databas cerddi guto'r glyn


Velvet is a complex material to weave and was therefore very expensive in the fifteenth century. It is much firmer and harder than silk. It was a relatively new fabric to literature; unlike the case of silk, there is no mention of velvet in the Poetry of the Princes or in the native prose tales.

It is not surprising that velvet is often associated with the nobility and gentry by the poets. It was possible to produce brightly coloured clothes in velvet, and because of its hard quality it was the perfect material to make the fashionable stiff doublet and tight jerkins of this period (see Clothes). Velvet as well as silk formed part of the purse Guto received from Catrin of Abertanad; it is described as gem aelfain o’r melfed ‘ … a treasure made from the velvet material’ (poem 87.70).

Guto refers specifically to black velvet and silk:

Y melfed (pwy nis credai?), 
Muchudd du fydd a di-fai; 
Sidan a phupr, os adwaen, 
Y sabl oll y sy o’u blaen. 
Velvet (who would not believe it?),
ebony too is black and pure;
silk and pepper, if I’m well informed,
they all bear pure sable before them.

(poem 33.9-12)

In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, black was very fashionable and the colour of choice to be worn by the nobility. Although the traditional colours like red, purple, blue and green were still popular, referring to black clothing in the poetry is a way of emphasizing the patron’s love of fashion and adherence to the latest trends. Black silk, velvet and damask are plentiful among the items bequeathed to family members in surviving wills from sixteenth-century Wales.

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