The Results Are In!

The answers to my previous quandary are in! The white details on the cloaks from the Codex Manesse illustrations I mentioned in this post are vair. Vair is the heraldic representation of patches of squirrel fur in an alternating pattern of blue and white.* So the lining and collars of the cloaks that are represented are the white bellies of squirrels with the black or blue fur from their backs. There is a possibility that it may have been a larger animal but I have no idea as to whether or not that would still qualify as vair or not.

Heraldic Ermine

I was prepared for the answer to be ermine but in retrospect I should have know that it was something quite different as the usual representation of ermine is three dots around a tail looking thing like what is seen to the right. I’ve seen a lot of that on shields and coats of arms but I suppose I didn’t really put two and two together on this one. Now many people have tried with varied success to replicate ermine and I have found the best and longest lasting method to also be the most labor intensive. I start with a chosen white faux fur and then sew in smaller pieces of a black fur. The process includes trimming the area where the black fur tip is to be sewn in and backing the tip with additional black fur. Hot glue won’t work for this so hand sewing is mandatory.

My question is now how do I recreate the look of vair. I don’t really like using permanent marker to color the fur since it can run and ruin the whole piece. With ermine I can add in little pieces of black fur but I’m not sure that I could do that with this. Does anyone have any suggestions?

*Vair. (2011, June 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11:16, June 21, 2011, from

Categories: Codex Manesse, Ermine, Vair | Leave a comment

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