My fourth A&S entry, Received a 1st at regional.
It will be going to Kingdom
The book satchel or polairie is a limp bag, or wallet style bag in which religious text were stored. The satchel was either hung on a peg in the library when not in use or carried around the neck while traveling; it also made the books easier to carry out of the monastery if there was a fire or a raid (Waterer 76, 78). The unique thing about these items and their use is that the practice of making and using these “book bags” seems to be solely the trade of Irish monks during the medieval period. Almost all the images of Irish saints, clerics, etc. have them carrying a satchel (Raftery 51), (Waterer 80).
There are only three physical examples of polairies in existence today, The Book of Armagh polairie 11th or 12th century, the Breac Moedoic budget 8th or 9th century, and the Corpus Christi budget 8th or 9th century (Waterer 76-80). Although the Breac Moedoic budget is not a polairie per say (it actually contains a metal shrine, and therefore should be classified as a Cumbach or reliquary) the design and construction of the budget is the same as the others and therefore added to the list of existing polairies (Miller).
The polairie is basically a piece of leather folded in half and sewn together. What makes polairies different from other bags and purses from the period is the intricate embellishment, and the way they were constructed. The most intact of the three polarities is the Breac Moedoic, which I based my construction on.
I used the template of the Breac Moedoic Budget from John Waterer’s “Leather Craftsmanship” which shows exactly how the budget was constructed, and how the side gussets were cut and assembled. Polairies were custom made for the books that they contained, and so my polairie is made for the “Epistles of St. Paul”.
Waterer p. 77 figure 8
The knot work on the polairie was incised and tooled prior to assembly; this technique is also the common consensus as to when the knot work on the Breac Modoic polairie, and the Book of Armagh polairie was done (Waterer 78, Getty). Once the tooling was complete, the gussets were sewn. This proved to be the most difficult part of the polairie taking 4 hours, due to the thickness of the leather, the narrowness of the “pouch” and the extent of the tooling, the gussets had to be sewn right-side-out (Waterer 78) as opposed to turn shoes where the pieces are sewn inside-out then “turned” right-side-out.
The finished gussets are not exactly perfect. It seems that I cut the “receiving pockets” for the lower portion of the polairie too small and the curve into the bottom of the polairie from the gusset is a bit crunched up do to the miscalculation. Nonetheless, the gusset was done exactly like that of the Breac Moedoic polairie as shown by John Waterer.
Close-up of Gusset
The straps for
the finished polairie are similar to those of the
Dye used – Tandy Antique, Dark Brown
Artificial Sinew – To sew gussets and straps
Getty, Jonathon. Leatherworking in the Middle Ages, http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/leather/toolingclass.html
Miller, Harry. Cumdachs and Polaires: Medieval Irish Book Shrines and Book Satchels, http://www.eskimo.com/~hmiller/cumdachs.html
Raftery, Joseph. 1941.
Christian Art in Ancient
Waterer, J.W. Leather Craftsmanship, 1968, Frederick
A. Praeger, Publishers,
Breac Moedoic Budget – Waterer, J.W. Leather Craftsmanship, 1968, Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers, New York – Washington, plates 58,59