A bibliography of textual sources for Birka and
metal trimmings, especially Posaments
(slowly becoming an annotated bibliography)
Format of entries:
- Bibliographical entry
- Summary of text
- Comments on text
- Link to publication, where available
- Arrhenius, Birgit. “Ett Tråddragningsinstrument Från Birka.” Fornvännen, 1968, 288-93.
- Swedish text, English summary.
- Report of a small iron drawplate from Birka. Item Nr 5308: 445. 9.8 cm long with seven conical holes. It appears capable of drawing wire of a diameter of 1-2mm in the largest holes of 0.1-0.15mm (or possibly less) diameter in the smallest holes. Drawplate made of at least seven layers of iron with inserts in the holes to help regulate the diameter of the wire.
- “Birka Och Hovgården.” Swedish National Heritage Board. August 4, 2014. Accessed January 28, 2016.
- Swedish text.
- Basic background information about the settlements at Birka and Hovgården, the royal residence across the bay from Birka.
- Brorsson, Torbjörn. “In the Workshop of the Viking Age Goldsmith : Gold- and Silverwork at Borgeby in Scania, Southern Sweden.” 1998, 225-39.
- English text, Swedish summary.
- Evidence for an 11th century goldsmith’s workshop. Only silver wire is probably for soldering. Gold, silver, and copper remains found.
- Not directly related to posament work, but the article describes some of the tools and techniques available to the Norse jeweler.
- Cyrus-Zetterström, Ulla. “A Monochrome Patterned Silk Fabric among the Finds from Birka.” In Opera Textilia Variorum Temporum, edited by Inger Estham and Margareta Nockert, 45-48. Stockholm, Sweden: Statens Historiska Museum, 1988.
- Article in English. Other articles in the book in various languages.
- Discussion of the silk fabric from Birka grave 944 that has a small portion of posament attached to it. The weave is both a twill and a tabby forming a “selfpatterned” weave. The silk is probably Chinese and had some traces of gold paint that might have been printed onto the fabric. The fabric is fine – 54/46 threads per cm. (See also Geijer, Acta Archaeologica Vol 50 – 1979, p. 213). Chinese term for this sort of single-colored patterned silk is “qi.” Author proposes “monochrome silk with a twill pattern on a tabby background.” Weaving drafts for the silk is worked out and included.
- The article has little to do with posaments except that the silver salts from the posament remaining on the seam probably helped preserve the silk fragments. This article is included since it is an interesting patterned silk with a clear association to a posament. I have sent this article to Sartor with the request that the silk be reproduced.
- Geijer, Agnes. Birka III : Die Textilfunde Aus Den Gräbern. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1938. (Online edition available here) THIS ENTRY IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION
- German text.
- The seminal work on the topic of posaments. Chapters cover all of the textile finds from Birka. Each of the 27 types of posament are described and many of them are pictured.
- Some of her assertions and theories are difficult to prove experimentally, others work well. Better annotation needed when time allows.
- Geijer, Agnes. “The Textile Finds from Birka: Birka III, Die Texilfunde Aus Den Gräbern.” Acta Archaeologica 50 (1980): 209-22. THIS ENTRY IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION
- English text.
- An update on Birka III.
- Sadly, of the 13 pages of the article, less than 2 full pages are devoted to the posaments. Little new information is provided except for the allowance that there is a chance that the posaments were a domestically produced item.
- Geijer, Agnes, and Holger Arbman. “En Detalj I Den Gotländska Mansdräkten under Vikingatiden.” Fornvännen, 1940, 145-54.
- Swedish text, English summary.
- A report of a Gotlandic man’s belt and other accessories. The belt has several bronze spirals (similar to the ones seen in Finnish dress) wound round thin strips of leather to create a tassel-type structure. There is also an embroidery of very fine silver wire (Figure 3), similar to Birka St 15 which was found near a circular (box?) brooch. Other Gotlandic grave finds are compared and contrasted, include a purse frame, a comb, animal-headed brooches, penannular brooches, pins, chains, and a key. At least some of the finds are from a mixed-gender grave
- No specific posaments, but spirals similar to those seen on the belt have also been found in conjunction with posaments. The silver edge “embroidery” is something to investigate further.
