There is a rather wonderful book that was written and illuminated between 1300 and 1340 (the approximate date of completion) called the Codex Manesse or the Große Heidelberger Liederhandschrift in German. It was produced in Germany and It is the single most comprehensive source for the texts of love songs in Middle High German. Besides representing over forty poets it has a number of beautiful drawings that depict fashion, life and people of the 1300’s. I have taken to studying something that I have found rather interesting in a few images and I am trying to decipher whether or not what was drawn is supposed to represent ermine or not. There’s one image that I would like to produce which has brought me to this but that can wait until later.
The fist image I found was this one to the right. (A larger image can be found here.) The Minnesänger or poet depicted on this miniature could be Wilhelm von Gliers The Minnesänger explained on this miniature could be Wilhelm von Gliers who is said to have lived from 1267 to 1317 and was the son-in-law to Walthers von Klingen. The part I am interested in is the white and black that decorates the cape.
For all intents and purposes it looks like a great cloak of sorts with a definite collar of this white decorative material. It looks as though the whole cloak is lined in the stuff and so I can only assume that it is some kind of fur. I asked my husband, a historian, and he said that it may have been stoat fur while I thought perhaps ermine. Fortunately it was not the only example of this possible fur.
The second example to the left with both a female and male model wearing the same kind of decorated cloak. While the woman’s version is much simpler, the men’s version is pretty much exactly the same as the one above and both are clasped over the right shoulder. I think that the cloak itself looks very full and could possibly be a full circle cloak. I’m looking for any input that you may have as to what it may be. Stoat or ermine or or something else entirely?