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Material Magic: The Deliberate Concealment of Footwear and Other Clothing

From: Parergon
Volume 30, Number 2, 2013
pp. 109-128 | 10.1353/pgn.2013.0117

Abstract

Abstract:

The deliberate concealment of clothing and footwear within the fabric of buildings has been broadly recognised as evidence of belief in the power of magic. Despite numerous examples of such concealments from across Europe and in areas of European migration, from the Middle Ages and later, there has yet to be discovered any direct documentation of this practice, an absence which poses methodological problems for historians attempting to understand it. This article examines the probable medieval origins of this phenomenon and poses some additional theoretical approaches towards explaining it.