- Hallström, Gustaf. Birka I. Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie Och Antikvitets Akademien, 1913.
- German text, but many images in the Tafeln volume
- The report of the Birka finds, including metal, pottery, and glass materials.
- Very little information on the posaments, since they are largely covered in Birka III, but some interesting and relevant images.
- Text: http://historiska.se/birka/digitala-resurser/filer/pdf/Birka_I_Text.pdf
- Tafeln (Plates): http://historiska.se/birka/digitala-resurser/filer/pdf/Birka_I_Tafeln.pdf
- Hedenstierna-Jonson, Charolette. “Borre Style Metalwork in the Material Culture of the Birka Warriors : An Apotropaic Symbol.” Fornvännen 101, no. 5 (2006): 312-22.
- English text
- A discussion of Borre style metal decotations, which ccur on many items, but not generally on offensice weapons, leading to the suggestions that they may have had a protective role. The knotwork in the Borre style includes pretzel knots and other knotwork similar to that seen in the posaments. Links to Oriental styles of dress and possible military insignia are discussed. Posament knots are compared side-by-side with metalwork.
- The Borre knotwork is an interesting parallel to the posaments – many of the same knots appear and the twinned ribbon appearance of the metalwork closely follows the doubled working lines seen in most posaments. The Borre metalwork could also be a source of information about plausible uses for the posaments and additional posament knots. The citations regarding similar Byzantine and Russian finds should be further investigated and possibly added to this bibliography (Stephens Craw ford 1990; SchulzeDörrlamm 2002, Jansson 1988; Shepard 1995; Hedea – ger Krag 2004).
- Hägg, Inga. “Birkas Orientaliska Praktplagg.” Fornvännen 78 (1983): 204-23.
- Swedish text, German summary, English abstract. Captions in Swedish and German.
- Discusses the Oriental-style caftans that were decorated with posaments. Silk girdles with metal (inlcluding posament) terminals could be used to close the caftans. Microscopic examination of the posament wires does not show a difference in their coarseness, in contract to Geijer’s statements (1980). Similar Byzantine works appear to be of lan-type silver and gold threads, not the drawn work of the Birka posaments (Stegemann 1901; Schmedding 1978). Mentions Swiss relic pouches with posament-type materials made of silk rather than gold or silver (p 212). Image of knots from Sitten, Switzerland, Figure 2, page 213. Specific knots may have been related to specific ranks (P 18-20, P 24, St 29 and St 30) (p 213, see Boucher, F. 1967. A History of Coslume in lhe West (Histoire
du coslume en Occident de fantiquitc ä nos jours) London.). Birka graves 464, 735 and 832 have small silk pouches (and 464 a “needlecase”) that may have been reliquaries – also consider the pouches with metal deer embroideries. Seven men’s graves with a A-type (cone-shaped) headdress (four also included gamespieces), one men’s grave with a B-type (rounded) headdress and a game b0ard (886), and one with an indeterminite type headdress and a gameboard (750). Two graves have board games but no headdress.
- Long article, should get properly translated at some point. Possibly review for Oriental source of posament work – Arne, T. J. 1914. La Suéde et 1’Orient. Archives d’Etudes Orientales, Vol. 8. Uppsala. Need to review for Swiss silk materials: Schmedding, B. 1978. Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen und Klöslem der Schweiz- Schriften dc-r Abegg-Stiftung. III. Bern. (Unrelated to posaments, also mentions fur trimmings – marten, beaver and “ekorrpäls.” (p 208)).
- Hägg, Inga, and Ingmar Jansson. Kvinnodräkten I Birka: Livplaggens Rekonstruktion På Grundval Av Det Arkeologiska Materialet. Uppsala: Uppsala University, Institute of North European Archaeology, 1974. THIS ENTRY IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION
- Swedish text.
