Monday, March 26, 2012

Question from Laura - White cloth in Henry VIII portraits

When looking at paintings of Henry VIII his costumes are clearly elaborate and beautifully made yet quite often he has a piece of random white cloth tied round his waste like a bandage with a knot. What is this? It just seems so out of place!


  1. Hi Laura
    The cloth is used as a belt which is holding his sward on his left hand side, in other portraits the material colours vary. If you look at his later portraits he stops wearing this belt and sward and instead holds a cane and there is nothing around his middle

  2. The girdle is actually made from lightweight silk, called sarsenet.

    According to Maria Hayward (Dress at the Court of Henry VIII), such lengths of sarsenet were supplied just for this purpose. Lengths of wide silk ribbon or cord were also used for the making of girdles.


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