns were accused of trying to attract men to the church with this sinful way of dressing. As Spain and the church hierarchy began to crack down on reforming the convents across the new land, the escudos became a sign of resistance to conformity. The unreformed convents displayed the escudos on their chests.
Pictured above is a Spanish-influence drawing of a medallion. The angel statue praying behind it signifies the church’s attempts at conforming the nun’s clothing and lifestyle. Escudos would have been large, much like the drawing, but would show a saint or a Bible scene. The escudo showed solidarity between the unreformed convents in Mexico.
Patriotism in a New Home
I’m no nun, but I am a student of W&L. Like the nuns of New Spain who donned escudo de monjas, I wear a physical symbol, a “badge of patriotism” to show my differences from those around me in this photo. The nuns wore escudas to show the Spanish government that they would not follow the convent reforms of the 17th century. I stand against the walls of my new home, the traditional brick walls of the Graham Lees dorm, but am making a (minor, compared to the impact of the escudo de monjas) statement about who I am. That statement is declaring where I’m from; a modern, t-shirt version of an escudo de monja by a college student.
Beneath the Mask
In Rebecca Gales “History Workshop Journal”, she compares two quotes sixty years apart concerning the fashion of the colonial Mexico City. The first quote, from 1778, describes how fashion is allowed to mask socioeconomic status because everyone dresses finely. At the time, New Spain was trying to showcase its wealth, so it was applauded when lower classes dressed richly. However, the 1840’s description shows how the views of the culture had shifted. At this point, clothing not only portrayed status but also race, and those who did not abide by it were mocked.
The clouds remind me of the first quote; it masks the ground underneath creating an appearance of a smooth layer. But, as is common knowledge clouds never stay consistent, and will eventually part showing the ground below. This parting is comparable to the second quotes view of social stratification that occurs in Mexico City.
A Modern Veil
This pair of sunglasses depicts a modern way of covering ones face. Whether being used as a fashion accessory, for protection, or to help hide ones face, sunglasses are a modern way of veiling ones face. Unlike in the early modern Spanish world, sunglasses are widely accepted in today’s society.
Bass and Wunder’s article discusses the important stamp that the veiled lady (tapada) left on the early modern Spanish world. As cities became more crowded, the veiled lady of this time was considered unsettling, disruptive, and provocative. Veils were banned because it hid the social status of women and because people couldn’t decipher their intentions. Unlike in today’s society, in the early Spanish world people of high status didn’t like the anonymity the tapada gave women.
Throughout the seventeenth century the Mexican Bishops made several efforts to reform creole convents. Much of this reform had to do with the complaint of nuns dressing too luxuriously, expensively, and fashionably. This went against the vows taken by nuns that swore them to a life of poverty, obedience, chastity, and enclosure. Archbishop Payo de Ribera gave warning to nuns in 1673, “take care that in your escudos … you do not exceed in preciousness or curiosity the holy poverty that you profess.” Not only was their vow of poverty taken into question by their lavish dress but also their vow of chastity. In 1694 the Franciscan friar Rafmundo Lumbier offered his opinion, “who are [were] they trying to attract with this [adornment]?” He is insinuating that such adornment was under purpose of attracting the attention of secular men.
Ostentatious Culture of Spain
I chose to represent Seville’s culture by photographing jewelry. As Seville became a larger and larger metropolis, the idea of showing one’s wealth became more popularized. In Bass and Wunder, they write that families chose to showcase their affluence by wearing, “fine silk mantles, skirts of velvet and taffeta, and jewels—dangling earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rosaries” (p 113). I chose to photograph an assortment of jewelry. This represents the gaudy culture that the tapado would later come to conceal. It is hypothesized that as extravagant clothing became more popular, the idea of concealing one’s “goods” became more enticing.
The turmoil between New Spain and it’s mother country is fully displayed within their religious conflicts. The center-point of the conflict lies within the escudo de monja, as discussed by Elizabeth Quigley Perry in a segment of her thesis paper Badges of Patriotism and Resistance. The Bishops in Spain were trying to reform the convents in New Spain, enforcing the nuns to give up their extravagant lifestyles for a more common and modest one. However, the convents refused which gave rise to the use of excessive adornments, such as the escudo de monja.
The cross in the picture above stands for the religious differences, and the resistance of the nuns. Along with the pendent to show how they used jewelry as a focal point of their rebellion. The chains represent the bondage New Spain was trying to break; towards their autonomy.
The White Hand
In tapadas comedies, women would distract men by manipulating their mantles and gloves. In the tapadas play, La celosa de si miasma, the newcomer Don Melchior goes to Mass almost immediately upon arriving in the Spanish capital. However, despite attending Mass in the most fashionable church in Madrid, Don Melchior falls in love with the veiled lady, Magdalena, and becomes very fixated with her white hand that he only catches occasional glimpses of. Because tapadas covered nearly all of a woman, whenever either the hands or parts of the face were revealed, this resulted in an “erotic charge” (Bass and Wunder). In my picture, my revealed white hand is similar to Magdalena’s, and would have attracted many suitors, such as Don Melchior.
The Veil of Death
Men were commonly seduced by women wearing tapada de medio ojo, a veil which only exposed one eye of the woman. Because the veil concealed the identity and status of the woman, men could not tell what type of woman they were flirting with. However in this case, the unfortunate man ends up seduced by death itself. The painting that depicts this scenario by Pedro Camprobin was used to discourage men from pursuing earthly pleasures which lead to spiritual death, focusing on what was in store after this life. It was these temptations that Cortes tried to prevent against when he pushed for legislation against the concealment of women’s faces.
The image of the black violin represent the tapadas in the New World. The way it deviates from the norm of what people expect to see, brings about a sense of mystery and heightened curiosity, just like the tapada fashion of the New World. Slight changes in how its bent or twisted bring about big changes to its tone and how its perceived, similar to the appearance of the tapado fashion projected in various art forms.
Women in the New World took a strong stab at the fashion scene, which in turn grabbed a lot of attention. From seeing how the Moriscas wore the Castilian mantle, and the way it enhanced the woman, Spanish women took the idea and made it their own, eventually named a tapada. The tapado fashion quickly caught the eye of all types of men, even officials. The tapada evolved to being a tool of mystery, because there was no telling who was hidden under it and exactly what social class she belonged to, and as a tool of seduction, being that women (and men) could act as whoever they wanted, almost like putting on a costume, thus raising concerned eyebrows in the Spanish elite.
Vidá Común de Universidad
In New Spain, bishops attempted to force convents to reform to a communal lifestyle, called vida común. At first the convents ignored this request, but eventually they slowly started reforming. The first construction toward communal living was communal dining rooms and dorms. Both of which are present on college campuses.
Communal living defines college. All freshmen at Washington and Lee eat in the dining hall in a communal setting and live in dorms. Graham-Lees and Gaines contain about 250 students in each dorm. Living together, eating together, going to class together, basically doing everything together brings a sense of community. If college did not implement communal lifestyles, the experience would be completely different. People would have fewer friends and, most likely, their social skills would not be as strong. College is defined by Vidá Común.
Escudos and A Class Ring
The image I have posted above is my friend’s class ring. She was given this ring when during an official ceremony in-between her junior and senior years of high school, and it represents her placement and importance in the Holton-Arms community. (Holton-Arms is her high-school, fyi).
In a similar fashion, the nuns of unreformed, colonial, Mexican convents donned escudos (or medallion like pieces of jewelry) to signify their place within the convent and within the greater community. But these escudos held more meaning than just a signifier of a nun’s participation in a specific convent; the images on escudos (and sometimes even just wearing one) was used as a tool to promote Mexico (and creoles) and rebel against the strict policies of the Spanish catholic bishops.
the modern tapada
In 16th century New World Spain, women paraded around in mantles called el tapados as a way to rebel and appear seductive. Lawmakers saw the increasing appeal and allure of the tapada and attempted to outlaw the practice, to little avail. Lawmakers connected the use of tapadas to women usurping their place in society and deceiving men by pretending to be people they were not- sometimes concealing race, social class and gender. These women felt a sense of liberation wearing the tapada- leading them to partake in activities they might not otherwise.
Similarly, women today wear makeup as a way to transform or appear more seductive. A smokey eye or red lip are good examples of women sporting particular looks when they go out to display a certain appearance and draw men’s attention. Both trends are associated with confidence and allure. Women often feel more confident in their appearance with makeup on, concealing their imperfections and sometimes truly transforming their face. This association between allure and makeup leads many parents to forbid their daughters from wearing cosmetics. Certain religious schools also prevent students from wearing makeup. Similar to the authorities of New World Spain, people today see the association between transformation through fashion and cosmetics and liberation- and fear it.
Pins are still in fashion
This is one of three pins that I own. This one unlike the others is purely for fashion. The other two are high-school varsity and graduation pins. Each pin holds a certain significance in my life and in the communities from which they were given to me- the high-school pins more so than this pin. The escudos de monjas marked the membership of women in New Spain to religious groups. In a similar way, my highschool pins symbolized my place amongst some of the more influential students on campus in high-school.
Who is it? We don’t know
In this costume, Lucy would have been able to hide her identity and show off what an intelligible woman she really is without worrying about people judging her or punishing her for strong opinions. She could talk to her own family without them realizing who they were speaking with. This social animinity is what the monarchy feared would cause social disorder/rebellion. Typically these veils would reveal one eye.
Veil of the Unknown
In the times before 1586, women were permitted to wear a veil over their face to be completely covered up. As depicted in this image, it is extremely difficult to determine who is under the veil and more importantly to determine the class rank of the woman under the veil. Not only could a woman hide her class, but a man could also hide his gender. The veil could also be perceived as alluring or sexual. Something it was referred to as death under the veil because the women under it could corrupt man. This caused major problems in Spanish society, and therefore, veils were outlawed. After 1586, laws were set in place to ban the veil. While these laws would help reduce some mysteriousness of class rank, they also hurt women of modesty because now they were forced to show their face.
After their victory against the Mohawks, Champlain’s Native allies, the Algonkians and Hurons, believed in sacrificing at least one of the men they had captured. Sacrificing was a serious business that was held to thank the spirits that had aided the Natives in their battle, and it would take all night to perform. As demonstrated in the picture, the Natives would torment their prisoner, and make him sing while they burned his torso and revived him with cold water each time he passed out. This ordeal would last until sunrise, when it would finally end with disembowelment and ritual cannibalism. Champlain despised this practice, as he believed the prisoner had done nothing wrong and had no valuable information, which therefore, did not warrant torture.
“Nice Hat Bro”
In the mid 1600’s, Dutch citizens refused to go out in public with a bare head. They never took off their hats, not even for the monarch. Men and women alike always desired to wear a hat or a cover. Why? To show their status. Beaver pelts were the most sought after material to create the “high-class” and elegant hats. The primary way to demonstrate social status was for a person to don a beaver skin hat, symbolizing their wealth and importance within the society. However, citizens of all classes found cheaper materials to use. Poor people would be forced to succumb to sheep wool hats. These hats were coarse and ugly to the eye, often times deforming when exposed to rain. As time progressed, hatters began to create more elaborate designs for their products; anything and everything was done to gain an advantage among the competition.
Pictured above is my dad’s baseball cap. Much like the Dutch men, he wears this hat everywhere. In today’s society, it doesn’t symbolize wealth or social status; it simply demonstrates his loyalty to his favorite team. Baseball caps today are constantly evolving, displaying dashing new designs and even holiday-specific colors.
Madness for Fashion
At last spring’s fashion war of Lilly Pulitzer for Target, I managed to snag some “beaver fur.” Target partnered up with the famous Palm Beach sassy, southern clothing company to create a line of high quality Lilly clothes, at Target’s awesome prices. The day that the line was released, women and teenage girls sprinted in to every Target store across the nation, grabbed what they could, fought each other for different pieces, and ultimately emptied out every Target, both online and in-store, in the United States of their Lilly Pulitzer for Target line. The chaos was all over the news for weeks, seeing just what women would do for a fashionable good deal.
This particular scarf is from that line, but it was actually a gift (I’m still in shock my friend gave it to me after everything she had gone through to get it). The craziness of last spring for Target’s temporary Lilly Pulitzer line didn’t feel too different (although much less violent), than Champlain’s ventures, wars, and conquests all for the fashion of beaver fur. Champlain fought hard for fashion, just like women did at the big red discount retailer last spring.
In the 1600’s waterways were essential. They facilitated trade, movement, and provided important resources to the people. Samuel Champlain, the leader of a French mission on the St. Lawrence, understood the importance of gaining control of the river. Having access to the river would allow him to increase profits in the fur trade. Because hats were so popular during this time period, they were in high demand back in Europe. If Champlain earned enough money through trade, he would have the means to search Canada for a way to China. His trades were successful so he spent years exploring rivers because he thought it would lead him to the Pacific ocean. Although Champlain was never able to find a way to China, he understood the importance of waterways and how useful they were to him.