- Needs summary
- Needs to be reviewed
- Hägg, Inga. “Mantel Och Kjortel I Vikingatidens Dräkt.” Fornvännen 66 (1971): 141-53.
- Swedish text, German summary.
- “Mantel and Gown in Viking Period Costume.” Brooches and trim and their similarities to Oriental and Eastern European costume. Specifically calls out that posaments and tablet weaving was used on women’s graves as well as men’s (p 150). Compares posaments to a costume from Estonia (Figure 16).
- Not a lot of information directly about the posaments, other than their comparison to the Estonian example. Several nice pictures of tablet woven bands and posaments (Figure 17). (Unrelated to posaments – interesting example of coat with front “bars” done in leather. Figure 12.)
- Hägg, Inga. “Die Tracht.” Birka II 2 (1986): 51-72. THIS ENTRY IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
- German text
- Discussion of the clothing at Birka, including explanations for the differing survival of textiles in men’s and women’s graves.Table 1 and Figure 1 show distribution of various textiles in the graves, including the posaments. Discusses the placement of posament bands (around the head, ) and lists posaments that are identified on grave plans (750, 707, 823, 845, 946, and 967). Specifically calls out graves 823 and 845 as graves where a headband is attached to remnants of silk. Other posaments on silk: 660, 838, 943. Still need to translate page 67-end, starting with 5. Männertracht
- Suggests 946 has a posament on a cap as well as posament associated with a wool base (same garment? unclear – I need to check grave plans). (Unrelated to posaments: Figure 3 shows the cord near the top of an apron dress. The text discusses women’s coats.)
- Larsson, Annika. Klädd Krigare: Skifte I Skandinaviskt Dräktskick Kring År 1000. PhD diss., Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet, 2007.
- Swedish text, very limited English summary.
- Dissertation published by Uppsala University. Summary of knowledge thus far, including a review of Geijer’s work. Reiterates that the posaments could be used on headdresses (particularly the gold pieces) and on bags and other accessories. She reports that about half of the silver or gold posaments are used as a “diadem” or other head decoration (includes at least P1, P2, P4, P10, P12, and P21). Posaments on silk reported in eight graves (per Geijer – includes graves 710, 619). She proposes four uses for the posaments – diadems, sliding knots on purses and other drawstrings, decorations on leather or fabric belts (couched wire similar to the Sami style) and as a finishing material (cuffs and seams). Posaments are often found in male graves and equestrian graves, but are one quarter of the posaments graves are female. Coins associated with posament graves are almost 3/4 from the Arab Caliphate. She includes a list of known posaments:
- Valsgårde, boatgrave 12 – cuff decoration and possible posament work similar to the Birka posaments, if on a larger scale – a silver wire of about 0.2mm spun around a yellow z-spun yarn.
- Ladby ship grave (Denmark) – slip knots and braid
- Vagnsnes (Bergen Museum) – gold four plait braid
- Väskinde, Gotland – silver spiral around the head – wire diameter 0.05mm wide, overall spiral diameter 0.2mm. Also some stickerei work.
- Ihregravfältet, Gotland – 3 male graves with posaments – grave 84 (3 small sliding knots), grave 108 (3 knots plus additional wirework of unclear character), and grave 112 (P1, P2, & P3)
- Hedeby – slip knot, possibly two – spiral silver – diameter = 0.2mm. Spiral wire also on an awl’s handle, a knife’s handle, and a stone.
- Mammen – possible posament, but questionable
- Ormknös, Björkö – spiral silver slip knots and silver drawn wire frming “loop braids” like in the Valsgårde cuffs.
- Birka – at least 45 graves
- Excellent summary of the material, but I am inclined to be cautious about her interpretations. (This is the Annika Larsson of the “sexy Viking” interpretation that was widely discussed a few years ago.) Her suggestion that most of the posments were associated with accessories that may not have been on the deceased’s body at the time of burial (on pouches, bags, or on other items stored in bundles or chests) seems to be sound. While there are finds of loose posament wire, I will need to examine Stolpe’s grave plans more closely to see if there is any merit to her suggestion that some of the posament wire was used in a couched manner similar to the Sami embroidery. Her list of posaments and probable posaments is incomplete.
