Friday, March 12, 2010

Wheel Of Time Embroidery Collection #3 - Rand's Coat Sleeve Embroidery 2

By Linda

This is the second of two posts on my embroideries of Rand’s coats. The previous post on Rand’s black and silver coat is here.

Nearly all of Rand’s coats are embroidered in gold thread, thin strips or wires of actual gold metal wound around a silk thread, to reflect his royal status. The gold thread is sewn onto the right side of the fabric with silk thread because it would damage the fabric if drawn in and out of it. Also, the thread was so valuable that the embroiderer aimed to have as much of it as possible on the right side of the fabric.

Moiraine had a number of coats made for Rand in Fal Dara and pretty much foisted them upon him. Lan instructed Rand to wear one of them to his meeting with the Amyrlin in Fal Dara and chose this one (see photo right):

Tangled, long-thorned briars climbed each red sleeve in a thick, gold embroidered line, and ran around each cuff. Golden herons stood on the collars, which were edged with gold.

- The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

The briars are of two strands of thick gold thread sewn down with gold coloured silk thread onto red silk fabric.

Perhaps Lan thought the coat appropriate because the briars with their long thorns were a warning that Rand is no pushover. Lan was concerned that Rand not seem easy meat to the Amyrlin and those with her:

"I am on your side, sheepherder. A little. Enough to help you a bit." The Warder's face was stone, and sympathetic words sounded strange in that rough voice. "What training you've had, I gave you, and I'll not have you groveling and sniveling. The Wheel weaves us all into the Pattern as it wills. You have less freedom about it than most, but by the Light, you can still face it on your feet. You remember who the Amyrlin Seat is, sheepherder, and you show her proper respect, but you do what I tell you, and you look her in the eye."

- The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

He thought the red colour right, too. Lan may have been thinking of the red eagle of Manetheren, which was a thorn to the Dark One's foot, because he gave Rand a pin with the Manetheren symbol on it to wear with the coat, but it has other associations too. With its thorny stems, the red coat may have reminded Siuan of her troubles with the Red Ajah, and of the threat the Red Ajah, and Elaida in particular, would be to Rand. Red and gold are two of the Dragon's colours: red symbolising Rand's anger and 'soul of fire', and the blood he has to spill, and gold his royal heritage and his role as the Lord of the Morning and Prince of the Dawn and as champion of the Light of the World, the Creator. And, of course, the colours are eye-catching and impressive.

Rand’s coat probably had two herons, one on each side of the collar (see photo of heron, left), since at that time Moiraine was trying to consciously fulfill the prophecy of:

“Twice and twice shall he be marked, twice to live, and twice to die,
Once the heron to set his path. Twice the heron, to name him true.

- The Great Hunt, Discord

Thom pointed this out to Rand in Cairhien (The Great Hunt, Discord). Moiraine needn’t have bothered; Rand's body received the prophesied markings soon enough.

I sewed the heron’s body in very thin silk thread wrapped with gold strip sewn down onto red silk fabric. The wings, tail and eye of the heron are coils of gold wire sewn down with gold silk thread.

The dragon’s colours being red, gold and white, it is perhaps not surprising that the second coat I illustrated, the one Rand wore in Tear when he hurled Callandor into the Stone, is also red embroidered with gold:

Rand strode down that corridor, looking straight ahead, imperious in a red coat embroidered with golden scrolls up his sleeves, cradling Callandor in his right arm like a scepter.

- The Shadow Rising, Into the Heart

The scrolls of Rand's sleeve panel shown right are thin gold (synthetic in this case) braid sewn onto red silk with gold-coloured silk thread. There is just the single line of embroidery along the sleeve, and none outlining the cuffs.


Marcia said...


Beautiful work as always, just brings it all to life! Ever considered making a full coat as Rand would wear? Tons and tons of work no doubt (and a bit of an expense as well), but it would be awesome, and something the WOT community would love, not to mention Team Jordan I'm sure.

(MJJ wants to see it my precious ;)

Linda said...

Thanks dear Marcia!

It's a really nice idea. I'm not sure if my tailoring skills are up to it. A full coat would have a lot of work and materials in it! And quite a bit of research too if I wanted to make it authentic to the period.

Right now I'm committed to an exhibition on embroideries inspired by, or about, maps for the end of next year. (And I'm not planning on doing a WOT inspired one, but all my own ideas this time.)

I'll continue to look at WOT fashion though.

Sorcha said...

Something just occured to me - for all his overall basis in th. 17th and 18th century, I don't think that RJ ever described the men in the series as wearing waistcoats, did he? It occured to me, because an embroidered waistcoat was such an essential part of flamboyant male dress in that period that it seems the ideal way to up the ante from a sartorial point of view, as Moraine was trying to do with Rand's coats. You can imagine the effect the described coat would have over a solid mass of red and gold patterned embroidery or brocade!

Of course, I shouldn't start thinking about things like this too closely, because that way lies wondering how the Red Ajah keeps itself from being the Slightly Streaky Maroon Ajah without the use of analine dyes...

Linda said...

RJ called them vests, not waistcoats. Workmen and artisans of a few nations wear them. Embroidered or decorative vests are popular for all men in Ebou Dar and on Toman Head.

I'm not sure that Rand will ever wear a goldworked vest since Mordeth beat him to it! Way back in The Eye of the World,Shadow’s Waiting.

It's true that while madder was a pretty effective dye it's tricky to use, which is why red fabrics were always more expensive than almost all other colours. Elayne would be selling a lot of her alum to make a mordant for the Red Ajah's clothing.

A minor bug of The Gathering Storm is that maroon appeared as a clothing colour when RJ never used it in earlier books. (Nor did he mention lavender previously, which also appeared as a clothing colour). Maroon is an anachronism; it is an aniline or coal tar dye and the WOT world not only doesn't have the technology for it yet, but there's no mention of coal being recognised, let alone mined.

Anonymous said...

"Maroon is an anachronism"

Sorry to contradict you, but dyes for that shade (dark brownish crimson) existed long before.

The Italians invented it in the 16th century and named the shade maronne (chestnut). Lyon in France made a shade of silk inspired by the Italians and called "coleur de marron", very popular in the first half of the 18th century.

The color name was first recorded in English in the second half of the 18th century.

In the real world it was a shade popular for drapes, hangings, ornaments and furniture rather than for clothing, but it existed before coal tar dyes.


Sorcha said...

Aha, that's why I never spotted that one - I was thinking of those vests as a garment that you would pull over the head, rather than something that would button up the front. Rand's outfits always look something like the first one on here: in my head, which is why the lack of waistcoat/vest always seems strange. A bit of a step up from farm clothes, definitely - maybe the gold vest was too much overkill!