I decided to concentrate on the first page of the reading in which Vermeer’s hats are discussed. Here, the author writes about the different types of hats Vermeer would paint himself and others in depending on what they wore. In society at this time, the type of hat a person wore depended on the situation, social standing, and profession of the person wearing it. I decided to photograph my friend Katherine Anne as she worked on her homework. In the reading it said that, “a man without a hat, he was someone at work” (p 26). While women wearing hats was not discussed in the reading, I photographed Katherine Anne working in the library without a hat.
The Decline of Hats
Hats used to be way cooler. As it says in the reading, no Dutch man of status in the 17th century would ever be seen in public bare headed. The wealthy elite spent top dollar in order to sport hats made of the finest felts, particularly beaver furs, with elegant designs and decorations. Even the poorer classes made do wearing hats of wool felt. In today’s society hats have completely lost their importance. Hats, for the most part, are affordable and accessible by upper, middle, and lower classes. You have to look at the top of the upper class to find men who wear fancy hats nowadays and even they don’t view it with importance, often not wearing hats at all. More often it is the women of the most elite class who wear fancy hats. Hats today are mostly worn by people such as the three guys pictured in my photo. Young adults, wearing their hats indoors (etiquette no longer of importance i guess), looking like goofballs. I think a society where hats are given much more attention and significance would be so much more interesting.
The demand of hats
In “Vermeer’s Hat” by Brook, it is stated that the wealthy of the seventeenth century only wore hats made from beaver pelts. For many years though, beavers were extinct in Europe, so the trend went out of style. Once Champlain started trading with the natives in Canada, for cheap, they were put on the European market. They were not expensive for Champlain to make, but they were sold at a high price.
In this picture, Sam is wearing a patagonia baseball hat. These were not around in the seventeenth century, but now are a current fashion trend. This specific hat costs $40, which is an absurd price for a casual baseball cap. This price is not based on the price of materials and manufacturing, but on the fact that a popular item can sell at a high price. This represents how even in todays day, fashionable items can be marketed and sold based on demand. This also shows that hats of some sort will always be in style.
The Price of Luxury
The illustration above depicts the cruel reality of the the effect of luxury goods being traded between Europe and the Native peoples of America. With the acquirement of the latest most splendid velvet hat in Europe comes the sacrifice of the manipulated. One of the true sufferers of the velvet fad in Europe, besides the beaver population were the native peoples. Because of being malnourished and famine, the Native American tribes, especially the children of those tribes, slowing shrink and die.
Hats were huge in Europe. No one of authority carried themselves without a proper hat, and if they had enough money, that hat was made of velvet. However, that hat’s beautiful velvet covers the harsh reality of acquiring it. The French and other European’s traveled to the America’s to secure a hand in the fur trade, after they exhausted their beavers to extinction. The Native peoples quickly drew alliances with the Europeans, and thus sealing their fate. War, sacrifice, and disease soon ravaged the lands of the Americas all for the precious, ever-so desired velvet. The Europeans lived in luxury with the prices of velvet hats going up along with the Native American death toll.
A Scalp Necklace
Champlain described war between Native American tribes as a mystical experience, consulting spirits and interpreting dreams to predict the outcome of the confrontation. When the skirmish was over the winning tribe would typically cut the scalps off of the losers and take them back to their tribal lands. Brock says that the tribeswomen would swim out to the canoes of the returning warriors to have a scalp necklace hung around their neck as a sign of victory. While a grotesque practice, it symbolized superiority over the defeated tribe. In this way fashion is used in to differentiate between victors and losers.
My roommate Lucy would be noticed as one of the prestigious members of the community just for wearing this “beaver” hat. For years and years, beaver pelts had disappeared from the market because beaver hunting had depleted their populations. However when beaver pelts from Canada began to emerge in the European market, they made a quick comeback. Anyone of stature had one of these hats. The price of beaver pelts was ridiculously high, which prevented any lower class people from getting their hands on one. That is, until second hand markets became available and people could buy their beaver hats used. Soon nearly everyone would look like Lucy, especially after new competitors came in and brought down prices by 60%! In order to keep things new and fresh, hats became more and more outlandish, growing bigger and bigger by every design.
The Elusive Path
Many aspects of the beaver fur trade between Canada and Europe were brought to light by Brook in “Vermeer’s Hat”. The wars and rituals of the Native Americans, the fashion of the Europeans and the beaver hats that connected them. However, Brook mentioned how Chaplain only made it as far as he did because Chaplain was an excellent cartographer, which allowed the knowledge of Canada to be passed on. Also mentioned was how Chaplain’s main goal was always to find the elusive path to China, despite all the profit of beaver fur. It is because of this I choose to use a compass to represent the travels of Chaplain as his adventures invariably effected two very different cultures an ocean apart, and the drive to navigate his own path.
Will Trade Anything For a Beaver Pelt
Beaver pelts are a prime example of an inexpensive product to make, but a product that is extremely expensive because of the demand for it. A parallel of this today would be a sought after designer’ s clothes that are marked up an absurd amount because people will still buy the product. Pictured in my photo someone is trading a very nice knife just for some beaver pelts because of how much they are worth back in Europe. In the reading it discussed how shocked the Indians were over what the explorers would pay just for a simple beaver pelt. This proves how fashion really is based on peoples perception of an idem rather than the actual cost it takes to make it.
My picture, which features me wearing a fur trimmed hood, reminds me of what an upper class, Dutch (or European) person would have worn after 1580. With the rise of trade between North America and Europe, fur trappings became much more available, and the demand for such luxurious furs sky-rocketed. I found it interesting that Dutch men (and possibly women) would never remove their hat in public, not even out of respect for their monarch! Now a days, it is considered polite for a person to remove their hat when greeting people or, for example, stepping inside a nice restaurant.
This weeks reading discussed the trade of beaver pelt and the high demand for the material to make hats for wealthy Europeans at the end of the sixteenth century. In order to keep a hold on the market, hatters tweaked the simple design of the beaver, as the hat became known. Creators of the beaver created styles in different colors and materials, and changed the height and shape of the crown slightly by making it bigger and smaller, wider and narrower etc. The hatters cleverly realized they could keep the general style of the beaver the same and make minor adjustments in order to peak consumers interest in the new and better hat they already own and convince them to buy more of that same hat.
Similarly today, consumers justify their purchase of a similar shoe or garment based on the small differences between them. For example, an individual may have four pairs of heeled boots in various shapes, colors and materials to go with different outfits. Although the boots are essentially the same, the small differences in each pair justify that person’s purchase of all pairs and keep the individual current and up to date on trends and changing styles and gives them variety in their styles.
My Beautiful Quiver of Hats
Bet you never tagged me as a hat person. That’s because I never wear a hat- unless its a sweet visor that obnoxiously declares my love for the outdoors and adventure. Anyway, you might be wondering, “Mikey, if you don’t ever wear any hats, then why the hell do you have so many?” Great question! Because there friggin sweet hats!!! OK!? No, they weren’t made from the coveted pelt of a slaughtered beaver deep in the North American woods- the very same commodity that drove the economy in colonial North America under French demands. But they were made from the next best thing. CHEAP EXPORTED LABOR!!!!! YIPPEE!!! What a wonderful thing that drives our beautiful capitalist economy. I love freedom, and I love America, but most of all, I love making money in America. That means that I love shipping our work overseas so that hundreds of thousands of grossly underpaid and mistreated workers can do it for us in order to maximize efficiency!!! Man, what a day to be alive!!!
I’ll take my coffee with sugar, please
We all know the phrase, “You are what you eat.” Sidney W. Mintz had a more elegant way of saying this idea in her book, Sweetness and Power, “what people eat expresses who and what they are, to themselves and others.” While this reading studied the impact of the widespread desire for sugar during the 17th and 18th centuries, it also addressed food as a defining component of cultures throughout history. Take the culture of college students. Their biggest defining food? Coffee. Students are dependent on that caffeinated, creamy drink to keep them going – throughout the day and often the night. Coffee is the culture of college! Mintz’s essay also described a “built-in likeness for sweetness,” which is also evident in the mochas, frozen lattes, and decadent coffee concoctions. Coffee defines the culture of college, and that commodity relies on the commodity of the 17th and 18th century: sugar.
Friends. Family. Food.
Food. Without it, we become angry and moody monsters. With it, we create unbreakable bonds. One of the historical traditions among family is the partaking of food together. From birth, we learn food is necessary for life. Its existence in our life not only helps us survive individually, but it allows us to connect to others through friendship. In his writings, Mintz stated how the sharing of food reduces tension between people. In social settings, “finger foods” and other refreshments are served to indicate a relaxed and friendly environment. Even complete strangers can be united for a short time when sharing a meal together.
Personally, I feel more comfortable conversing with another person after they have offered me food. I tried an experiment Saturday at the football game; I sat beside a boy I did not know. We sat there in silence for about 15 minutes, and then I offered him a cookie. He politely declined, yet struck up random conversations with me throughout the game. Since we were both in the press box, he even helped me out with the audio after touchdowns. The idea of food dissolving tension was accurate in this scenario.
“Supplementary tastes gain their importance because they make basic starches ingestively more interesting”. If you eat pasta without sauce, then you are crazy. In the past, people began adding these supplementary tastes (sauce for pasta, fats and salts for bread, etc.) to enhance their meals and make them thoroughly more enjoyable. However, it’s interesting that while these supplementary tastes really enhance a meal, people hardly eat large quantities of them, and hardly eat them by themselves. Notice in the picture, my friend, Sydney, has merely added pasta sauce to her noodles, but the starch remains the main part of the meal. It would be a strange sight if Sydney had only a bowl of sauce for dinner. Thanks to the sauce being added to the pasta, however, Sydney enjoyed a dinner that had some character.
Origin of the Sweet Tooth
As you can see from my snack drawer, I have quite the sweet tooth. I get satisfaction from this sensation of sweet things. I thought maybe it was the mere taste of these sugary treats that caused my liking for them but apparently, according the reading, my preference for sweets began much longer ago. It can trace back all the way to my ancestors. They first became inclined to seek sweetness when looking for the ripest fruits and berries. This sweet taste let them know that the fruits were good to eat. So I am not alone, according to the reading there has been no human civilization that has rejected the introduction of sugar and other sweetened foods. This innate fondness to the taste gives evidence as to why people cannot refuse refined sugar despite the evidence that it is “maladaptive.
I took a picture of my friends Jenny and Katherine Anne, as we are studying on the main floor of the library. In the reading, it talks not only of the importance of certain foods, but also of the importance of eating together as a group. The author quoted Robertson Smith, who said that eating together, “links human beings with one another” (p. 4). I found the experience he describes with food, similar to the one many people practice by studying together. In our library, it is mostly a social experience and seems to be a majority of groups studying together. I decided to relate the special experience many at the time would relate with eating as a group, with the experience many now would relate with studying with a group.
Thank You People of the Tropics
Almost everyone has baked cookies before. The white, granulated ingredient is sugar. This ingredient does not develop in this form. Sugar is actually a product produced from growing sugar cane. Sugar cane is grown best in tropical regions, in fact, islands of The Caribbean are known for their agriculture of sugar cane. The sugar cane is grown there, but not refined there. Most people of The Caribbean do not mechanically refine it because they prefer the traditional form of sugar, but what we know as sugar is the refined version. The farmer sends off the sugarcane to a metropolis to be refined, and then it gets distributed to consumers. This shows that there are many processes that go in to making the ingredients that we then bake with. Without the invention of refining sugar from sugar cane we would not have delicious cookies, nor any other sweets, so thank you people of the tropics.
Food: Unifier and Divider
Food serves as a part of the daily culture of all peoples around the world. The feeling of hunger is universal, however what individuals and their cultures produce to satisfy that universal need, certainty is not. What type of food an individual, a group of people, or an entire culture works to define who they are to themselves, and others looking in. The context of what exactly different individuals use to quench their hunger also defines what levels of importance they place on certain types of food, as in the amount of protein verses vegetables on the plate. The intensity of tastes, and the variety of different sources of food also works define distinctive traits between peoples.
For instance, the picture above depicts the divide in typical food stuffs between American and West African, particularity Nigerian, cuisine. For breakfast, in an American diet savory and sweet tastes go hand in hand. In a Nigerian diet, savory and salty items with a small aspect of sweetness would be consumed. Additionally,typically for Americans, to satisfy a meal, a variety of dishes are placed together whereas in the Nigerian diet, there is a primary ingredient, complimented by samples of other nutrients.
