The Curious Frau

Early Modern German Clothing

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Bags and Purses in 16th century Germany

tasche_1Tasche or Beutel are the German words for bag or purse, and when looking at artwork from 16th c Germany there are lots of purses to be seen on men, women and children. Small ones, big ones, hanging low from belts, others securely fastened to the belt.

The problem with looking at purses in artwork is that it is often difficult to determine how exactly they were made, sometimes you need to see the genuine article. Hence, here is a collection of images and links that I have collected of extant purses and bags in the German National Museum from 16th century Germany to assist you (and me!) in understanding these very useful accessories.

Clicking on the small picture or large picture link will take you to the image in Bildindex. The large picture is LARGE, and will fill up the screen, but it gives you a good close-up view.

 

Leather bag with three smaller pouches on front

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Leather bag with Iron hangers. GNM T 189

Look through art books and this is the stereotypical German bag style. Body of the bag gathered with drawstrings at the top, with three little drawstring pouches on the front. I find it interesting that the little pouches do not lie flat against the main body of the purse, they angle out a bit. Also the whip stitches used to sew the purse together are done in a contrasting thread. The main body also seems to have a decoration of lines and some gratuitous stitching on it, all of which adds a nice little touch.
Leather bag with metal purse frame

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Leather bag with metal purse frame GNM T 3151

A nice little leather bag with cute lion faces on the purse frame. This purse appears to have two sections, a main section and a side section. The main section is reached by opening the purse frame, the side pouch is reached by undoing the button on the flap. The side section also appears to be closed by a drawstring.

Leather bag with silk borders

Before restoration

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Leather bag with silk borders GNM 3682

Interesting leather purse that has the body made up of many segments and several smaller pouches on the sides. The seams have been sewn and then silk braid, of undermined manufacturing technique (fingerloop braid? tabletweaving?), has been applied over the top.

After restoration

Front of purse

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Bottom of purse

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Belt pouch with iron purse frame

From the front

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Purse as it looks when open

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Belt pouch (Gurteltaschen), Leather with iron purse frame GNM T 4219

The caption on this purse says that wearing it was a sign of belonging to the Patrician class.

 

 


Originally written 2004