s Funeral Doublet

The following is a guest piece by Andrea Carloni from the group Compagnia del Leone, Italy. To our knowledge, this is the first English article covering this exceptional garment.

The doublet was discovered in 1995, during the exploration of Pandolfo III Malatesta’s (1370-1427) sarcophagus, situated in St. Francis Church in Fano (PU).
It soon became a matter of fact that the burial place had been violated and spoiled in ancient times, as it showed deprived of many garments and possibly precious objects; Malatesta’s mummy lied in it, wrapped up in a shroud and wearing only the doublet, by all means the most important item of textile of the whole finding.

The conservative treatment of Pandolfo III’s doublet, performed in 1999 and 2000, is the result of an intensive teamwork established in cooperation with Dr. Rosaria Vallazzi (“Department of Historical and Artistic Heritage of Marche Region”, Urbino) and some technicians working for “Arakhne Lab”, directed by Claudia Kusch.

The front part of the doublet (photo courtesy of Villaggio Medievale)

Fatally messed up during divestment as all its seams were removed, the doublet reached the lab split in six parts: two front portions, two rear ones and a pair of sleeves.
It has large and bulging sleeves at shoulder level, which are tight-fitting at wrists, the latter fastened up by ten little wooden buttons covered with crimson velvet; the buttons are just alike the ones on the right edge of the front fastening. 
The padding of the doublet, composed of waste animal and vegetable fibers (i.e. silk, wool, hemp, linen and cotton) is retained between two linen cloths; sleeves, neck and fold are embellished by a very close decorative stitching.
The doublet is defective in some parts: its right sleeve is lacking for the vambrace, the left one has got a cut off wristband, while some portions of the front are missing. On the other hand, the rear parts are in desperate conditions: the right quarter is fragmentary, its collar is detached and velvet is liquid-soaked, faded and warped; the left quarter, which had been discovered folded in two, its rather the same than the right one, apart from the collar, that is just partially detached in this case.
Here follow the most significant details.

Front Part
Front is larger than rear and has got its central portion shaped round the neck and the abdomen, such as the side under the armpits, while hips are straight from the waist down.
Just at the armhole terminal points, you can find gussets which are few centimeters large, all the way down to the waistline. The breast is very narrow with a very deep and wide sleeve hole. 
The collar is slightly funnel-shaped, rather tight and strengthened by stitchings.
Buttons are placed just along the edge of the right panel, corresponding to eyelets on the left one, located at 1 cm from the edge.


The rear part of the doublet (photo courtesy of Villaggio Medievale)

Rear Part
It is cut far straighter than the front one, with a central seam, slightly shaped at the waistline. 
The portions beneath the armpits are just a bit larger than the hips; compared with sleeve holes (that is the back) they are very narrow. The portions beneath armpits are very deep, just the same as the front ones, and they form huge armholes.

They are composed of two pieces: the upper and larger part is gathered up just over the elbow, while the lower and narrow part is a sort of wristband encompassing the elbow.
The buttons are pinned on the lower side of the sewn waistband. The upper round portion is high, in order to encompass part of the arm and the shoulder.
The upper and lower sections of the sleeve were cut off a single cloth and joined by means of a rear seam. The overall profile of the sleeve shows a deep “cavity” matching with the front, while in the part matching with the rear the cloth is larger.

The chemical surveys accomplished by Amsterdam Institute of Cultural Heritage have revealed that the red colour of the fabric is due to the presence of Cocciniglia Armena and Lacca; the use of these dyes is actually odd for the age involved, as Kermes was usually preferred to Cocciniglia Armena, while Lacca was a dye originally present in India or Persia, therefore scarcely available.
It was not possible to determine whether the fabrics were brought to Italy already dyed or they had been treated “in situ”.
The work made by assembling the velvet fragments found in the sarcophagus allowed to partially determine the ancient design: we are talking of a diapered velvet, made with woolen fibers, whose motif is called “a cammino”. 

The outer fabric of the doublet is a silk long-haired velvet, cut off to form a striped design.
The inner side is lined with row hemp. It seems that all parts have been singly made and round off and then put together to form the garment; the tailor used a backstitch and oversewn  using a hemp thread, leaving a tiny inner hem. 
The two side parts below the armpits show an exceeding hem of about 2,5 cm, probably meant for future extensions. The only fragment allowing to identify the specific kind of seam joining the parts is visible inside the front right shoulder.

Padding and Stitching
The collar and the elbow part down to the wristband are stitched by means of close horizontal lines, while the upper side of the doublet and the sleeves are padded with cotton and silk.
All padded parts are quilted upon a “sunburst pattern”, so to keep padding in place.
The whole doublet is padded using a row but thin linen thread.
Stitching was performed by a regular backstitch, using red or golden-yellow thread, keeping all layers in place. Cotton threads were inserted between a stitch and another, possibly to strengthen the wristband cloth.

Buttons and Eyelets
As said above, buttons possibly conceal a wooden core. They are stitched on their top, sewed up with a cotton or hemp thread and pinned to the outer edge of the garment.
Eyelets were carefully eye-stitched and scallop-stitched and located at about 1 cm from the outer edge.

Bibliographical references

  • AA.VV., Il potere le arti la guerra. Lo splendore dei Malatesta, Electa, Milano, 2001, p. 220-221;
  • C. KUSCH, P. MIGNANI, R. POZZI (edited by), Redire 1427-2009. Ritorno alla luce. Il restauro del farsetto di Pandolfo III Malatesti, "I Quaderni del Museo", n. 02/2009, Rivista del Museo Civico di Fano, Sat, Pesaro, 2009. 

By Andrea Carloni, Guest Author.

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