- Lundgren, Mats. “Två Typer Av Silverband Från En Ryttargrav På Gotland.” Fornvännen, 1975, 144-46.
- Swedish text, English summary. Swedish and English captions.
- Report of the equestrian grave at Västkinde, Gotland. Posament work on the head and some stickerei work on the shoulder is discussed. The metalwork on the skull was a ~0.05 silver wire around a thin core to form a spiral of about 0.2mm wide. It was “diagonally plaited”to a width of about 6.7mm and a length of 1.2 meters and was attached to some sort of headwear. 250m of the 0.05mm wire would have been needed to make this braid.
- The stickerei technique is discussed and illustrated in Birka III, but the braid is not and the image/description in this article is frustratingly unclear. (My translation, from page 146: “If you follow a strand from one edge, it is used first as a “weft thread” until it gets to the center. There it changes function and is used as a “warp” until it reaches the second edge where it is added back in as “weft”.) The Nylén article has a clearer image of the braid and clarifies some of the construction. The most impressive thing about this find, I think, is the sheer length of the amazingly fine wire that would have been needed to produce this piece.
- Nylén, Erik. “Documentation and Preservation : Technical Development in Swedish Archaeology.” Fornvännen, 1975, 213-23.
- English text, Swedish summary. English and Swedish captions.
- This article is devoted to the 1970’s state-of-the-art documentation and preservation techniques using X-ray.
- This article is included explicitly for Figure 6, which provides a much more clear picture of the “diagonal braid” from the Västkinde, Gotland equestrian grave.
- Østergård, E. “Textilfragmenterne fra Mammengraven.” Mammen. Grav, kunst og samfund i vikingetid. Jysk Arkæologisk Selskab, Højbjerg (1991): 123-138.
- Swedish text, English Summary. English and Swedish captions.
- Discusses the textiles of the Mammen find, including weaves, colors, and the metal fibers used in the textiles. Page 137, figures 18b and 18c shows the difference between the flattened metal wire around a fiber core (lan, 18b) or the drawn metal wire wound around a fiber core (18c). Includes close up images of the lan used to construct the naalbinding in the cloak ribbons and strips of gold and silk in the tablet weaving on the armbands (p. 132-133) .
- Pictures of lan from Mammen textiles are shown, but no pictures of the circular cross section spiral wire. (Not related to posaments, but this chapter also has fine color photographs of the raised fishbone stitch on the cushion (p. 136). A diagonally-braided woolen band (p. 131, figure 12, textile C136c) is remarkably similar to the band illustrated in Nylén 1975.
- Ohlsson, Ralf. “Hågaspännet : Tillverkning Nu Och För 3000 år Sedan.” Fornvännen, 1989, 207-15.
- Report on the effort required to reproduce a Bronze Age brooch from Haga, Uppland. Many interesting techniques and approximately 180 man-hours were used to produce the copy.
- This article is included because of the border of the brooch, which is a wire-wrapped in a way that seems similar in form to the later posament work. The scale is much larger (wire is drawn to a less than 1mm diameter flattened circle) and the application quite different, but interesting to consider.
- Söderberg, Anders. “A Viking Period Silver Workshop in Fröjel, Gotland : Korta Meddelanden.” Fornvännen 101, no. 1 (2006): 29-31.
- English text.
- A discussion of some of the metal-working technology found in this Gotlandic workshop. One of the furnaces has been carbon-dated to 970–1160 AD. Specifically, evidence for mercury-gilding and lead purification of silver alloys is presented.
- This article does not directly address posaments, rather provides some information about the metalworking techniques available to produce the fine silver used in the posament wires. It is likely that much of the silver used in Norse contexts was recycled and so a method of purifying it would have been important.
