These days, purses, pouches, backpacks, and other bags are so popular that it might seem as though they are relatively new inventions. You may be surprised to learn that purses and other types of bags were popular in the medieval period. Archeologists are digging up remnants of medieval bags all the time, giving us a better understanding of what life was really like during this period. At Pearsonís Renaissance Shoppe, we strive to bring you historically accurate pieces, and our selection of medieval bags carries on this dedication.
As with most of medieval fashion, medieval bags were primarily only available to upper class individuals. While the lower class had bags, they were usually made from whatever materials were around and were usually not very secure or well-made. This may actually be why it is so common for people to find medieval coins Ė lower class people couldnít hold anything in their bags! For those who could afford them, medieval bags were made with precision and with strong, sturdy materials. Many medieval bags and purses were made not for holding valuables but were used in ceremonies like marriage. These bags would be bejeweled and decorated to match the pomp and circumstance of the occasion.
Medieval bags were also called chaneries. Chaneries were all-purpose bags that were used in almost all aspects of medieval life. These medieval bags were used to hold sporting equipment and food for pets. There was actually another form of bag that was used specifically for religious purposes. These highly significant medieval bags were used to carry relics and other religious iconography.
In addition to finding medieval bags through archeological excavations, we have learned a lot about medieval bags through medieval artwork. For example, we have seen through artwork that pockets were not part of medieval fashion, so purses were used to carry everyday items like coins, prayer beads, and small wax tablets and stylus Ė things we carry around in our pockets. Medieval art depicts women carrying around medieval bags, buying medieval bags, and even reaching into them for money. Men are depicted with medieval bags, both ornate and practical, as well.
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