Accessories for Jihlava Burgher


In the winter of 2023 I got my hands on a rather nice commission for accessories for a Jihlava burgher from the first half of the 15th century. The brief was to create a scabbard for an existing dagger, a new girdle purse, shoes and a belt with metal fittings ideally according to the supplied picture from the Gelnhausen Codex, the details of which I should have worked out by myself. The new accessories are part of the reconstructed exposition in the Museum Vysočiny Jihlava.

Coincidentally, not long before that, I got my hands on a great new publication on clothing accessories from Elblag (Rybarczyk 2021), where they found exactly the same purse as that the townsman has in the manuscript (fig.154, NR KAT.: V.30). The source for the purse was therefore quite clear.

As for the dagger sheath, I based this on the fine decoration on the original from Dordrecht ( 9701.938.058, see also (Volken and Goubitz 2020)). Given its resulting intended position behind the purse, I did not make any metal fittings as they would not be visible anyway.

With the turnshoes made of vegetable tanned goatskin, however, the detail was already a bit more thorough. After a few attempts with this cutting pattern, and gradually lengthening the fashionable toe of the shoes, these were the longest I've done so far, and I definitely intend to repeat this for at least one pair for myself <3 The shoes were formed on a reconstruction of the shoemakers lasts from Chrudim, which I've been using for a while now. I've tried the pattern more than once, but with these I can safely say that they are indeed as they are drawn in the Einbeck find (Volken et al. 2020, p. 114, Abb. 97).

With the belt, the choice was more complicated. Considering the budget, but also the density of elements on the inspirational illumination, I wanted a lot of music for not so much money. Finaly I found an inspiration with a find from Budapest (Fingerlin 1971, 47). The original was made of silver and the overall width of the belt was larger (7,2cm compared to 4cm of our interpretation). Analogical finds from London (Egan and Pritchard 2013, or Elblag (Rybarczyk 2021, NR CAT. IV.9, IV.21) certainly allow for a different size of a similar type of mounts from the same period, just as they allow for the making of such a mounts from a yellow metal alloy. The type of mount was chosen for its relative simplicity and availability of design, and the size of the mount was adapted to the size of the buckle of current production for reenactment. I think the final effect is worth it, and despite my initial concerns about whether there were too many pieces, I hope the final effect was worth it :)

Then there is also a smaller item from our workshop. In Jihlava was found a well-preserved children's shoe. Because archaeological leather is rather hard to read in the showcases, the commission included the making of a replica according to the original (published e.g. in Hoch 2020,

After making the standard drawing according of the original and the paper model, I went on to make the children's last according to the medieval standards. The first version was based too much on the adult lasts and kept the exact dimensions of the original leather upper. After wrestling with the non-standard details and strange fitting solutions that came from the original drawing, it had to be concluded that the boot was the result of recycling an older boot and therefore the work of a cobbler and not a professional shoemaker. Aleš Hoch came to the same interpretation in his work. In the back line, however, by keeping the asymmetries of the original upper, the same fold was created, which copied the original very well.

Even though the product was very close to the original, I wanted to create a more accurate replica of what the shoe would have looked like new when it was made by a real shoemaker. This attempt required a new pair of miniature lasts and reworking the pattern to fit them (i.e. moving away from an exact copy based on the old upper while maintaining the pattern and rough dimensions of the original shoe). This second, already slightly modified version can also be seen in the Jihlava Museum :)