Britain is experiencing a cold snap and consequently there is talk of how to keep warm. This has made me look at old ways to keep out the cold.
.This is a detail of a tapestry which hung in a hall in Medieval England. It was a barrier against the cold drafts which crept in through the walls.
It shows a summer hunting scene. Dogs are chasing a bear and a boar. At the same time, well dressed courtiers are chasing each other. The flowers and foliage, fine dress and warm cheerful colours are designed to make the onlookers think of the warm months. We are transported to summer for a moment.
The Guernsey sweater is a traditional woollen jumper which has been made since the 1400s. It was knitted, with pride, in the Channel Islands and designed to be worn by the local fisherman. It is easy to move around in and has a tight knit and oily wool to resist sea spray and wind. The fisherman wore the sweater loose and next to the skin, so a layer of insulating warm air built up.
I noticed that the Inuit wear their parkas with the fur directly against bare skin when one of the characters in the film Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner peeled off his parka. The film, which gives a realistic picture of Inuit life, could be set at any time in the tribes’ history. People have lived in this area of Arctic Canada for 4000 years. This kind of clothing has ensured that they survived. The Inuit wear a second parka on top of the first, this time with fur facing outwards, so snow and ice can be shaken off.