Our reading this week had a short story in the introduction about a man named Charles from Puerto Rico who was studying in the United States. When his friends heard this, they asked excitedly for Charles to bring back an artifact they could all admire from his home, preferably a machete. Fueled by his friends encouragement , Charles eagerly set out to find the machete while abroad but found to his dismay, they were all made in Connecticut. Due to globalization and our innate desire for everything cheap, it is hard to find items truly made and sold in a particular nation, especially in the West. When I look inside the label of my clothing, most of the time it will say made in China, Taiwan or Indonesia, not the US.
This picture represents my attempt to find a truly authentic souvenir for my mom while traveling to New Zealand. I found a small shop in the middle of nowhere and saw the perfect present: this paddle. When I asked the shopkeeper to explain its significance, thinking he would say it was made up of drift wood with ancient carvings of the indigenous people, I was shocked and horrified to hear that it was made in Indonesia, with Indonesian wood and the carvings were made recently. Stemming from the era of globalization and colonization, most items on the market today have been touched by several nations.
The Sugar Hierarchy
Throughout this class, we have read papers discussing the hierarchy of clothing, but this paper adds a whole new hierarchy to the mix. A hierarchy of food, and even more specifically sugar. In the reading, the author discussed how in many different parts of the world the poor had brown sugar and the rich had white sugar. There were also a lot of other colors in between white and brown. As the sugar gets purer, the more expensive it became and therefore, created the sugar hierarchy. In this time period, you could tell a persons income by what food they consumed because of the price of food. This in some ways carries over to today, but not nearly to the extent as it was back in the time of the Sugar Hierarchy.
Widely Accepting Sugar
“Food preferences that emerge early in life do so within the bounds laid down by those who do the nurturing, and therefore within the rules of their society and culture” (Mintz, 4). Growing up, I was taught that sweet things were rewards for my good actions. I could only have dessert if I finished the rest of my meal first. I had to earn the sweets I ate, which made me glorify things like ice cream, candy, and cookies. Although I think society taught me to love sugar, my craving is somewhat inherent. Modern day America is not the only culture that has widely accepted sugar. Since our ancestors first walked on earth, they have been attracted to sweet things. The taste of berries and fruits attracted them, and this liking for sweets has been passed down for generations.
Sugar, a Necessity
Mintz mentions that before 1650 sugar was considered a luxury item in England. Before sugar the English experienced sweetness through eating honey or fruit, neither of which was plentiful or cheap. But sugar remained a luxury good up until around 1650 when the price made sugar available for wider consumption. Sugar became a main ingredient in many English households, using it to sweeten tea and biscuits. Christopher Columbus’s journey to the new world prompted the beginning of the sugar influx to Europe. As a result many slaves and indentured laborers came to America, their hard labor satisfying the sugar-crazed continent of Europe.
Sugar Sweet Awesomness
Oh how I love cookies!! Truly each one is a divine gift unto the earth. Each cookie is baked from a heavenly medley of ingredients. Standing alone, each ingredient already boasts its own unique deliciousness. The greatest ingredient of all? Sugar. Thats because sugar is not only so tooth-rottingly sweet, but the exploitation of slaves for its production means that it makes me a lot of money. Oh yes!! If there is one thing I love more than sugar or cookies, its money. Can you believe people criticize my methods on my Haitian sugar plantation!? “Oh you’re violating human rights, those poor slaves,” they say. Well, if you hate it so much then stop buying sugar!! I know thats not cinnamon you put in your pumpkin spice latte every morning. I’m certain I’m doing the right thing because I’m making sugar and I’m making money. Everyone loves sugar and EVERYONE loves money. So get off my back!
Food and Society
For our reading today, the author talked a lot about how food (and what we eat in general) reflects society. “Transformations of diet entail quite profound alterations in people’s image of themselves, their notions of the contrasting virtues of traditions and change, the fabric of their daily life.” My image is of lettuce (note- I wanted to find kale but I could not in D-HAll, so pretend it’s kale): recently, it has become trendy to eat healthy and organically. More stores like Whole Foods, Earth Fare, etc. have emerged in shopping centers, and quinoa and kale have become “power foods” that people desire. I think this says a lot about our society today, and how there is this a work-out, green-juice, organic kind of feel emerging . When you look around campus, a majority of girls are wearing work-out clothes like Lulu Lemon or Athleta. It’s a fad to eat healthy and dress sporty these days.
In the Caribbean, everyone consumed sugar cane in so many different ways. It was so popularized that people would simply chew it. The article reads that everyone was an expert on which types of sugar cane to chew and how to chew it which is actually not as easy as one may think. The sugar cane must be peeled and the pith should be cut into chewable portions. Inside of the cane there is a sticky, sweet, liquid that people are going for when they chew. This trend reminds me of chewing gum in America. Everyone does it for a sweet taste in his or her day.
A Fix, for Chapped Lips or a Sweet Tooth
Chocolate, derived from cacao, was described in Chocolate: Or, An Indian Drink as a “cold” substance in need of “hot” pairing. Multiple pairings were described, some creating warm, delicious liquids and others that caused relief to the stomach, or even urination. Lists were made of the various spices and natural ingredients that went best with chocolate, and even in today’s modern world we have multiple uses for the originally Indie commodity. On the top of the photo is cocoa butter Vaseline, with ingredients derived from cacao to create a soothing relief for chapped lips. But on the bottom of the photo is a big bag full of classic Hershey’s bars, the truest example of chocolate as a sweet, confectionary treat. The base of both these items is cacao, but combined with unique ingredients, become two different cures. Chocolate was the popular, natural commodity in places like Portuguese and France for the 1500s – 1800s, but even today the bean is very important in multiple ways for the American society.
Means of Hospitality
This is a picture of a refrigerator full of drinks. In today’s times, it is common, when a guest walks into your house to greet them by asking, “Would you like anything to drink?” In Seventeenth-century Spain, however, chocolate was the means of hospitality for those that could afford it. Chocolate was frequently offered during visits, meetings, and social gatherings with friends. It was a way to solidify social bonds and welcome guests into the home. During this time, “sharing chocolate [was] an activity that surpass[ed] promenading, flirting, gossiping, and even dancing and feasting as a powerful rite of sociability” (Norton, 178). Some particularly affluent europeans even had designated chocolate rooms to receive their guests in, which showed how dominate the trend became.
Candy or Cure?
In 18th century Portugal, chocolate was believed to have “magical healing powers”. The Portuguese used chocolate as a medicine to cure both injuries and illness. The Royal Portuguese Military Hospital treated wounded soldiers by feeding them chocolate tablets/drinks on a regular, timely basis. Chief surgeons, many of whom attested to the recuperating power of chocolate, would prescribed certain doses of chocolate to their patients. In the hospitals, wounded soldiers had a very strict, precise diet that included the exact quantity of chocolate they were to consume and at what time of day they were to consume it.
The picture above symbolizes the relationship between chocolate and medicine that was the basis of for the 16th century Portuguese medicinal practices. Today, we see this idea as ridiculous and absurd; chocolate is simply a pleasurable treat many of us partake in frequently. Whenever we have body aches or a sinus infection, we take supplements such as Motrin and Mucinex to alleviate our symptoms. Similarly, chocolate was viewed as a way to keep oneself healthy and ward off illnesses. They were perceived as “vitamins”, much like the vitamin C tablets or any other supplements found in local pharmacies today.
An Occasion of Friendship
I took a picture of my friend Sarah as she walked into my room and I am holding out Thin Mints to her. In the article by Marcy Norton, she writes about 17th century Spain and the fact that chocolate became a large part of hospitality. She says it was, “offered during visits and occasions of friendship,” (178). Chocolate was used to signal friendship and politeness.
Thin Mints are chocolate cookies that many people typically really enjoy, so I thought of this as a modern day example of friendship and hospitality as my friend enters my room. Since Thin Mints are not offered year round, they are considered extremely special, as chocolate was at this time.
A Love-ly Delivery
In 17th century Spain, chocolate began to be used as a way to court someone. It began to be considered flirtatious or seductive to send chocolate, thus people often sent chocolate to the object of their desires. Former Dominican, Thomas Gage, reported that when a gentlewoman began sending him chocolate, he was left with no doubts about her intentions to pursue him. The image above depicts how my delicious and prized chocolate bar will be sent to none other than the man who I love and who I wish to pursue. Upon receiving this gift, the man will become fully aware of my feelings and my intentions. Furthermore, it is clear that this man is truly special, for why else would I be willing to send him such a delicacy?
The Chocolate Cure
It was believed that chocolate was a cure for everything. It gave people energy, aroused people, made people cheery, and helped the ill. In the Seventeenth Century, Hospitals gave their wounded soldiers doses of cacao, what chocolate is derived from, to help them heal. Today, chocolate is seen more as a dessert than a fix-all, but for me it can cure anything.
On Thursday I became sick with an extremely sore throat and fever. All I wanted was to eat something or drink something that would give me energy, cool me off, and not hurt my throat to swallow. While in Dhall, I came upon the chocolate milk at the milk station. After a glass of chocolate milk, my throat felt soothed. The ice cold treat cooled me off and relaxed my throat instantly. Soon after finishing my cup, my energy level increased. The natural caffeine from the chocolate woke me up. Clearly the South American natives in the seventeenth century knew what they were talking about when they stated that chocolate was a cure all. I was ready to continue my day, at least until my throat hurt again and I needed another glass.
Chocolate was the drug of a sugar-crazed society. Besides drinking and eating chocolate for social reasons, chocolate was also used as a medical cure. Available in Jesuit pharmacies, chocolate was said to cure coughs, stomach flu, and induce labor. While chocolate has been discredited as a medicine, it has newly come out that consumption of dark chocolate each day can have health benefits. However, white chocolate and milk chocolate do not possess these health perks. According to WEBMD, “Dark chocolate — not white chocolate — lowers high blood pressure, say Dirk Taubert, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Cologne, Germany. Their report appears in the Aug. 27 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association” (http://www.webmd.com/diet/20030827/dark-chocolate-is-healthy-chocolate).
The Love of Chocolate
Chocolate, although a common commodity today, was once a great luxury. In Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures Marcy Norton discusses the importance of chocolate in the 17th century Spanish culture, although chocolate then was in the form of a drink, not the bars we are accustomed to today. Chocolate was seen as such an important aspect of status that it became expected to provide guests with chocolate if one was rich and it was mourned when one ran out. As Norton points out in her work, that chocolate was used to cultivate a social climate, however, it caused a great divide among the upper and lower classes. Chocolate was very expensive and was thus used as a symbol of wealth. Another aspect of chocolate is in its involvement in romance. In 17th century Spain chocolate was seen as almost erotic, and was often used for courtship and in marriage. This practice can still be seen today, especially during Valentine’s Day. Chocolate is still an integral part of our society, but it more accessible and common than it was back then.
Chocolate: Then and Now
Though chocolate is still considered an indulgence and a nice gift on certain occasions, I believe it is perceived differently now by some than it used to be. In one sense, there is a stigma towards chocolate (and all foods considered to be desserts or junk foods); with the our nation’s obesity problems and the emergence of trendy organic eating, some people look down upon chocolate and similar foods. Even though that is sometimes the case, chocolate still functions similarly to how it used to. It is still given out on special occasions for indulgence, like Halloween, and is given as gifts to show a romantic interest in another person (i.e. sending someone chocolates on Valentine’s Day). In general, chocolate is not necessarily still a luxury, but of course the chocolate market is huge and a type like Swiss chocolate can be considered special.
Chocolate: Enciting Emotion
This photo is of a gift box filled with chocolate and other sweet treats sent to me from home. The idea behind the gesture is to hopefully make me feel better and comfort me if perhaps I am homesick or feeling down. The emotions incited from the chocolate are known to be good pleasurable feelings. Apparently this tradition of gifting chocolate is not new. Chocolate has been routinely used as a gift and in many formal occasions since the mid 17th century. Since this time chocolate has also maintained a connection and association to love and intimacy. Chocolate rituals occurred at Pre-columbian Mesoamerican betrothal ceremonies and marriages. Still to this day chocolate is given as a gift to loved ones on holiday’s and still maintains its flirtatious nature.
Studies have shown that when couples consumed chocolate, their brains released more endorphins than when they kissed each other. Perhaps this is explains why Sonny the Bird was so “CooCoo for Cocoa Puffs”, chocolate is literally a drug. It might also explain why chocolate has dominated our markets from its discovery. Chocolate is addictive, and our demand for its sweet satisfaction has driven the exploitation of regional cacao resources for centuries, starting with Spain.
