Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles

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(454 words)

Feathers cover the bodies of birds; they are soft, they trap heat and they can be found in a variety of sizes, types and colours. They are made of keratin and the basic feather structure consists of a central tapering rod supporting a fringe on either side. The central rod is divided into two sections. The quill or calamus is the base of the shaft which goes into the skin; it is transparent, hollow and cylindrical. The second section is the shaft or rhachis which supports the vane and is solid and quadrangular. The fringe, vane or vexillum is made up of barbs or rami and each barb has a double row…

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Maria Hayward, “Feathers”, in: Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles, Edited by: Gale Owen-Crocker, Elizabeth Coatsworth, Maria Hayward. Consulted online on 17 July 2019 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2213-2139_emdt_COM_308>
First published online: 2012
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004124356, 20120503

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