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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Exploring Character and Place in A Seared Sky #10

The tabard.

This is the 10th in a series of pieces on characters and places featured in Joinings: A Seared Sky. This background information, isn’t covered in the book, but should enhance the reading experience. For some of my people, there’ll be a character drawing, supplied by Alice Taylor, maybe a video interview, and accompanying script. I may do short pieces of fiction, deepening knowledge of certain minor characters as well.
For the places, I may use sections of the map, to indicate location, along with a description of the place, as I see it, and, where appropriate, links with characters. Perhaps I’ll indicate the way of life there with a short anecdote or story.
This week, I’m diverting from the usual post about location or character and letting you see how some of the people dress.
I won’t reveal any of the main story, either as already published or as written in the series, merely enhance readers’ enjoyment of the trilogy by providing more information. I hope this will give pleasure to those who’ve bought the book and, perhaps, persuade others to take that step.

Pronunciation hints:
Names are pronounced phonetically. But this is my take on them; how I hear them in my head. You may pronounce them as you wish, of course; reading is, after all, active rather than passive.

How Followers dress.

The population of Muhnilahm, known collectively as Followers, all dress in a standard item: the tabard. This is fashioned from a single piece of fabric, which can be anything from jute sacking to the sheerest silk, with linen being the choice of most. That choice depends more on wealth and status than on piety. It’s the only garment worn by men and women on this tropical island and is intended to be easily removed for prayer: naked is sacred here.
The tabard accommodates the head through a central hole, which can be round, diamond shaped (to give a V opening front and back) or square. The degree of upper body exposure is up to the wearer, but excessive display is frowned upon. The garment is fastened by tags through loops at each side and these can number from two to five, again depending on the wearer’s attitudes to modesty. Tags can be bone, wood, worked stone or metal.
A belt or cord cinches the tabard at the waist. This fastening can be anything from plain cord to the finest and softest leather or even woven gold thread. Many married women wear a cord woven from the cut locks of their own hair entwined with that of their buck taken at their first public joining ceremony.
According to taste, status and wealth, the item can be completely plain, dyed with a pattern, or adorned with embroidered designs of any sort. And the hem of the garment generally falls from a length that’s barely decent to one that reaches the knee.

Accompanying this piece are a couple of sketches to show how the garment looks as an item of clothing and as worn. Please bear in mind I’m no artist, so these are pretty rough illustrations, but I hope they give an indication of the design of the tabard.

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