A Timesless Treat
Chocolate is not just a simple fad. It has been an extremely sought out product since before the 17th century. As featured above, there are many different types of chocolate bars being sold at a local store in Lexington, VA, called Healthy Foods Co-op. I imagine, based off the reading, that this wide variety of chocolate products would have existed back in the 1600s and before, as well. People in that time would not only use chocolate as a delicious treat but also as nothing to cheer them up or to send as gifts. Today those uses still hold true. Chocolate is commonly given to a lover or companion on Valentines’s day, and many people tend to crave chocolate when they are feeling sad or lonely. Chocolate is not only a product but an addiction that has lasted from the time of the Aztecs to present day.
Chocolate is Love, Chocolate is Life
Chocolate became the most sought after, most upheld luxury within the Spanish, French, and Portuguese elite. The French, leaders in the what’s what of luxury and finery, brought chocolate to the forefront, and thus elite looking to have the latest in luxury mobbed chocolate. Within Spanish societies, chocolate was the symbol of high-class. An event, a social gathering, a day without chocolate, was a day of misery. Chocolate was also characterized as to having enumerable gifts and healing properties. For instance it was used to heal ailing soldiers in Portuguese hospitals and remained more of a treatment rather than of an indulgence. Chocolate soon rose above tobacco, the original dominate luxury, as the symbol of high class, while tobacco became more of a guilty pleasure of the elite. Chocolate’s importance therefore exploded in 17th-19th centuries. People speaking in chocolate’s praise, went far and claimed that it was the universal medicine, even dissuading doctors from seeking medicine elsewhere. Chocolate was said to cure all of ones problems from sickness, to infertility, to ugliness. Anyone touched with the supreme substance of chocolate, was healed.
the food of celebration
For centuries, individuals used chocolate as a way to celebrate special occasions. Our readings discussed how entertainers would offer chocolate to the new guests in their homes and how Charles II of Spain scheduled time at his seventh birthday party to sit and enjoy the delicacy with partygoers. Our readings even include a line from a poem written in the seventeenth century stating, “If the party lacks chocolate, then it is worthless”. Similarly, today most celebrations are marked with the presentation of a special and delicious treat, many of which involve chocolate. When these occasions lack the delicacy, crowds become unhappy and disappointed. A bride and groom spend thousands of dollars on an ornate and delectable cake for the perfect cake cutting ceremony on their special day. At birthday parties, little kids stop playing party games and sit back at the table for birthday cake. No matter what the age or occasion, cake, and particularly chocolate evoke positive emotions and celebration. Chocolate and sweets not only taste delicious, but make individuals feel better. They remind us of good times like birthdays or friends or accomplishing a task that warranted a celebration. From its introduction, chocolate became an important luxury, evoking joy from those that tried the food.
The reason why I posted this picture about chocolate is pretty obvious. This week’s readings I found fascinating. I never knew that chocolate was said to have so many healing effects. Sounds like a chocolate craze hit the world pretty hard and brought it further together with trade from South America. I suppose we have all used cocoa butter as lotion, but I never really thought that it was from chocolate. I was also shocked about the high price that chocolate could have when it was just being eaten for luxury and taste. We could sell Hershey’s kisses back then and make more money than we could ever imagine!
Another International Speciality
Arching over the waters of Florence, Italy, the Ponte Vecchio bridge is where the best gold jewelry has been sold for a thousand years. On a family trip to Italy, my grandparents, cousin, and I spent an afternoon venturing this famous bridge of gold, trying to find the perfect jewelry souvenir. I left that afternoon with this pair of gold knot earrings, a favorite accessory of mine. Like the high demand for Chinese porcelain in Europe, tourists and travelers from all around the world come to the Ponte Vecchio to find the finest gold jewelry. They treasure the commodity from a far off country, because they know it is expertly made and crafted. Like the materialistic Europeans of the 17th century and their Chinese porcelain, I adore my foreign good, both because I know it is beautiful and because it was made by the best of the trade.
I like chocolate
Just because I like it.
Ignorance is Money
In 17th century China, Wen Zhenheng wrote a book instructing the lower class of society “do’s and don’ts” when it came to fine Chinese porcelain. In both Europe and Asia, these fine Chinese porcelain pieces were strongly desired. Everyone wanted a piece of this luxury, even if it meant paying an exuberant amount. As a result, many commoners and lower-class citizens acquired a dish, or several, of fancy china. However, since they were not familiar with the knowledge of “when” and “how” to use the fine porcelain, Wen wrote his book to give them insight into the upper classes practices. Wen’s book sold extremely well because of the lower class’s desire to properly use their new piece of status.
The dish pictured above is an example of what, today, we would use for holiday’s and special occasions. For every day, simply meals, we often use plain designed plates or even paper plates. However, when the occasion is a more celebratory and prestigious, people bring out their “fine china”; these dishes are reserved only for special meals.
A College Student’s China
In the reading from Vermeer’s Hat, it talked about the china dish and its importance in the emergence of the art of still-life. A table would typically be covered in with a carpet, which were too expensive at the time for the floor, and inside the China dish there would be fresh fruit. I decided to take a picture of a fruit drink in a plastic bottle. As college students, we rarely use nice dishes, instead opting for plastic because of its ability to be transported easily.
Impossible Standars to Follow
As a professional in taste, Wen Zhenheng wrote a famous book on cultural consumption titled, A Treatise on Superfluous Things. Having grown up in one of the richest families in Suzhou, China, Wen felt he had the necessary qualities to write a set of guidelines of what you should and should not do to be polite in society. In his book he stated that porcelain is something people should collect, but only pieces before the fifteenth century have value. He went further by saying this porcelain should also be “as blue as the sky, as lustrous as a mirror, as thin as paper, and as resonant as a chime.” Although this picture is of a cup with blue painted on it, it would be far from Wen’s standards. Even with blue, the cups, vases, and plates still had to be taken care of in the right way, and ask used at the right place and time. His set of guidelines were all very complex and almost impossible for Europeans to follow.
The Santa Catarina was a Portuguese ship that was captured by the Dutch while the Dutch were at war with Portugal and Spain. This was the most famous capture of the century, for the goods that were aboard the ship were remarkable. Onboard were over one hundred thousand pieces of porcelain that weighed over fifty tons, as well as twelve hundred bales of Chinese silk. When the goods returned to the Netherlands, people flocked to Amsterdam and willingly paid any price for the precious goods. This seizure along with the seizures of the San Iago and White Lion were large parts of the war between the Dutch and Spain. This incorporation of porcelain into the Dutch society would further intensify relations between the two countries as they fought to control the Chinese trading industry and gain access to more Chinese goods.
Authentic VS Imitation
Whenever there is a product of nice quality, there is always a market for a cheaper version. Almost all luxury items especially in fashion have faux reproductions. This was true also for the market for Chinese porcelain. European potters, particularly the ones near Delft, learned how to make cheaper, less quality, versions of the blue white glazed porcelain that the Chinese had made so popular. Even though it was by no means the real thing this type of product will always have a demand. As long as the reproducers are able to make a product that is “close enough” to the real thing people will undoubtedly buy it. I have an example here in my picture. On the right is a real XboxOne controller made by Microsoft, and on the left is a much cheaper less quality controller made by PowerA. Obviously the controller made by Microsoft is better than the other but when it costs 70$ and the faux version costs 30$ people with less dispensable income are buying the PowerA controller every time.
Porcelain- An Indicator of Globalization
I found the readings to be so interesting because I never thought of porcelain as an item that could unit nations in trade. When considering what items would cause globalization through trade, I always thought of natural resources and things like spices. Porcelain is a clear example of the desire for luxury goods that emerged with this rise of consumerism and the middle (and merchant) classes.
The blue and white Chinese porcelain was my favorite thing to read about, for I’ve seen some pieces in a museum and the contrast between the cobalt and the pure white is striking (my picture attempts to show the contrast). The article was also relevant to today’s world because China is still one of the largest (if not THE largest) international exporter- it’s cool to see where all of their production and global trade got its roots.
Borrowed and Blue
One idea I found particularly interesting from this weeks reading was the fact that the Chinese did not create the blue and white dish ware synonymous with porcelain China. According to the reading, the Persians were the first to have blue and white dishes since they had access to a rich cobalt blue dye for their glaze. At the time of the Mongol Empire, China and Persia interacted through trade and China started making blue and white dishes in order to appeal to their new Persian customers. The dishes made at this time gained popularity and became the quintessential China porcelain we are still familiar with today. The Chinese took the idea of blue and white dishes from the Persians but made the concept all their own, adopting the practice and becoming famous with the technique. There are various instances today and throughout history of this same phenomenon where a country known for a product took that product from another. In a similar but not as dramatic example, think about the veiled woman of Spain and New Spain. The idea of them wearing black mantles or tapadas, which represent the spirit and essence of Arab women was transformed by the Spanish, connoting two completely different messages and making the black covering a completely different role in Spanish society.
My roommate brought this collage with her to college (top photo) and I thought it was a really fun way to see all the people you love when you were going to sleep. Lets call her collage a Chinese plate. When I saw this, I wanted to replicate it. I am the Japanese. I did the same thing she did in a different way. Both are collages but there are parts of mine that are different than Lucy’s. The settings are different, the people look different, there are more pictures on mine, and her’s has a frame. Now you might be wondering what this has to do with China plates. When the Japanese starting making traditional China, they made it look similar, but they had to integrate their surroundings because it was they were accustomed to instead of Chinese settings. In Kuwayama’s article, he says that the mountains were indicative of the Japan, the gardens were Japanese gardens with their reed fences and roofed lantern. Clearly it would be odd if my collage had pictures of Birmingham rather than Charleston, and I consider the plates to compare nicely.
Anything that Will Sell
I took a picture of the attachable phone credit card holder with the Washington and Lee logo because it is an example of a new hot commodity that many companies are beginning to put their brand on. This new commodity has been selling extremely well and so companies or in this case a college has put their log0 on it because they know it will sell. They do this not out of their own person preference, but because of the preference of the buyer. This was also the case for porcelain. The Chinese would change their porcelain to the preference of the Europeans just so they could sell more. They not longer cared even about the quality, and only focused on the amount of money they received.
The evolution of china
In the seventeenth century, Chinese porcelain was a hot commodity. Everyone wanted a form of it, whether it be the wealthy with the real porcelain shipped from China or the lower classes with the Delftware. For the most part china was used as plate ware for elegant occasions or as decoration, but as time went on it was used more and more often. Today, most households have their “fine china” that never gets used, but that does not mean the designs of Chinese porcelain are not present. As my photo shows, even paper plates have a Chinese porcelain design on them. The look never disappeared, and in fact it has reappeared on many other surfaces.
Brilliance From Abroad
From its first appearance on European soil, Chinese porcelain, the delicate blue-and-white design took Europeans by storm. However, the blue-and-white that Chinese porcelain was know for, was a borrowed style from the Persians. The Persians greatly desired the Chinese porcelain, so much that their own crafts makers tried to imitate them. However their attempt “failed” in that they could not achieve the delicate white color of the Chinese ceramics. So they glazed their grey creations white and painted it with local cobalt instead of the array of colors of the Chinese. However, the “failed attempt” created something beautiful, that soon became sought after. After seeing the boom in popularity of the blue and white, the Chinese adopted the style and incorporated into their own work to appease the Persian aesthetic. Soon enough when the Europeans desired a portion of the Chines porcelain, the chines again adapted their crafts to fit the tastes of the Europeans.
The image of the wooden drawing mannequin, represents the ability of the Chines porcelain makers to bend and twist their style to the desires and tastes of their buyers.
Designed, Constructed, Consumed
As Brook’s article points out the fact that orders for porcelain were placed by European nations or the Imperial rules, then produced in Jiangxi, and brought back to Europe for consumption by the elite. Porcelain was transported back to Europe by either the Dutch, the English, the Portuguese, or the Spanish. Outsourcing labor usually saves money or in the case of porcelain outsourcing left production of the luxury good to the masters. By the same process this Patagonia vest was designed at the company headquarters in California, then constructed in Vietnam and shipped back to the United States so that stores can carry the product.
The Original Photoshop
My current free read is Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling, a comedian and screenwriter. The inside binding of the book is a repeating, silly little pattern of various phones, hamburgers, lipstick, stars, squiggly lines, and birds. While Kaling and her design team probably weren’t trying to mimic an Eastern art trend, this fun print reminded me of the textile printing by Asian and European artists in the 17th and 18th centuries. While Asian printed textiles were the real deal, the Europeans developed various technologies to compete with them. Big machines with handles, spinning wheels, and multiple moving parts (seen in the Lemire reading on p.905) accurately and quickly created and pressed patterns on different textiles. Kaling’s inside book cover pattern was probably mimicked and perfected through a web program like Photoshop. But Photoshop and the European print-making machine of the 18th century don’t differ too much from one another, as they both served to design and successfully execute a repetitive pattern, one for textiles in the 1700s, and one for book covers in the modern world.
