Picture Friday: Domestic Violence

A distaff is great for holding your fibre and acting as a third hand when drafting. It has other uses too.

Miniature of Orpheus lying on his back, protesting himself from Thracian women armed with spindles and distaffs.

Here is a miniature of Orpheus lying on his back, protecting himself from Thracian women armed with spindles and distaffs from an English manuscript from around 1450.

I’ve never hit anyone with my distaff on purpose but when I have it through my belt I have to be aware of those around me, especially if I have it through my belt and turn around too quickly! I’ve also managed to drop it upon my own head a few times. Don’t ask how, I really couldn’t say! haha


6 responses

  1. After failing in his attempt to win back his bride Euridice from Hades after her death, Orpheus forswore the love of women (Wikipedia claims that he turned to the love of youths instead). When a group of female Dionysian revelers came upon him and he refused to carouse with them, they began to throw objects at him, but the music he was playing upon his lyre was so lovely that even the sticks and stones veered away and did not strike him. Enraged, the women tore him to pieces with their hands. Interestingly, in the image above, the spindles are flying out in the opposite direction and none of the distaffs are connecting with him.

  2. I have tried hitting a chap with my distaff. He was in full armour and my distaff snapped in two – with huge comic effect! Fortunately my distaffs are very simple – just a forked stick from a hedge with the bark trimmed off, which I wear stuck through my belt – so no harm done.

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