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Birka Coat

900 - 1000 CE

Alternate Name: Caftans / Kaftans

This women's coat dates to a find in Sweden from around the 9th or 10th century, but its true origins go back as far as ancient Mesopotamia. This garment was worn in several different ways, some modified with an unusually low neckline fastened by either a trefoil or circular brooch. The coat was speculated to be worn this way to allow the wearer to show off their more elaborate oval dress brooches. Coats of this style are attributed solely to the Eastern regions, where they are referred to as caftans or kaftans.

A common misconception about this find was the presence of small studs thought to be buttons; it is much more likely that they were used as mounts for silk and precious metal posaments that decorated the breast. While cloaks and shawls were much more common at the time, this versatile coat would have shown the wearer to be wealthier than average.

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