In 17th century Europe, the desire for fine, colorful Asian silk, Indian cotton, and other luxurious commodities influenced market demands. Cotton, silk, and other textiles were imported from India and China, flooding the European market with these new goods. The imported textiles consisted of extravagant designs and colors, making them appealing to the eye and driving consumers mad with desire. However, many European manufactures attempted to “make copies” of the Asian-styled textiles in order to gain back their business from the now popular imported goods. The intricate and precise designs were extremely difficult for European producers to imitate, mainly because they lacked the direct knowledge and technology of the Asian manufactures. Despite the inferior quality of the European goods to Indian and Chinese goods, these copies showed the public that at least European producers were putting forth the effort to create affordable, “home” produced clothing.
Pictured above is a vibrant colored t-shirt on an office copy machine. Obviously, office copiers cannot create imitations of clothing, yet they can produce mass quantities of paperwork. The European manufactures strived to be like the modern copy machine; produce mass quantities of goods quickly and efficiently at a low cost.
Cloth Production in the Colonies
This is a picture of a plain cotton blanket that I have in my dorm room, like one that would have been produced in the late sixteenth century by indigenous women in the colonies. They participated in a local industry that make coarse plain white cotton, which was normally used for local trade and household use. Spaniards would used cotton to pay natives for their service. These local productions were largely considered inferior to European goods and by the seventeenth century cotton textile imports from Asia further minimized the indigenous cotton industry in the colonies. Although the local cotton was of fine quality, foreign goods were considered more of a luxury, regardless of their fabric. People craved the exotic and wanted to match the luxuries their European counterparts were getting. Asia also mastered the cotton printing industry first, which allowed them to produce cotton with a large variety of colors and patters, all of which made the fabrics more desirable.
I chose to take a picture of my patterned shoes because it relates to trade throughout parts of Europe. Old Cairo traded items that had a high range in quality, which meant it could be accessed by many different classes of people. The more expensive and valuable textiles would be painted with different designs. Today, patterns do not necessarily translate to the cost of an item, but certain textiles are still more valuable compared to others. Today, we also pay more for brands than certain patterns and colors.
The Lady in White
Vincente recalls the story of a young woman arriving in the colonies dressed in a lavish white dress. Locals could tell that the dress was made from foreign fabrics. The local women wishing to be like the foreign lady rushed to buy look-alike dresses. As a result town leaders were in confusion over that fact that one dress could spark a fashion crazed mission for white cloth. In my photo I have attempted to replicate the “lady in white”, whose grace and style cause a whole town to become fashion obsessed.
East Asain Products in Global Markets
When East Asain products made their way to European markets for the first time they were hugely desired for superior quality and sought after because of their popular “exotic” mystique. The aristocracy, of course, wanted to keep these expensive imports within their own class to preserve their power and maintain the structure of society. To do this the ruling class of states all around the globe instituted sumptuary laws. These sumptuary laws would dictate exactly what each class was allowed to wear. With the improvement of shipping and trading routes between East Asia and European cities, more luxury goods flowed in thus creating a lucrative business for all those involved. This created a new middle class and some non-traditional families were amassing fortunes. The growing flow of imported Asian goods stimulated European society’s preference and created a fashion system where people dressed on preference and not on birth. The aristocracy tried even harder to inflict sumptuary laws restricting dress but in the end were never able to hold back the cultural change. Today, as you can see in the picture, imported textiles from East Asia are still popular. However, today this is because of how cheap and mass producible their products are, not because they were expensive luxury goods like they were in the 17th century.
Globalization of Fashion
Ever since trade has been in place fashion has been altered everywhere. The Europeans in the Seventeenth Century loved Indian cotton, silks from China, and Calicoes. Today, this globalization of fashionable commodities is still present. Joie is an American brand based on the styles of Southern California. Most people do not know it is an American brand, as it is pronounced Ju-wa. These two tops, both by Joie, have tags stating that they were made in foreign locations. The black silk top was made in China and the orange cotton top was made in India. Both made in the same countries silk and cotton items were made in, in the Seventeenth Century. To take globalization even further. This American brand, made in countries of Asia, are also sold in Europe. There are Joie stores in Paris and many other European cities. This brand is the epitome of a globalized fashion company.
The Strength of Cotton
As seen in the above image, cotton was a strong influence that greatly affected the Spanish Empire and its policies. Late into the 18th century, Spain attempted to replace foreign products with Spanish goods in order to keep the Spanish wealth in the nation. The manufacture of Spanish calicoes was further a viable method to reassert social order. The production led to an increased work ethic among Spanish families which in turn increased the wealth of the monarchy. It tightened the bond between Spain and the Americas by both tackling contraband and reinforcing the America’s reliance on her motherland. However, although the Spaniards were selfish in their attempt to introduce their own Spanish cotton, their actions did benefit the Americas in certain ways: the export of Spanish cotton increased the Spaniard’s wealth, which enabled for them to increase their resources to defend the colonies from enemies; it helped stem the flow of contraband goods; and lastly, this new fashion style would instill Spanish values among the colonies and therefore further connect the two nations and fortify their relationship with each other.
The Unsatiable Thirst for Fashion
Fashion, the ever changing stream of want and inspiration. In the 1500’s fashion was becoming a major aspect of society, so much so that the poor would gladly go into debt to get fashionable clothes according to Vicente in “Fashion, Race, and Cotton Textiles in Colonial Spanish America”. At the time, exotic clothing was the biggest trend, mostly Chinese silk and Indian cotton. However, as much as these goods were coveted they were also contested, due to the belief they undermined the traditions and took business away from the textile makers in the European countries. Sumptuary laws were created to contradict the growing trend. What made the Chinese and especially Indian textiles so wanted were the complex prints. The Indian products often had a floral theme and were started to be used as household decorations. A patterned Indian dress is pictured above, it is a modern one, but there is still and intricate pattern involved that adds to the overall design of the dress. In 12th century to 17th everyone wanted silk and cotton from China and India, not just the rich. Even today there is still a want for different, and new, especially if it is not easily accessible.
When I was first asked, “Why was cotton, silk, and many other textiles so heavily imported from the far east?” my first reaction was to think that this was because importing from Asia was so cheap. Really, during the time of the silk road and the first globalization of markets, the opposite was true- because it was so valuable. To start, cotton was considered an extremely luxurious textile. Today cotton lies on the other end of the spectrum in terms of fabric quality. However, cotton was imported along with silk which is still sought after today. The greatest point to made however, is that Chinese and other Asian imports were so valuable that European governments instituted sumptuary laws to protect a social status quo. Today, anything of quality comes from Europe or the United States contrary to imports from the far east which are cheap and numerous.
Painted to Printed
Printed fabric in a way, is very similar to printed books. When each industry was first starting out, both had to produce their products by hand. This was an extremely tedious and time consuming task, but then the printer came along. After that, prints and books could both be mass produced extremely quickly. The final product for both industries was produced much faster and at a better quality that could be reprinted over and over again. For these reason, I chose to take a picture of a printer. The printer was the key to success in both industries and revolutionized the creation of different types of art.
As soon as Beyonce wore this KALE shirt, companies started mass producing it and selling it to people that wanted to look just like Beyonce. This shirt makes the wearer look healthy, organic, and relaxed. Kale also recently has become a trendy superfood and although the common person may not be aware of all the benefits that it provides, kale smoothies, kale chips and the like have become common foods that many enjoy from time to time. In my opinion, people do this because the people they admire do it. People that are healthier than them, people that are more famous than them, people that look better than them. I think there is a similar connection to how silk started out at the top of the classes, forbidden by sumptuary laws for less wealthy people to wear, to the common people having access to silk. It said in an article that the poor would go into debt just to look like their superiors.
Fashion and The Development of Industry in Europe
Before the 16th century, the clothing one wore worked to describe the social order within societies. The particular clothing selections were dependent of the rank of the wearer instead of being a conscious decision. However within the 16th century with the introduction of fine silks from Asia and cotton textiles from India, personal taste and aesthetic arose in the vocabulary of fashion. European consumerism grew and so did the market for imported clothing textiles. However, in seeing how much popularity and profit came to the producers and traders if these foreign goods, European entrepreneurs wanted in, and saw that by cutting out the middle man and producing these desired textiles domestically could prove very profitable, therefore a driving force for imitation emerged. At the start, Europe’s attempt undoubtedly failed to match the brilliance of its Asian counterpart. However, eventually the textile industry took off when in Amsterdam, the art of calico printing emerged. This development lead to other innovations such as using copper plates instead of rough wooden blocks for printing, and eventually the rotary printing machine. These innovations thus allowing them to compete and surpass their Asian counterparts in appealing to the ever changing taste of the European market.
Intricate Fabrics from India
My image is of a tapestry that is hanging on one of my hall mates’ walls. It reminded me of what an intricate fabric from India might have looked like, with patterns and colors that were hand painted. Decor and elegance were heavily desired by Europeans, creating a huge industry for cotton and silk and other goods imported from India. I think it is cool that certain luxury goods, like rugs from Asia and the Middle-East, are still considered luxury and superior in today’s world. In a way, these goods continue to signify status and wealth (think about it- the way a person’s house is decorated can be very telling of their socio-economic status and what they are able to afford).
quality over quantity
This weeks readings saw the emergence of the textile industry and the effect of textiles on the establishment on more modern fashion in the West. In particular, the popularization of Chinese silk and Indian cotton transformed the industry and the way people looked at clothing and fashion. For the first time, consumers were shopping, saving up for a specific piece they wanted in a particular fabric. No longer were individuals allowing their governments, who continued to try and implement sumptuary laws, to dictate what kind of fabric they could wear. Middle class individuals would find a way to wear silk, regardless of whether or not authorities told them to or not. The fabric of a person’s dress became another way for them to rebel against authorities and express their individualities- ideas that are still synonymous with fashion today.
The same principles continues to ring true. Often times when people shop, material plays an integral role in whether or not they will make a purchase. A quality silk garment is worth way more, in terms of comfort and looks, than a cheap polyester copy. A nice cotton t shirt is a staple in anyone’s wardrobe- and the hunt for that perfect shirt is long and strenuous. Good materials and the way a fabric feels still matter thanks to the introduction of quality fabrics from Asia and brought to Europe.
In 18th century Britain, fashion magazines emerged as the new source for information about global fashion. However, before magazines, fashion knowledge was transferred through local tailor shops. Many rural women were unfamiliar with the constantly changing fashion trends, and the only way to gain that knowledge was to consult with their local tailors. As soon as fashion magazines became available to everyone, the “middle man” (tailor) was tossed to the side. Soon, women were able to read the magazines and construct and sew their own clothes. Magazines and other paper prints spread the ideas of fashion worldwide, allowing women to have knowledge of other cultures’ attire. Now, the women who did not have access to this information were able to keep up with the latest trends. Having access to fashion magazines helped spread the globalization of fashion ideas.
Pictured above is a bulletin board, covered with notices and information about upcoming events. Both bulletin boards and fashion magazines inform people of the current events in their local communities, countries, and even the entire world. Each of the media forms teach readers about otherwise inaccessible global trends.
The reading talked about how cross-cultural exchanges between the Ottoman Empire and England through what they called “borderlands”. Obviously these two nations did not share a border so the so called “borderlands” that they refer to were made up of mostly port cities on the westernmost side of the Ottoman Empire. In these ports, goods and products, ideas, and customs never before seen by travelers, merchants, and diplomats were shared and brought back to England. Istanbul is a great example of one of these “borderlands”. It was in these port cities that many fashions, fabrics, and styles were discovered, brought back to England, and then adopted by English society. This is where my picture is relevant. I took the picture of some of my friends here at W&L hanging out in the library studying. I think W&L is like one of these borderlands. We all come here from different places and are exposed to new fashions, new styles and new ideas. If what the historians say is true then many of us should begin to adopt styles, fashions, and ideas from one another. I’m interested to see how some people’s manner of speech, dress, and taste change between now and our senior year after being exposed to so many new things.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman empire saw the introduction of coffeehouses. These coffeehouses were hubs for leisure and social inclusion during this time period, as it acted as a neutral meeting ground. In these spaces, the social classes of the time seemed to disappear. In the Karababa and Ger article, it talks about how these coffeehouses mirror the coffee shops we see today. We still use these coffee shops as places of leisure and relaxation, so I took a picture of my friend as she’s taking a break from studying and drinking coffee.
