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Shepherds Purse: Non-shepherds wearing a Shepherds Purse style

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One of the features that struck me as I gathered extensive examples of the style-group I came to call the "Shepherds Purse" was the virtual absence of this style of pouch worn by people who were not identifiable as shepherds. The four exceptions are primarily comprised of swineherds. If the style of the bag represents a response to particular occupational needs, this should not be at all surprising. Like the shepherds, these swineherds are portrayed in the course of their duties wandering around the countryside tending to and procuring food for their animals. Unlike reapers and mowers, they are not working from a "local base" where supplies and necessities can be left. And unlike pilgrims and other travelers, they may require a relatively high level of mobility, keeping hands and arms free (where a shoulder bag might get in the way -- although, to be sure, shepherds are also found with shoulder bags). Three scenes show swineherds with this style of pouch.


Pursuit of St. Barbara

Hours of Henry VIII

Belles Heures de Jean de Berry


The other exception to the association of Shepherds Purses with shepherds is a reaper, seen in the background of a scene showing shepherds involved in shearing. It is possible that this is an anomaly, with the style "bleeding over" from the representation of the shepherds. Unlike the example of the swineherds, this is an isolated example, although I looked at a wide range of pictures of reapers and mowers.

Tres Riches Heures

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