Glossary

Aghetti – Laces made of ribbon and metal tips.

Balzo – a large rounded form headdress that was popular in the 1400s to the early 1500s. http://home.earthlink.net/~lizjones429/balzo-new.htm

Baragoni – the decorative gathering of the upper sleeve (Landini 2005, pp249).

Becche – garters for stockings, made of silk or velvet.

Borzacchini – Ankle boots (Landini 2005-pp143).

Braccia – unit of measurement used by the Florentines. One braccia of fabric = 58.8 cm (a modern yard of fabric is 91.4 cm). A gamurra required 10 – 15 braccia of fabric, which would be 6.5 – 10 yards.

Brochetta – brooch. A brochetta di spalla was worn on the shoulder and a brochetta di testa was worn in the hair.

Camicia – an undergarment that protected the outer layers of fabric from direct body contact.

Chermisi or Cremisi – Source for red dye. An insect that when crushed gives a red liquid appropriate for dying the most expensive fabrics.

Chopine – Shoes worn in Tuscany and Venezia with distinguishing high platforms or wood or cork. Typically worn over pianelle, they were decorated and used to protect the fine slippers from mud and water.

Cintura – A decorated girdle/belt made of fabric, metal plates or chain, pearls/gems, or a combination thereof. Paintings depict women hanging small bags, fans, tassels, pomanders of perfume, and sables from their cintura. The painting “St. Eligius in His Shop from 1370 depicts a goldsmith’s cintura for sale.

Cinquecento – 1500s, literally 500 in Italian.

Cioppa – a sleeved overgown called a cioppa in Naples, a pellanda in the north, and a sacco in Bologna (Herald 1981 214).

Coazzone – A long, hanging braid of hair. Usually wrapped in ribbons and sometimes worn with a trinzale (a delicate fabric or metal cap on the back of the head, Herald 81 215). Often accompanied by a circlet of string called a lenza, a fashion imported from Spain.

Colletto – A partlet or collar which was developed in response to a call for modesty from religious leaders (i.e. 1464 decree in Florence ordering that necklines be no more than 3.5 cm from the base of the neck, references on the Festive Attyre site and in Brown 2001). Also called a fazzoletto (Herald 1981), coverciere (Brown 2001), or gorgiera. It began as an unadorned silk drape, tied in front and worn on top of the bodice in the quattrocento and morphed into an ornamented covering worn under the bodice (embroidered, pleated, braided, laced, or jeweled. Landini 2005, pp250).


Copricalla – A term encompassing bonnets, berets, and headcoverings in general. Thought of as men’s fashion, Eleonora di Toledo made these popular for women in the 1540s (Landini 2005 pp157)

Cotta – A lighter version of the gamurra or gonnella. It is a gown which has detached sleeves, often of a contrasting color or fabric (Herald 1981, pp215).

Firenze – Florence, City of.

Gamurra – Known as the camora, zimarra, zottana, gonella, and zupa, this was the basic term for “gown” from the 1300s to the 1500s and worn by all classes in a variety of colors and fabrics. he gamurra was an Italian dress worn throughout the 15th century. It was a very basic, functional garment worn by women of all classes and ages. Kind of like the jeans and T-shirts of the Quattrocento. Regionally, its name varied and it was also called cotta, camurra, camora, zupa, zipa or socha . In its day, it was considered a long lasting, practical dress. Many inventories include older, worn gamurre that were still considered useful for wear at home onlyii. In A History of Private Life: Revelations of the Medieval World, Duby interprets two contemporaries of the time and their recommendations on dress. Leon Batista Alberti, who says (quoting Duby) “new clothes are for holidays; slightly used clothing is for everyday business; and really worn clothing is for the home”. Palmieri says (again quoting Duby) “for everyday home use, wear only the same clothing that everyone else wears. Two types of clothing were thus declared fit (and probably worn) for private use: simple clothes and fancy but worn or outdated costumes inherited from an ancestor or purchased from the ragpicker.” Later Duby states “A woman at home, no matter what her station, was likely to wear a gonnella (fourteen century) or gamurra (fifteen century, also known in Lomabardy as a zupa)… So dressed, she could go about her household chores and even run errands or make informal visits in the neighborhood.”iii.The fitted bodice acted as a foundation garment much like the later corset. It could be laced up the front or the sides or both. A good illustration of the construction of this type of gamurra is the Madonna del Parto, Piero della Fracesca, 1455. (Figure 4) The unusual painting shows a pregnant woman wearing a gamurra, with lacings open to accommodate a growing waistline. It not only shows the construction of the dress, but it also illustrates an interesting point-they did not have the luxury of maternity clothing as we know it today. A bodice would be fastened in several ways including lacings and buttons. Lacings could be closed diagonally (Figure 6), straight across (Figure 5) or in an X-pattern. http://www.geocities.ws/kamillavh/01.html