Coffeehouse Atmosphere: Always Available
As mentioned in the readings coffeehouses were a place where people gathered to exchange ideas and discuss the day. Poetry and arguments for or against government and religion were the intellectual products of coffeehouses. Likewise many students keep coffee machines in their rooms so that coffee is always available. Dorm rooms also serve as a coffeehouse where friends gather to work on homework, study, or just catch up with each other. Coffee serves as a vehicle for discussion, something to sip on during conversation. In this way the coffeehouse atmosphere of the Ottoman Empire is still preserved today.
never go out of style
In the Ottoman Empire, coffee was more than just a drink; it was the main method of socialization. The atmosphere of the Ottoman coffee shops promoted intellectual discussion of politics, art, and literature. They were places of entertainment, with music, games, and dancers, surrounded by an aesthetically pleasing environment and atmosphere. The style of coffee was sophisticated and appealing in the Ottoman Empire, and it can be that way today. In my picture I have shown my favorite coffee mug in my “stylish” environment of my room. While my dorm room provides no games or deep political discussion, it is a place for me to enjoy my coffee in a positive environment. Coffee will never go out of style because of its fantastic caffeinating qualities, but the style of the environment around coffee has changed throughout history.
Coffeehouse Common Room
This common room setting reminds me of a typical coffee shop that people could find today. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman Empire was introduced to coffeehouses, which were very similar to the coffee shops or Starbucks that we see today. At these coffeehouses, the Ottomans enjoyed a surplus of leisurely activities, and were able to socialize with people of all classes and debate current events and issues in the society. Essentially, these coffeehouses were a perfect escape from the day’s responsibilities. This picture further incorporates a fireplace that the regular coffeehouse-goers would always sit by, secluded in their own spacious corner. Relaxed and refreshed, the regulars engaged in simply chatter, gossip, or literary conversations.
The Ottoman Influence
One of the things I found most interesting from the first article by Inal was how British women admired the liberties and freedoms of the Ottoman women; thus, the they began to adopt their style. Pants, because they were worn by both Ottoman men and women, symbolized a certain equality (or somewhat equality) among the sexes, which is probably why the trousers appealed to the British women. Though most of the British cross-cultural dress was done for special occasions, balls, and masquerades, Ottoman dress (and general lifestyle) seemed to have an influence on the women’s suffrage movement in Great Britain. British women expected the Ottoman women to be oppressed and “slaves to their husbands,” but they found it to be quite the contrary when they were actually able to visit the Ottoman Empire.
Promoting the Exchange of Fashion Ideas
Magazines, and other writings detailing one others consumer culture was crucial in the spread of trends between Europe and the Ottoman Empire. Magazines allowed women to have first hand knowledge on what the rest of the world was doing and wearing, without having to make long journeys abroad. Although Europeans first became fascinated with Ottoman clothing through early descriptions on their dress, it took the Ottoman years later to adopt European styles of dress. The spread of the press in major cities of the Ottoman Empire facilitated the Ottoman women to accept European clothing. These women began to subscribe not only to magazines in the Turkish language, but to European magazines as well. After reading these magazines, the Ottoman women began getting their clothes tailored in a European manner. Some women, if not satisfied with the imitation of European dress, ordered their clothes directly from Paris in order to match the magazines.
Beginning in the mid-16th century there was a change in consumer culture, one that allowed the rigid social structure of the Ottoman empire of the ruling and ruled to become more fluid. This is due to a more fashionable demand for luxury goods and and increase of cheaper versions of those goods. In response the Ottoman government passed sumptuary laws. However, around this time coffeehouses were rising and becoming more popular. These houses allowed for a neutral, equal footing, ground for all but women, to relax and have a social environment away from mosque, work and home. The coffeehouses got rid of the guest/host dichotomy and allowed for teasing, laughing and debates. The houses were also places of luxury as there were blue and white Chinese cups, red carpets, books, poems, musical instruments, comfortable chairs, and in some cases fountains. Even the servants were expected to be young, beautiful and sexually appealing. The regulars were able to sit on a raised platform in the corner, which were the elderly and coffee addicts. Although coffee houses were highly debated in the Islamic religion, they spread to other regions of Europe, and versions of them can be seen today.
Washington and Lee’s coffeehouse culture
In the Ottoman Empire coffeehouses were meeting places for everyone. People of many classes and ranks could come together in these coffeehouses and socialize. Most of the time, coffeehouses were used as meeting grounds for gossiping, using illicit drugs, or reading poetry. Today coffeehouses have the same purpose, minus the illicit drug use. Here on campus, the coffeehouses are meeting places for people of many different grades. It is not uncommon to walk into Hillel or LexCo and see freshmen hanging out with seniors. While together, people here socialize and gossip, and on occasion you will see people studying, possibly poetry. Coffeehouses have changed over time in that they are no longer seen as sinful, but the use for coffeehouses has stayed similar.
Women at the Forefront of Fashion
The borderland of the Ottoman empire became a cultural exchange hub for all Turkish and English goods alike. The major game changing item of exchange made between the Ottomans and the English were their clothing, thus bringing significant cultural adaptations from their exposure to each other. European women, who were inspired by the more rights of Turkish women, took the liberty to adapt the clothing styles of Ottoman women as a protest to the conservative rules of dress over women, such as adapting trousers and petticoats. This coincided with an arising feminism movement. However, the Ottoman women took European women styles and incorporated the styles into their own clothing, such as adding ruffles and flower ornaments. Cultural elements from Europe were widespread among the fashion of many classes within the Ottoman society, while Ottoman influences remained among the European elite.
The change in the fashion scene was significantly dominated by the interaction between Ottoman and European women, in that European women were only allowed access into the private dwellings of Ottoman harem, thus gaining valuable insight on the fashion their Ottoman counterparts.
A Relaxing Elixir
Coffee for me is an excellent aid for relaxation. Most favorable after a long dinner with the family, but almost equally welcome in a cafe a hot cup of coffee is best enjoyed in the company of friends. Since the Ottoman Empire coffee has had this effect in the social setting. It has a knack for bringing people together for a small escape from responsibility. It provides a warm environment that broods conversation and intellectual stimulation. It has shaped entire cultures in this very aspect, the same aspect for which I treasure my cup of coffee.
The Beginning of Hammer Time
Prior to trade with the Ottomans, European women solidified their role in a paternalistic society by wearing dresses. During the nineteenth century, skirts and dresses became a form of dress for primarily women, and men began to sport solely pants and shirts. Women’s dresses were ornate and often women had their own tailor to ensure their garments form fitted to their bodies. For this reason, their clothes often inhibited their movements and confirmed the belief that women should look “pretty” all the time. During this era British women had few rights of their own. Ottoman women, on the other hand, experienced various rights and freedoms and held a much higher place in society. This could be seen in their dress as they wore the often considered male only style of pant, which looks like modern day harem pants. In British culture, dress between males and females was extremely separate, but in the Ottoman Empire men and women could be seen in very similar apparel. Early British adopters of the women’s suffrage movement saw the appeals and benefits of pants and tried to implement them. Not only did the Ottoman’s style of dress and women’s more masculine approach to dress inspire British women, but the synonymous ideas about women’s freedoms and their place is society also affected British women and led to their fight for universal suffrage.
Then and Now: Unchanged
The fashion described in the first reading seems extremely similar to the fashion of today. When reading the article I kept thinking to myself, I wear that, or I own something similar to that. It is amazing how these fashion trends have either lasted since the 17th century or gone away and come back in style much later. Depicted in the picture are a headband, a jacket, and a belt. In the reading, it discussed the new trend in the 17th century of “tight jackets, gold and silver accessories, and hair ornaments” (Karababa and Ger, 2001). These items are still extremely fashionable today. I found it so interesting how fashion defies time and people now had similar taste to people back then even though they are separated by over 400 years. I also blurred the face in the image to blur the time period, to show that the picture could be now or in the 17th century.
Symbols in Fashion
Peter the Great brought many changes to society in Russia, affecting fashion and the social scene. His main point was to break away from traditional and religious Russian styles, and promote a new Russian culture. While the system wasn’t entirely a freedom in fashion, it allowed for new clothes and styles to enter the Russian sphere. Many jobs were prescribed new uniforms, and celebrities and politicians began to use their freedom of fashion to express political ideals. Peter I wanted to promote Russian nationalism through clothing, so he changed everything up. Clothing today is often used as a symbol of political or religious ideals, and my tiny monogram necklace serves as a symbol of who I am. While the necklace doesn’t make any grand statements about government or religion, it gives those around me a little piece of information about the wearer.
I mustache you a question, but I’ll shave it for later
In 18th century Russia, Peter I decided that Russian fashion needed to emulate that of Europe. As a result, he ordered all Russian men, except priests and peasants, to shave their beards. If they did not comply, they were taxed for their facial hair. This caused an absolute uproar within the old, traditional Russian communities. The older Russian men dearly loved and valued their beards, so they were reluctant to shave. Even after they shaved, they saved their beards in order to place them in their coffin once dead. However, they younger men were much more willing to shave. They thought the fresh, clean look made them more appealing to the opposite sex.
Pictured above are my brothers and me with fake Santa-beard suckers. If we were to have these beards in 18th century Russia, we would have been fined. Since we are of a younger generation though, we would have willingly shaved because old traditions were not ingrained into our lives.
Good and Bad
I decided to include a picture of scissors because the idea of cutting hair was both good and bad for men and women respectively during this time in Russia. The article started by talking about the idea that men began cutting their beards and wearing shorter caftans. However, it also talked about how Elizabeth would cut the hair of women who dared to try to look better than her. This cutting of hair was good for men, but was used in order to punish women.
Cutting of Beards
It was Russian tradition for years to have long beards with very short hair, except for the ecclesiastics who wore their hair long to set themselves apart. However, when Peter the Great became the tsar he wanted to change this custom, so he ordered that everyone, expect of peasants and priest, to cut off their beards. If they did not cut off their beards, they were subject to pay a tax of one hundred rubles a year. The Tsar’s men were stationed at the gates of towns to collect the beard taxes. The people of the city were dissatisfied with this reform because they believed it was an abolition of their religion. Men who were use to having the beard feared that without their beards they would not be able to enter into heaven. Young men were more ready to accept the tsar’s reforms.
Bye Bye Beardie
In the 18th century, in an attempt to westernize Russia, Peter I ordered that all gentlemen, merchants, and other subjects shave off their beards, or pay a tax in order to keep them. This caused an outrage among the older, more traditional Russians, for beards were a sign of dignity, honor, and respect. Many believed this order was a crime against the church, and they despised the new European dress that was forced upon them. Some people’s beliefs extended so far that they saved their shaved beards in order to have it buried with them in their graves, granting them access to heaven. In order to carry out his plan to democratize society through more comfortable and simpler styles, Peter I cut off many beards himself, as demonstrated in the image above. However, while the adherents to the old customs despised the new reforms, the younger generations enjoyed the new styles and clean shaven faces, for they believed it enhanced their looks and made them more desirable.
Fashion Power Plays
In the 18th century Russia there were many clothing reforms that varied among the tsars at the time. The rulers used laws concerning fashion to change how the nation felt and acted. One tsar was Peter I, who tried to change the nation to model the Western countries by forcing the Russian population to adapt the French style and get rid of the traditional Russian style. Among these sumptuary laws there was a tax placed on keeping beards. This ruling caused the people to see Peter I as a tyrant because long beards were an esteemed tradition in Russia. Banning beards was considered to go against the church, as the beard was seen as a necessity to get into heaven by some of the older generation. The youth accepted the reforms easier because they thought it made them look more desirable to women.
Another supporter of the French style was Peter’s daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth punished any woman who dressed or looked better than her. She also held masquerades, called “Metamorphosis”, in which the guest were forced to cross dress. Elizabeth used theses masquerades to assert her feminine power in a patriarchal society and prove that the gender roles were purely superficial. In the photo, my roommate Elizabeth dresses as a man, symbolizing the Russian Empress Elizabeth, by posing in a power stance.
Strakhov in his book La Mode made inanimate objects talk, longing to become part of the exclusive court fashions again. One of the items is a muffler, which has been relegated to a trunk, being no longer fashionable. In my photo I used a scarf as a muffler to depict what the brief-lived Russian style might have looked like. Many styles though dead ten years ago have been revived. Bohemian style sleves and bell-bottom jeans which were considered out of style in the early 2000’s have now made a reappearance. Who knows when mufflers will be back in style?
Changing Fashions in Russia
One of the most interesting (and amusing) things I read in the article was how Elizabeth of Russia could “not tolerate any competition” so she would cut or shave the hair of a female that challenged her in fashion or looks. This seems very extreme, and is an example of what Strakhov might of mocked in his satyrs.
