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    Saya Verdugado Kingdom A&S 2010

    Saya Verdugada


    Figure of Salome

    Detail from Banquet of Herod, Pedro Garcia Benabarre. ca. 1480.


    Reference Images

     Detail from Birth of the Virgin, Pedro Garcia Benabarre. ca. 1480.



    Figure of Salome

    Detail from The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, Hispano-Flemish School. ca. 1500.


    Figure of Reason or Truth

    Detail from Vision Delectable, Alfonso de la Torre. 1477.



    Figure of Grammar

    Detail from Vision Delectable, Alfonso de la Torre. 1477.


    Figure of Isabel I of Castile y Aragon
    Detail from Surrender of Moclín, Master Rodrigo. ca. 1490.


    Historical information


    According to "concrete gossip" recorded by Palencia (a contemporary historian), the verdugo was invented by Juana of Portugal in the 1460s or 70s to conceal the "aftermath of an indiscretion"(Anderson 208). It was adopted by the women of her court, and then by other noble women. In 1473, Isabel I was depicted wearing "a brial of crimson velvet bearing hoops covered with green cebti (silk). . . cloth-of-gold hoops stiffened another brial of hers" (Anderson 208).

    Ruth Anderson discusses skirt and gowns with hoops in her Hispanic Costume 1480-1530. Anderson refers to brial (full, unfitted dresses), or saya (dresses with a fitted bodice and full skirt attached at waistline) with hoops (verdugos) of twigs or willow withies inserted into strips of cloth or trim on the exterior of the skirt. These skirts were intended to be seen, as in the images above; later, they evolved into an undergarment that was initially seen but later became purely a foundation garment (207).

    Another contemporary historian, Talavera, describes the skirt arrangement in detail. "[Talavera] speaks of woolen cloth being packed about the hips, which were thus overheated, while below, about the legs, the hoops stood out, making a hollow space that admitted winter cold" (qtd. in Anderson 208).

    Recorded fabrics used for saya verdugadas (Anderson 208-9):

    1. Cebti (silk), verdugos in crimson, green, white, brown, orange, blue, or silvered silk  
    2. Velvet verdugos on cebti, brocaded satin, cloth of silver 
    3. White damask or satin verdugos on crimson or green velvet, mulberry velvet, mulberry brocade, and crimson brocaded velvet 
    4.  Same colored taffeta verdugos on taffeta skirt 
    5. Same-coloured velvet verdugos on satin or damask 
    6. Blue velvet verdugos on blue damask half-hooped skirt (media verdugada) 
    7. Brown velvet verdugos on brown satin media verdugada



    Construction Notes


    I chose to model my gown on the cover image, The Banquet of Herod by Pedro Garcia Benabarre. This gown features several characteristics of classic Hispano-Flemish style: the low round neckline, fitted bodice, waist seam, split-and-tied sleeves, and a skirt with exterior hoops. The large constructive seams were done on the sewing machine, while finer details and finishing work was sewn by hand.

    For the fabric, I chose a cotton damask brocade rather than the more period-correct silk brocade or taffeta. Although the fabric content is not strictly correct, there is evidence of the use of cotton in upper-class clothing in Spain by the early 13th century (Anderson). I picked a fabric with a large, organic brocade pattern similar to those seen in the Benabarre and Hispano-Flemish School images of Salome. The fabric itself is a gold-on-color pattern; the Spanish seem to be particularly fond of gold mixed with any other color.

    For the hoop casings, I decided to use rayon velvet ribbon rather than strips of velvet fabric cut on the bias or the straight. While rayon velvet ribbon is not generally cheaper than silk velvet fabric, the tightly woven structure of ribbon makes it less aggravating to work with and less prone to tearing. Despite this, there is a noticeable patch at the rear seam where the ribbon shredded during hoop insertion and had to be mended.

    The bodice of the gown was drafted to my own measurements and then draped to fit, first on a dressmaker’s dummy and then on my own body. It is lined with medium weight black linen and sewn with black silk thread.

    The sleeves were created from a standard two-piece sleeve pattern I usually use for kirtles. I stitched down the inside seam, and then finished the outer seam so that the seam lies open along the back of the arm. The sleeve ties into the armscye through eyelets, and the open seam fastens with five ties on each side, allowing the shift sleeve to drape through the openings.

    The skirt is a simple angled tube of two full widths of fabric plus side gores. It is pleated into the bodice at the natural waist, and five hoop casings are applied to the exterior of the skirt. The back seam has not been finished to allow for future adjustments of the shape—I feel that the current shape is slightly too wide at the top to create exactly the proper shape, and I plan to remove a wedge of fabric from the first hoop to the waist to create more of a cone shape. The skirt is hemmed even with the bottom-most hoop, as shown in the reference images.

    The citation from Talavera regarding the wool material “packed about the hips” (qtd. in Anderson 208) can be interpreted as padded pleats or some sort of foundation item that is stuffed with wool, creating the unusual “puffy” silhouette at the top of the skirts in images. I attempted padded pleats, but did not achieve the rounded fullness seen in the images; it is therefore my theory that a stuffed roll of some sort was tied about the body under the skirts. This may have been stuffed with wool fluff or scraps of wool fabric, as in Talavera’s account of these underpinnings. I believe that a large bumroll like those found in later English fashions may give the same shape. For display, the dressmaker’s dummy has been padded with a roll of heavy cotton quilt padding to approximate the look of a stuffed roll.



    photograph by Jen Thies


    Works Cited


    Anderson, Ruth M. Hispanic Costume, 1480-1530. New York: Hispanic Society of America, 1979. Print.

    Benabarre, Pedro García. Birth of the Virgin. c. 1480. Ainsa Parish Church, Spain.

    Hispano-Flemish School. The Beheading of St. John the Baptist. c. 1500. Museo del Prado, Spain.

    Master Rodrigo. Surrender of Moclín. c. 1475. Toledo Cathedral, Spain.

    Palencia, Alfonso Fernández de. Uniuersal vocabulario en latin y en Romance. 1490. Apud Hispalim.

    Talavera. Tractado pvechoso q demuestra como en’l uestir y calçar comÅ©mete se comete muchos peccados.1477.  Monastery of El Escorial, Spain. 

    Torre, Alfonso de la. Vision Delectable. 1477. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.



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