Giornea – An overgown (over the gamurra) that was sleeveless, open on the sides and down the front, and could have an optional train. It is pictured like a summer overdress, but it could be lined for winter according to Herald 1981, 218.

Gonnella – The simple dress of the 1300/1400s. Duby states “A woman at home, no matter what her station, was likely to wear a gonnella (fourteenth century) or gamurra (fifteenth century)… So dressed, she could go about her household chores and even run errands or make informal visits in the neighborhood.”


Gozzi – fashion of the 1450s, with characteristic wide sleeves of an overdress that were gathered at the wrist.

Guardaroba – Italian for Wardrobe.


Guarnello – A sheer overdress for home pastimes and after birth for mothers. Seen in Botticelli’s “Three Graces” and “Smeralda Bandinelli” in 1470s (Musscahio 2008:84). Also, Botticelli painted


Mantello – Mantle, in English. This was a long cloak that could be lined or unlined and draped over the shoulders and head (by older women according to Herald 222).. The most common fabric for this was wool (Frick 313). This was the most common over garb until the time of Eleonora di Toledo, who only had one listed in her inventory. After the mid-1500s zimarras and vesti outpaced the mantello in popularity. A shorter version was used by many women in Eleonora’s time called a mantellina. They were wool or silk and could be lined and fastened in front with decorated frog closures (like the zimarra) and trim.

Pellanda or Oppelanda – The oppelanda was basically the Italian version of a houppelande. There was a large margin for creativity in designing the opelanda. It was generally a very full garment, both in body and sleeves, usually lined, some even with fur. While some relied simply on the richness of texture in fabric for its style, others were generously decorated. Dagges, embroidery, fringe, pearls, belts and jewelry all added glory to the yards of fabricvi. In fact often, embellishment was reserved for the outer garments, leaving the gamurra underneath unadorned. In all cases, the design for these outer dresses were such that the under layers were visible in some way. Always either a sleeve or bodice lacings peaking out from underneath.


Perla – Pearls were loved for centuries in Italy. They were used in necklaces and earrings, and also o decorate snoods, partlets, and girdles.

Pianelle – Heavy-soled slipper shoes that could range from plain to laced, buckled, or slashed on top.

Poste or Sottoposte – A lightweight silk veil produced in Venice and exported all over Europe. They were worn around the waist like a belt, but were useful in a variety of ways and treated like a multipurpose scarf. Birbari speaks of a “veil, kerchief or scarf” which was an important accessory in a woman’s wardrobe, being worn on the head, or over the shoulders.


Quattrocento – 1400s, literally 400 in Italian.

Scapini – flat shoes (Landini, 2005, 143).


Saccoccia – Also called tasca, this was a small purse tied to the waist underneath the skirt and able to be reached through a slit in the fabric.

Sengaletto – This is the name for lacing string. It was made of silk and had knots or metal at the ends which made spiral lacing easier (Landini 2005: 83).

Sottana – similar to the English “Kirtle” Petticoat of the Tudor era, this dress was worn as an overdress in the cinquecento that could optionally be layered under a sleeved or sleeveless zimarra.


Trecento – 1300s, literally 300 in Italian.