I also found it fascinating how much clothing, and the expectations of dress for a Russian male or female, changed between monarchs. Some kings/queens wanted Russian nobles to dress according to European styles, while others wanted to invoke patriotism by bringing back traditional Russian dress. Political policy really went hand in hand with clothing and a vestmentary system in Russia.
Symbols of a Man
Today, we so eagerly associate shaving with the concept of the modern hardworking man. For Russia in the late 1600’s however, it was quite the opposite. Up until 1700 the fullness of a mans beard was a marker of his place in the Russian society as a capable and respected man. It was in that year that Czar Peter I revolutionized the culture of high scoiety by modeling the fashions of his royal court to fit the examples of the French “La Mode.” This included not only new dress regulations, but also the trimming of all beards.
Peter I, the emperor who set the precedent for European clothing in Russia, had a daughter named Elizabeth. As he was emperor was over, she enjoyed this power. Her father had set very strict sumptuary laws that applied to both men and women. The people of Russia did not understand this. All their lives they had thought that their clothes, hair, and accessories were supposed to reflect on their inner soul. When all of a sudden they had to be told what to wear, they thought it was sacrilegious. Once younger generations grew up with Elizabeth, they began to get excited about their new vogues. If Elizabeth saw a woman trying to dress as nice as she should, or dressed as nice as royalty, she would publicly humiliate them by cutting off their hair or even shave their heads (the most feminine part of the female body).
Leveling The Playing Field
These reading I found to be very interesting. I was incredibly surprised to find out that Peter I, as a monarch with such extreme power rooted in tradition and a traditional system, was rather progressive with his sartorial reform. Instead of restricting social mobility through vestimentary systems, he aimed to aid upward mobility by leveling the playing field so to speak. Peter I sought to do this by decreasing the visual differences between all memebers of Russian polite society. If people look more similar then the class structure won’t be so tightly monitored and rigid. By lessening the obvious class distinctions it creates a more fluid system. Thats where my picture comes into play. The two jackets both seem to look similar. But in reality, one cost $12 at goodwill and the other is pretty nice. But because they look similar enough nobody would be able to immediately identify them as belonging to different social classes.
My fashion legislator
In Russia the rulers were known as fashion legislators. They made the rules of who could wear what and taxed citizens who did not follow the rules. Josie likes the think of herself as my fashion legislator. I am too indecisive on what I should wear, so she always helps me pick out my clothes. While she does not demand exactly what I wear, she has an opinion when I ask for help. Luckily, I do not get taxed for not accommodating her personal style. Sometimes us girls need help and having a friend as a fashion legislator helps decisions get made.
A Man and His Beard: A Story of True Love
During the time of Peter the Great, there was much reform by means of clothing. Peter was obsessed with European culture and therefor required all his subjects to dress in European clothes. One thing that was required was that the Russian men must shave their cherished beards. The beard was not just hair, it was considered sacred. Featured in my image, is a boy holding his shaven beard close because he doesn’t want to lose it. Many men would save their beards to be buried with them when they died. However, many younger men embraced the losing of the beard. This time period represents the beginning of Russia’s interest in European culture, and more specifically French culture.
Russia Wrapped around La Mode’s Finger
The writer Strakhov takes a creative approach to revealing the faults of Russia’s fashion system in the 18th century by creating literature in the epistolary form centered around his heroine: La Mode. La Mode was a fictional character created to personify the emerging consumerism in Russian society. Russians were loosing the meaning attributed and spiritual value to their clothing and seeking to replicate the styles of the West. He chose the epistolary form in order to reveal the direct control the social hierarchy had on the fashion scene. Within Strakhov’s writing, he would personify traditional clothing of Russian culture and have them write letters to La Mode to reveal their fading popularity.The clothing of the past would write or submit petitions to La Mode and plead their appearance/popularity at court back. The Russian society was driven by acquiring items and showing them off. The clothing eventually became so important that instead of the human wearing the clothes, the clothes wore the human. The clothes became much more important than the individual, overshadowing them. Strakhov means to express the absurdity of this trend and importance clothing has, in embodying all the ill-qualities into one single being.
The Origin Of Stripes
Throughout history, France seems to be ahead of the world in fashion. Russian rulers such as Peter the Great and his successor Elizabeth picked up on this fact early and tried to implement the styles and fashions of France during their reigns as a way to modernize and westernize their people. French men and women valued clothing and fashion and the importance of looking nice and when French apparel was introduced in Russia the same values were implemented there as well.
Today, France is still synonymous with fashion. Particularly in the United States we still have a fascination with the cool, effortless and unmistakably chic fashion of Parisians. Over the years we have adopted several French styles and fashion trends such as the leather jacket, messy hair, in depth skincare regimens, ballet flats and Chanel bags. This is why the idea that stripes, a trend embraced by French men and women everywhere and epitomizing their understated cool style, not being invented by the French, comes as such a shock. According to the reading stripes were actually introduced in America during the Revolution and then later adopted by the French during their own revolution. Despite our admiration for French fashion and culture and their absolute reign in the fashion industry, it is nice to know that one of the most distinctive trends in France does not actually come from France but the US.
Made in ‘Merica
During the Revolutionary war, American patriotism was an important factor that help the colonies defeat Great Britain. A key example of patriotism was the concept of homespun clothing and goods. Because the colonists did not want to indulge in English products (despite their heavy reliance on them), imported goods from other counties and homemade products became the new market items. Homespun clothing were very patriotic and represented the new American identity. They were simple and elegant, causing even the elites in society to sport this new patriotic fashion trend. Harvard graduates in the 1760s wore homespun clothes during their commencement ceremony; not luxurious and imported English fabric. As the colonists began to rely more on their selves than Great Britain, displaying their American pride became an everyday practice.
In the picture above, a label says, “Made in the USA”. Despite this being on a cosmetic product, it represents how the colonists would create their own clothes. These homespun goods were one of the crucial aspects in helping the American’s win the Revolutionary war.
Knitting for the Revolution
The colonies of the United States, who had regulations and rules shoved down their throats on goods and services by the British, wanted to fight back and make a stand against the mother country and their ridiculous notions of the Stamp Act, the Sugar Act, and others. Thus, the homespun revolution – where women and men boycotted all foreign goods, and made everything from scratch practically, with American tools and materials. Many women joined together to work on quilting, needlepoint and embroidery, and even developed the true American cuisine. This sweater of mine was knitted by a grandmother friend of mine, and would definitely have been allowed in the American colonial culture in the late 1700s, as it was made by hand by an American with American goods – yarn and buttons. Can’t get much more homespun than that!
Made in America
As dissatisfaction with Britain grew in the colonies, attention was devoted to create a new American culture, with new holidays and symbols. Americans began to critique luxury items valued in the mother land, and prided themselves on a simpler way of life. Woman began to make simple homespun garments to characterize a political movement, which separated them from Europe. These simple garments worn by colonist were very effective because they stood out compared to the elaborate silk garments of colonial elites. Throughout the nation, people started to produce all types of goods with symbols of American nationalism on them. Like the sweatshirt in the picture, things were created in red, white, and blue, with the flag or other revolutionary symbols on them.
We Love George
I have already added my post for this week, but I was walking in the library and saw this massive display of George Washington. All the memorabilia reminded me of the American made goods in the readings and just wanted to share this relevant picture.
Spin to Win
Outraged with the revenue taxes imposed on them by England, colonies agreed on a nonimportation agreement, and thus vowed to boycott all British goods. Colonists then had to figure out to achieve this goal and break their consumption patterns. Although women could not vote or serve in public office, their role during the boycotts was vital, for they were key in creating homespun clothing. While homespun clothing was only common in rural parts of America, city women desperately needed to learn the skill in order to successfully boycott British textiles. Spinning matches were held in cities, where women would compete to see who could spin the most thread in a certain amount of time. Not only was this a great way to involve women who typically did not spin, but the clothes spun were given to the men in the war, ultimately enabling Americans to break their reliance on Britain and create a new national identity through their homespun clothing.
Made in the U.S.A.
In our reading, the author talked about the importance of homespun and its influence on the politics at the time. During this time, as Americans were beginning to assert their independence, it was important that Americans began making their own textiles and products so as to no longer depend on foreign goods. I decided to take a photo of the tag of a shirt that said “Made in America.” This was important during this time in history, but it’s also an important movement today that we focus more on domestic manufacturing than manufacturing abroad.
During and after the Revolutionary War symbols of freedom were prominent. The national seal was often depicted on quilts and George Washington’s face was seen on buttons. Many revered presidents and important figures are depicted on our currency. Symbolizing freedom, Washington’s face was put on the quarter, reminding the population of the founding fathers. Through the depictions of these symbols on clothing, quilts, and currency Americans created a national identity, centered around the idea of independence.
The United States struggled for decades to find their own identity and fashion. The people of the colonies chose not to wear elegant items from Europe as a patriotic symbol. They instead wore homespun clothing made of indigenous fabric. Today, American companies have taken a new approach to show patriotism in fashion. The classic Old Navy T-shirts and almost any item stamped with the American flag can be found in every household across the nation. Here, a tunic has the stars and stripes found on the flag printed on a body wearing a bikini. This bathing suit cover up shows the patriotism the owner has (it is also great for the 4th of July). America clearly found it’s unique identity and fashion and can be found in anyone’s closet.
With the growing tensions between the American colonists and their homeland, the American colonists wanted to dissociate themselves from the English as much as possible. This included the clothing they wore, the way the acted , and what entertainment they partook of. Eventually, luxury in itself was associated with the English and the Americans were worried that if they partook in those things, their minds would be corrupted. The need for American values was as apparent as ever. Pamphlets, plays, quilts, and embroidery, attempted to instill American values into the massively diverse colonists. The simple, the modest, and the manly was associated with the American spirit. Also, the feeling of independence was expressed through the production of native goods, native entertainment, and native cuisine. The American Revolution in the end not only aimed to separate political ties with the English but also consumer, trade, and cultural ties. Although the Americans eventually gained their liberation politically from Britain, it would take even longer to completely separate in all realms completely. Additionally, even though they worked to become and prove to be a different people than the English, it would prove difficult for them to come together as a whole in representative union.
Homespun Wool Blanket
This picture was perfect for this reading. It is a prime example of homespun wool. This one is even more special because it depicts the flag of the thirteen colonies. This was incredible for the time because it finally showed the colonists desire to be viewed as separate from England. This blanket actually was homemade. My Aunt knit this blanket for me before I went away to college. It took her just about an entire winter to make. This just goes to show how much of a commitment these colonists were making when they embarked on the boycott of British goods. To actually make all your own garments is a huge time commitment and massive project. This just shows how important the ideology was to the colonists and how unfairly they really thought they were being treated.
It all began when the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act. The American colonist were outraged by the “taxation without representation” as Parliament continued to put taxes on goods imported into the Americas to help England out of a financial burden. In response the colonists decided to boycott taxed items. It began the Homespun movement, where Americans made their own clothing. The colonists soon began to object to any luxurious things, including theater. As they began to think of themselves as separate from England they needed an emblem to help unify the very separate and different states. At first it was the snake, which was used by Paul Revere in The Massachusetts Spy, and on the Gadsden Flag, and was previously used in Italy to represent democracy and in French a cut snake with the logo “Join or die”. Eventually the American Eagle was chosen because it had a connection to the European eagle used by the Romans but was still independent. This emblem along with Revolutionary figures were used in portraits, embroidery, and quilts to honor the Revolution. The importance of textiles in the Revolutionary events allowed women to have a more political role, as these items were distinctly American.
Styles from the Past
The image of the young boys jacket on pages 88 of Auslander reminded me of a jacket that my boss gave to me over the summer. The first thing that struck me is the make of the shoulders. This boy’s jacket, like many jackets trending from Europe today, is known as a soft coat. It has no structure in the back or in the shoulder i.e. no padding or interior fabrics. The shoulder is described as a natural shoulder as the outer fabric lies directly on the shoulder of the wearer. The next similarity that caught my eye was the contour of the jackets figure. Its cut with a taper in the abdomen but flares as the line moves in either direction up to the shoulders or down to the hips. Though it id difficult to see the contour of my jacket in this image, I can assure you that the contour is similar. Third and lastly, the pocket. My jacket, just like the boy’s jacket in the image, features an open pocket sewn to the outside of the garment. This is a trend that is new since the last year or two as jackets have found a place in the more casual setting once more.