Need to obtain, translate, and/or review:
Have but need to translate and review:
Hägg, I. “Rangsymboliska element i vikingatida gravar.” Mammen. Grav, kunst og samfund I vikingetid. Jysk Arkæologisk Selskabs Skrifter XXVIII. Århus (1991): 155-162. (check p 158)
Gräslund, ANNE-SOFIE. “Beutel und Taschen.” Birka II 1 (1984): 141-154.
Need to acquire from campus:
Stenberger, Mårten. Das Gräberfeld bei Ihre im Kirchspiel Hellvi auf Gotland: der Wikingerzeitliche Abschnitt. 1962. (have, in German, check below before translating)
Stenberger, M. “The Burial Ground Near Ihrein the Parish of Hellvi on Gotland.” Acta Archaeologica 32 (1961): 1.
Geijer, A 1972. Ur texlilkonslem historia. Lund.
Reprinted as A history of textile art : a selective account, 1982
Geijer, Agnes. “The textile finds from Birka.” Acta archeologica 50, no. 14 (1980): 209-222.
Arne, T. J. 1914. La Suéde et 1’Orient. Archives d’Etudes Orientales, Vol. 8. Uppsala.
Boucher, F. 1967. A History of Costume in the West (Histoire du coslume en Occident de fantiquitc ä nos jours) London.
Stegmann, H. 1901. Katalog der Gewebesammlung des Germanischen Nationalmuseums. 11. Stickereien, Spitzen und Posamentierarbeilen. Nurnberg.
Need source of these publications:
Bollók, Á., M. Knotik, P. Langó, K. Nagy, and A. Türk. “Textile remnants in the archaeological heritage of the Carpathian Basin from the 10 th–11 th centuries.” Acta Archaeologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 60, no. 1 (2009): 147-221.
Dunfjeld, Maja. Tjaalehtjimmie: form og innhold i sørsamisk ornamentikk. Institutt for konsthistorie, Univ., 2006. (high priority) (Dunfjeld, Maja 1995 Tjaalehtjimmie. Form og innhold I sörsamisk ornamentikk. Saemien Sijte, Snåsa – “Applied decoration: southern Lapp ornamentation as communication and aesthetic expression” AATA Number: 30-2973
Volume Number: 6 Issue Number: 1 Date of Publication: 1991 Page Numbers: 26-29 ISSN: 0801-5376 (Spor) Abstract: Discusses the geometric, stylistic ornamentation characteristic of the southern Lapps. Implements, tools, and clothing made of skin, wood, horn, and bone are decorated with this symbolic ornamentation. BCIN Number: 132390)
Hägg, Inga.”Härskarsymbolik i Birkadräkten” in Dragt Og Magt. by Anne Hedeager Krag. København Museum Tusculanums Forlag, Københavns Universitet, 2003. (page 18 especially)
Lindblom, Cecilia. “I döden klädd.” Analys av textil och läder från båtgrav12 i Valsgärde. CD-uppsats Arkeologsika forskningsinstitutet Stockholms universitet (2000). (see 20ff) (Lindblom, Cecilia. 2000. I döden klädd. Analys av textil och läderfragment från båtgrav 12, Valsgärde, Gamla Uppsala sn, Uppland. Dressed in death. An analysis of textile and leather fragments from boat-grave no. 12, Valsgärde, Gamla Uppsala parish, Uppland. STASC. 45 pp.)
Maixner, Birgit. “Die Tierstilverzierten Metall – Arbeiten Der Wikingerzeit Aus Birka Unter Besonderer Berücksichtigung Des Borrestils.” In Zwischen Tier Und Kreuz. Untersuchungen Zur Wikingerzeitlichen Ornamentik Im Ostseeraum., by Michael Müller-Wille and Birgit Maixner. Mainz, 2004.
Schmedding, B. 1978. Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen und Klöslem der Schweiz- Schriften dc-r Abegg-Stiftung. III. Bern
Schönbäck 1949: 6, Valsgårde 12 grave report – appears to be unpublished – ATA dnr. 2480/1949 (from KK)