Velo – The fine veils of the quattrocento were worn over braided or bound hairstyles adorned with frenelli (strung pearls) and a brochetta di testa (brooch for the hair).

Venezia – Venice, City of.

Zimarra – A long loose coat-like overgown with fastenings and (sometimes) sleeves. Inspired by Turkish Caftans (Landini 2005 pp252) and equipped with small pockets (Landini2005-pp110), these were the favorite overgarment of Eleonora di Toledo who had short sleeved versions for summer and lined long sleeved versions for winter.

Zoccoli – Platform shoes worn by men and women similar to the chopine (for protection), but not as high or decorated as fancy.

From Sugar & Gamurre at  http://www.geocities.ws/kamillavh/01012.html

Anderson, Ruth Matilda, Hispanic Costume, 1480-1530, Hispanic Society of America, New York, 1979.

Birbari, E., Dress in Italian Painting, John Murray Ltd., London, 1975.
Brown, P., Art and Life in Renaissance Venice, Harry N Abrams, Inc., New York, 1997.
Christiansen, K., Italian Painting, Hugh Lauter Levin Assoc. Inc. New York, 1992.
Cole, A., Virtue and Magnificence, Harry N. Abrams, Inc, New York, 1995.
Crowfoot, E. Pritchard, & Staniland, Textiles and Clothing c.1150-c.1450, HMSO Publications, London, 1992.
Duby, G.,ed., A History of Private Life: Revelations of the Medieval World, The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1988.
Herald, J., Renaissance Dress in Italy 1400-1500, Bell & Hyman, London 1981.
Laskowski, B., Piero della Francesca, Konemann, Germany, 1998.
Mola, L., The Silk Industry of Renaissance Venice, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2000.
Quermann, A. Ghirlandaio:Masters of Italian Art Series, Konemann, Germany 1998.
Roettgen, S. Italian Frescoes, Abbeville Press, New York, 1997.
Schaeffer, C., Couture Sewing Techniques, Taunton Press, Newtown, Ct., 1993.
Tinagli, P., Women in Italian Renaissance Art, Manchester University Press, Manchester 1997.

i J. Herald, Renaissance Dress in Italy 1400-1500, Humanities Press, NJ 1981, p.47.
ii Ibid
iii G. Duby, A History of Private Life;Revelations of the Medieval World, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1988, p. 194-5.
iv E. Birbari, Dress in Italian Painting, 1460-1500, John Murray Ltd. 1975, p. 9. (There are references to several gamurre owned by Beatrice d’Este, which were made of wonderfully sumptuous fabrics, woven with metal threads and heavily embroidered, one with the Sforza deviceiv.)
v Herald, ibid, p. 224.
vi Ibid, p. 49-50.
vii Ibid, p. 47. (aghetti)
viii Ibid, p. 50. (calze – stockings made of silk, wool, or sometimes linen)
ix Ibid, p. 211.
x J. Herald, Renaissance Dress in Italy, 1400-1500, Bell & Hyman, London, p 216. (fazzoletto)
xi D. Brown, Virtue and Beauty, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2001, p. 90. (coverciere)
xii Ibid.
xiii Birbari, p. 80 – 84. (This fazzolettox or covercierexi was so sheer that at first glance it could be easily missed. The hem was sometimes finished with beads or fine trim. They were also sometimes closed with small pins or buttons. These neck coverings were a product of sumptuary laws that, in 1464 ordered that dress necklines be no more than 3.3 cm or about 1.25 inches from the base of the neckxii. This explains the sudden appearance of this accessory in the later half of the Quattrocento)
xiv 1 silk-cloth braccio = 4 quarte = 63.8 cm = ~21 in
xv L. Mola, The Silk Industry of Renaissance Venice, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2000, p. 153.
xvi R.M. Anderson, Hispanic Costume, 1480-1530, Hispanic Society of America, New York, 1979, p. 219.
xvii Ibid, p. 406.
xviii Sendals were light silk fabrics similar to a veil.
xix Maifilli was waste silk thread.
xx Ibid, p.169.

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