This Ain’t Gonna Fly
After the Stamp Act in 1763, there was an increase in nationalism among the colonies. One aspect of this new found nationalism was the rejection and boycotting of goods from England. It was now extremely fashionable to wear home spun clothing. This clothing created unity among the colonies and promoted a new love for the new world rather than the mother country. Pictured in my image is a Barbour jacket that was made in England. This clothing item would be considered unacceptable during this time of revolution. Wearing this jacket in public back them would have been seem as an act of betrayal towards the colonies. Home spun clothing were not just fashionable but also represented patriotism and a love for America.
In an attempt to free themselves from their British ties , Americans during the Revolutionary War rejected the image the British associated with them of a young Indian girl and altered the symbol. The Americans chose to keep the Indian part of their image feeling as if the character represented an authentic and genuine American and helped distance themselves from the British who were very different from the indigenous Indians. The Americans knew, however, they would have to change the child part of their image since they were trying to portray themselves as strong and independent and a child depends on their parent, sending the wrong message. That is when Benjamin Franklin came up with the rattlesnake as a symbol. In his mind, a rattle snake represented the perfect symbol for the colonies trying to break away from British control. Not only was the snake native to North America and therefore symbolized the new terrain, but a rattlesnake has 13 different rattles which Franklin believed perfectly illustrated the 13 colonies. Each colony was different and independent but also worked together and joined the other colonies to make up one strong and powerful entity, just as a snake had 13 different rattles but the rattles together made up the snake. Alone each colony was successful but together they could be unstoppable. Additionally, some say that Franklin discovered the snake represented democracy in an Italian book and therefore connected the colonies back to Europe. The symbol of the snake representing the colonies illustrates the shift in attitudes among colonists from everything British including clothes, ideas and interpretations of America to reinventing these facets in an American way.
When the Stamp Act was enforced in 1763, American’s did not take it kindly. They immediately boycotted the stamps and began to manufacture their own goods. Woman began hand spinning yarn and making their own clothes and fabrics. These fabrics were usually made of wool. Another popular fashion trend was the use of buttons. Women began to get very into the sport of “spinning”. They would hold spinning matches and compete for who could spin cloth the quickest. Boycotting the goods from Britain became a very important aspect of their lives. This blanket I sleep with reminds me of what the wools would look like, made of yarn. However it is made in China…
Straw Hats: the Émigré Empire
Émigrés, desperate for a life of fashion, but knowing they could not return to tumultuous France, often started businesses of simple and basic fashion in their new homes. Some were seamstresses, some started little companies of embroidery and needlework, but the biggest fad that émigrés started was straw hats. Straw hats were already a hugely popular in Italy, where they were woven with the best straw by experts of the trade. Using cheaper materials but following that luxurious model, émigrés sold and promoted straw hats in London and other places in Europe. While the Italians always did it better than they did, they made some money with these fun hats. My straw hat is usually worn at the beach, but could’ve been modeled by an émigré straw hat from the 1700s.
Why are we here again?
In the late 1780s, France fell into a massive financial crisis. The country’s finance minister, Calonne, thought his strategy of “mass public spending” would strengthen France’s economy and would destroy the inevitable economic crash. He was wrong. In fact, he did the absolute opposite. His plan depended on the global banking market and borrowing a ridiculous amount of loans. Once 1786 came around, Calonne could no longer raise loans. The only answer to fix his enormous problem was to raise France’s taxes. For everyone. This radical move was violently rejected by the nobles. Why? Because they have never had to pay taxes before. Even King Louis XVI hated the idea, but he saw no other option. He assembled the Assembly of Notables for the first time in 160 years. He believed they would pass these new tax reforms because, well, the King himself handpicked the members! To the King’s dismay and shock, the reforms did not pass and nothing got accomplished in the meeting.
This irony reminded me of the United States’ Congress. They assemble in order to solve the country’s problems and make the necessary reforms, yet the joke is they never get anything done.
Like in todays world, where people value a good profile picture, as it is what you present of yourself to others, during the French Revolution Marie-Antoinette was carefully illustrated in a portrait that would be shown to her people. She placed high value on this portrait, making sure she had the right clothing on, the right amount of jewelry on, the right posture, the right background, and with the right people. She believed if she was painted in the right light, the French population would warm up to her, as she was partially blamed for the financial instability at the time. Unfortunately, the portrait did not meet the goals she was aiming for and the people remained dissatisfied with her. The value people place on portraits has been consistent with many of the societies we have studied. For example, the Casta Paintings were also painted with high importance on every detail.
No Necklace, No Problems?
Prior to the French Revolution, there was a strong dissatisfaction with the rulers of France. Marie-Antoinette’s popularity was at an all-time low, as she was associated with a necklace scandal, there were rumors of her having an affair, she had a gambling addiction, she freely spent money, and she was the target of humiliating pornographic prints. In order to try and regain some support and popularity from her people, Marie-Antoinette had a new portrait painted of herself. In this portrait with her children, Marie-Antoinette is dressed regally, however, she wears no necklace (similar to the image above), though her jewel case is displayed in the background. This was an allusion to a Roman story in an attempt to show that Marie Antoinette’s children were her most prized possession, and that the people of France, who could also be considered her children in a sense, were also deeply cared about by her. However, her reputation could not be saved, and the portrait was actually removed from the Salon.
I decided to photograph an empty frame because I thought the discussion in the reading about Marie Antoinette and the spending of the French court was extremely interesting. I thought the fact that she and her advisors worked so hard to make her more appealing to the French public was extremely interesting, especially the fact that it failed in such a major way. I thought one of the most interesting things from the reading was the fact that they disliked her so much that they took out the painting and merely left the empty frame, which they called “the Deficit Queen,” after her nickname.
Red, White, and Blue- the three colors that we hold close to our hearts when we think of the United States. What I often forget though, is that these three colors mean just as much to the French, who call them- la Tricolore. The bourbon white, representing Louis XVI juxtaposed against red and blue, the cities colors, is a call for the reconciliation of the crown. La Tricolore was worn by all in late 18th century France as a marker for he revolution. It coincided with many different fashions that held the same purpose such as the trousers or red bonnets. The collection of all of these trends culminated in a powerful political force strong enough to eject the monarchy from rule.
The Storm is Coming
A storm was brewing in the country of France. What the monarchy of feared most finally came to pass in the 1780’s. The ruled began to feel resentment toward their rulers. The court spending ,although but a fraction of consumption if the country, triggered catastrophic consequences to the overall well being of its citizens. The ruled began to see the rulers, and especially Queen Marie Antoinette as representing the ill of their country. As the queen’s reputation and the loyalty to the monarchy steadily declined, a new fashion movement in the name of rebellion arose from the depths. Women quit their high heels and ridiculous hooped petticoats, men gave up their powdered wigs and buckled shoes. They adopted other clothing that figuratively spit in the face of norm luxury and the etiquette set by the monarchy. Although this rebellion was on a small scale, it soon ignited the spark that would forever change the fate of the monarchy and the economy of France all together.
Red, white, and blue were the colors that represented the French Revolution. These colors, known as the tri colors, would be worn by the supporters of the revolution. The tri colors showed patriotism and brought a sense of community to the country. Men who were eligible and willing to fight for their country would always bear these colors to show that they were waiting on call.
In the United States during the American Revolution patriots also were seen around sporting the tri colors. Red, white, and blue seem to be the colors of freedom, for most countries that have endured a revolution use these colors to represent themselves.
In 1789, the Estates-General of France made a decision that, instead of regulating fashion and suppressing revolution, actually sparked more controversial fashion choices. The decided to set a uniform for the delegates. Because this decision was obviously made from the top, the uniforms were more luxurious towards the top of the estates, and more bland towards the lower estate. The clergy and nobles wore “splendid suits” of silk, gold, trimmings, cloaks, hats, and swords. However the third and lowest estate were assigned an all black cloth suit. Obviously the contrast between their uniforms and the higher up estates was quite noticeable, and soon the deputies began to protest, along with their supporter. Their supporters were wearing all black as well to show the nobles who’s side they were on. Even though the uniform was revoked a few months later, people continued to wear all black to revolt against nobles.
The Cockade in The French Revolution
While reading this article, I was drawn to the images of the red, white, and blue cockade symbol that was worn by supporters of the Revolution (so I tried to imitate it for my image). The cockade is a representation of the unity, and equality, that revolutionaries tried to spread throughout society.
I also think it’s fascinating that, because revolutionaries shunned the high-fashion connection with the monarchy, the entire fashion system almost collapsed. Tensions were high between the nobility and bourgeiousie, and wearing fashionable clothes could be potentially dangerous for royalists.
The New Fashion Police
Prior to the French Revolution, the wealthy called the shots in fashion and in life. The aristocracy had all the power, and this was especially true and represented in their clothing choices. Wealthy individuals had an image to maintain and like in all other societies we have studied before, this was applied to their apparel. Elaborate and over the top clothing choices were an easy and quick way for the upper class to distinguish themselves from the masses. This was the norm in society across cultures and time periods, until the French Revolution. During the revolution, everything changed. The lower class sans-culottes were the ones in charge, and the wealthy followed their lead. Instead of wearing the over the top and impractical garb they were used to, the wealthy looked to the lower classes for style inspiration. As the article so nicely put it, “it was no longer in fashion to be in fashion”. The trends that were so popular right before the revolution commenced were quickly replaced by more simple, loose and common looking clothing. No longer were there distinct rules for how to dress, and authorities telling people what was “in-style”. As the monarchy and aristocracy quickly decayed so did all symbols representing these groups, including anything of luxury or high quality. Now the rich were not dressing to stand out, but to fit in. This change in fashion and who dictated what was in vogue represented the change in power and who was ruling the country. It also showed that all associated with the old, pre revolution France would be condemned and all associated with commoners and the newer, revolutionary styles would be encouraged.
The French Revolution changed more than the government of France, it changed the way the French looked. Before the Revolution and in the years it was brewing, the French nobility dressed in ostentatious ways. There was silk, embroidery, layers and bright colors. It was a very opulent time. The harsh winter of 1788-89 only contrasted the difference between the rich’s luxury and the poor’s destitution. It was therefore, that the revolutionaries viewed fashion and luxury as tyrants. The revolutionaries abolished the long standing hierarchy given by birth and established that everyone was just a citizen. The nobility no longer wore extravagant garments in fear of being viewed as anti-revolutionaries. As expressed in “Revolution and Recovery” fashion was no longer in fashion. However, the rules of the new simple look were just as strict, if not stricter than, the old sumptuary laws. I took a picture of a fan and scarves to represent the variety of fabrics and embroidery that was used prior the the revolution. During the revolution the clothes were much plainer and scenes from the revolution such as the destruction of the Bastille, were very common. No one was allowed to show any allegiance to the old monarchy, not even to mourn them after they were executed. However, some secretly did, by using fans that would have hidden messages when partially folded. A lot of swinging between austerity and opulence would take place before the balance in fashion would be restored.
The Common Clothing
While hooped skirts, powdered wigs, crazy hats, and tight pants ruled the French court during the time period of the revolution, conflict led to new clothing styles among that masses. There was a switch to comfier clothing, including culottes, which symbolized the rebellion of the middle class. Soon these types of clothing were recognizable as instruments of the revolution. In the same way jeans represent the common cause. During World War Two Rosie the Riveter was seen wearing a denim top, uniting people for a cause through clothing.
Around the time of the French Revolution there was an extreme shift away from all things that were commonly worn by the nobility. The commoners began to riot and persecute the rich for their form of dress. Instead of standing up against the commoners the nobles joined in the riots. There began to seem to be no distinction between classes. Tailors would rather be working for the lowest class than the royals and all forms of clothing that were common to the upper class, such as lace, were looked down upon. Decorations were even taken down from stores that were considered loyal to the monarchy. Marie Antoinette began to interact with her own people less because she was afraid them. I took a picture of the flag from the American Revolution because this revolution was also marked by a movement toward all things American and a rejection of British clothing.
Out Of Style
Once the revolution was in full force, nobody wanted to be connected to the noble classes of the old regime. That was practically a death sentence. The wealthy elite fled the country as fast as they could. This was a big problem for the people who made the fancy clothes and jewelry and adornment that the nobles bought. They had no market anymore to sell to. Many went out of business or also left the country taking their talents elsewhere. Well renowned designers who previously advertised the notable elites who wore their clothes quickly cut all such ties. During this time period fashion in France, particularly Paris, changed very quickly. Grand opulent gowns and costumes with so much make-up and powdered wigs were looked down upon. A more laid back, lazier style took place. Once the dust of the revolution had settled and it was safe to come back, many people were shocked to see how differently people dressed. Many of the emrigés no longer fit the mold of what was fashionable. My photo shows someone entering a room dressed nicely and getting very odd looks from the three guys on the couch. This represents the opinions of the people of France as people returning from exile came back wearing strange looking garments.