The Meshwork

Anthropologist Tim Ingold describes environments as meshworks where ideas and values are like threads floating through space.  The places where these threads get tangled are knots.

“These lines are bound together in the knot but they are not bound by it.  To the contrary, they trail beyond it, only to become caught up with other lines in other knots. Together they make up what I have called a meshwork.”  – Tim Ingold in Lines: A Brief History (2007).

In this site I have attempted to apply the concept of meshwork to the material culture of dress for high ranking European renaissance women.  Each term in the word cloud below is a conceptual thread that ran through the lives of these women.  By clicking on a thread you will then be able to see a number of objects or ‘knots’ where the thread has become entangled with other threads in a tangible form.  Above each image is listed the various threads that form it so that you can navigate around the site thematically, along the threads in the meshwork.


For upper class women in the European Renaissance, ‘getting dressed’ was a complex personal ritual that intertwined many of the social forces that guided women through life. The fully dressed Renaissance woman was an intricate assemblage of objects and ideas that she combined and crafted into her overall appearance.  Women held very little social or political power as separate from their husband and family.

“A woman’s clothing became her only way of independently declaring her or her family’s station in life and position of social power.” – Nancy Lamb Roider, To be Noble in Italy: Outward Displays of Grandeur as a Means of Class Identification

Top image: Eliza Stamps, Old Man in the Mountain

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