I am slowly working on a catalog of nalbound items, but in the meantime wanted to let you know about one that is currently on display! My friend, Libby Cripps, visited Trier today and sent back pictures of St. Simeon’s nalbound hat.
St. Simeon was born in Sicily, but went to school in Constantinople. He then went to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and eventually Mt. Sinai in Egypt before living as a hermit near the Red Sea for a while. In 1026 CE he was sent to Rouen, France and after much roundabout travels ended up in Trier. He made one last pilgrimage to Jerusalem leaving in 1028 CE, but upon his return in 1030 CE he was enclosed in the Porto Negra (Black Gate) in Trier and lived as a recluse there until his death in 1035 CE.
Trier is located in Southwestern Germany near the border with Luxembourg and France. This hat is sometimes used as evidence of Viking Era nalbinding, but given St. Simeon’s life history and the fact that nalbinding of a similar structure has been found in Greece and in several objects in Egypt, that is a likely provenance. St. Simeon was in France/Germany for only two years of his life before he was enclosed shortly after returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
The hat is currently in the Treasury of the Trier Cathedral. Visiting information can be found at: https://www.trier-info.de/en/museums/cathedral-treasury
For additional photographs from Libby’s trip to Trier, you can take a look at her Facebook page:
For a view of the entire hat: https://www.trierer-original.de/Uns-Trier/spektakulaere-Bauwerke/Porta-Nigra-51622.html Scroll down just under half the page to figure 4.2. Click on it for a larger/higher resolution photograph of the St. Simeon’s hat.
I’ll be pulling together more information regarding the cap in the future, but wanted to share these lovely photographs that Libby so kindly let me use.
4 thoughts on “St. Simeon’s hat”
May I please draw attention to the bottom edge of this charming little hat? It is trimmed with a brocaded tablet-woven band. It seems odd to me that someone would put an unstretchable edge on a stretchable fabric, but then, it is silk and gold which does rather enhance the object’s value; it seems quite probable that the band was added later so that such a simple item would appear more appropriate for a saint. There is an example from the 13th-century grave of Archbishop Rodrigo Ximenez de Rada in Spain of a knitted glove with a brocaded tablet-woven band on the bottom edge of the cuff. The bands on both items may have been added for show, as it were, rather than having been actually functional.
Libby noted that it seems to be the same tablet woven band as is on the protective cap cover that was made for it 300 years later.
It’s also possible that they didn’t necessarily think of elasticity as an inherent quality of nalbound fabric. Depending on how it’s worked, even a stitch like this can be very stiff and inelastic. So, it’s not necessarily contradictory to have an inelastic band on a nalbound hat, where elasticity is not always needed.
Thank you so much for sharing these great photos, and many thanks to Libby for agreeing to share them.