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3 Mere Embroiderers? Women and Art in Early Medieval Ireland

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Chapter Summary

This chapter attempts to re-centre the textile art of early medieval Ireland, particularly embroidery, while at the same time acknowledging its place within the broader artistic context of manuscript, metalwork, and sculpture production. A number of seventh- and eighth-century law tracts and their later glosses can be shown to demonstrate the key role of women in cloth production more generally, and the importance of pattern and ornament in that production, whether created through weaving, embroidery, or appliqué. The interconnection between perceptions of female capability and feminine propriety is crucial to understanding women's relationship with art in early medieval Ireland.

Keywords: early medieval Ireland; embroiderers; feminine propriety; textile art



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