Cambrian Folk Costume
One of the most distinctive part of the Cambrian traditional dress, the towein (or "Clan Cape") is made of a roughly rectangular piece of fabric with a strip of elaborate patterns (ill mull) on 2 sides and a small length of cloth or leather (lla llingw) sown to one end between the Mull and the plain field (ill camp). It is generaly worn over the left shoulder,
The Towein traces its origin to the round cape that was worn over their toga by higher class Brittons during the roman era. With time and changing fashion it shortened until it became a strictly decorative piece of clothing.
Despite popular belief, the elaborate design on its edges was not originaly associated with any particular person or family. No one know for sure exactly when certain mull became clan specific but it is believed to have come about through the "passing of the toga" tradition of the late middle ages. To symbolised continuity, the eldest son of a lord would receive his father's toga after his death. Since many litterary records implies that the same toga was passed on to more then one generation, some historian believe that the toga in question might not have been the original one (which would have been in poor state due to wear) but rather an exact reproduction.
What is known for sure is that by the renaissance, some mulls had become associated with specific clan leaders. For example, in a contemporary chronicle of the Battle of Gulden, Sir Antoin (of clan Prefder) is said to have rallied is troops (who thought him dead) by tying his towein to a lance and holding it high. This would seem to indicate that the colour and pattern were distinctive enough to be recognised at a distance.
The next evolution came when some clan leaders began to instruct their retainers and servants to wear a similar or slightly modified towein to show others under which authority they were acting. There is also a few example of associated clan lords trading their own mull when proclaiming aliegance to another lord. Either to distinguish between Lieges and Feals or for simple reason of economy, the cape worn by the subordinate was not of body lenght by only covered one shoulder and to this day, the Clan's Chiefs wear the Gran Towein (or great cape) while other clanmembers wear the Med Towein (or half cape).
Today, Towein are worn by the majority of the population and while these are mostly clan related, an increasing number of people can be seen wearing regional, corporative and even sports team inspired ones.
The creation of Mulls today tend to follow certain rules (although there are, of course, exceptions).
Firstly it will be stitched using only 3 type of coloured threads: 1 muin ("metal": either yellow or white), 1 tint ("tincture": red, green, blue) and Antrawsit ("charcoal": black). Different shades within the pattern can be achieved by stiching the tint closely with either the muin (clearer) or Antrawsit (darker).
The pattern itself is divided into column and lines (see diagram above). There are 2 type of lines: the "Parent Line" and the "Baby Line". The parent line is always at least the height of 3 baby lines and is made of a more complex pattern then the later. pattern are usualy made of diamonds and squares.
A mull begins with one parent line followed by a number of identical baby lines (alway in odd numbers of 3,5 or 7). The whole is then repeated.
The number of columns on the towein varies from clan to clan. In some, more columns means an higher place in the hierachy while in other, the number is meaningless and up to each individual's taste. Most clans do use a fixed number however.
One should note that although it is true that older Mull tended to be simple design, it does not follow that all complex ones are recent.
While the Gran towein is normaly held in place by virtue of a belt, the Med Towein require a slightly more complex method so as not to impede its wearer. Firstly, it must be of such a length that it cover the arm fully when extended and goes slightly below the belt so has to give some slack.
The towein is first put over the shoulder with the llingw toward the back facing inward. The llingw is then passed through the belt and tied in place (some clans have their own special ways of tying the knot) ensuring that it allows free movement to the wearer. A set of broaches linked by a chain ( lla ffifol) is then attached to the front and back so that the towein will not slide off the shoulder.
It is thus possible to flip the towein back over the shoulder to gain easy access to one's sword without having it fall off. To do this is called "Nydar sew cleidd" [unclothing one's sword] and in olden days was the usual way of declaring a duel (by doing it in front of the other person). Athough the era of dueling is over, the expression is still used in the sense of "provoking someone". Although not invoked for centuries, to flip one's towein in front of the king is still a capital offence.
The brooches of the ffifol are most often in the shape of the clan's badge. Some however are worn for strictly esthetical choices are can represent animals, religious symbols or other miscellaneous designs. One seen quite often over the years is the "arrow through the shoulder" designs with the front brooch being in the shape of an arrow's tail and the back one being shaped like an arrowhead. Needless to say, it is considered kitsh by the more traditional type.
These are socks that go halfway up the knees. they are usualy in the colour of the towein's field with one column of the mull at the top.
Military personnel replace those with a pair of gaiter similarly coloured.
The traditional hat has a soft cylindrical top and slightly slouching rim. a band reprsenting one column of the mull is often added at the base of the cylinder.
Military personel wears this hat with the right side of the rim pinned to the cylinder with a regimental badge. This was originaly made so the it would not get damaged by the early flintlock weapons.
The ceremonial swords worn during some ceremonies. Unlike other swords, it is relatively short and with a distinctive circular pommel.