Thursday, September 3, 2015


Lewis Chess men
British Museum

News in general, there is an impressive story about how the Lewis Chess Men could have been carved by a woman, as  female artwork is so sparse in the medieval period, there is a certain satisfaction thinking that someone who carved these expressive little figurines could have been female!

These stolid, expressive little figurines are star draws in the museums that possess them. Ms Brown aptly calls them “Norse netsuke” (after the little Japanese carvings), shaped with skill and whimsy from what the Icelandic sagas term “fish teeth”: the queens, one hand pressed in alarm or woe to a cheek; the grim kings with braided hair, thrones elaborately detailed with Romanesque loops; the doughty, somewhat ludicrous knights; mitred bishops; and most of all the rooks, several biting their shields, unmistakably representations of Viking “berserks”, the warriors of the Norse god Odin.

Today we have put boxes up into the loft, or what my son-in-law calls, 'Spider City' due to the large dead spiders that occupy this space, the boxes went up mostly empty, but two were full, so we looked at the 'straw' box contents.  Here you will find the 'straw rain coats' or minos worn by Japanese farmers maybe, snow shoes and straw boots.  Strange that people wherever they are in the world always use the materials to hand, and apparently straw does work as the rain runs off the straight stalks.  I wonder if the 'Yeti' myth started from here!

The back


Very scratchy to wear I would have thought, the boots and snow shoes are just as strange.....

boots and a second straw coat

snow shoes


  1. I hope not to see the farmer in any straw garments any time soon.

    1. Spend most of your time vacuuming after him I should think, they are strange.

  2. How fascinating. Needless to say, such items would not survive in an archaeological context so wonderful that they have been rescued for posterity, even if they were still worn merely in living memory. Very practical to wear.

    1. Would you wear one Jennie? they are practical, though not sure about the boots. They are being kept for LS's son, unless of course the mice get to them first....