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Regarding the Glib

PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 1:24 pm
by carraig
I've read through several descriptions of the glib and quite remember the small discussion we had on the old forum.
There's one thing that came to my mind. Recently I've been browsing my photos of the Bayeux Tapestry and noticed many figures sporting a mane with the back of the skull shaved. Technically, that was a glib. And none of those lads depicted there were Irishmen.

Now, I know that there's a fair share of history between Hastings and, say, the Desmond Rebellion, but since the only depiction of a glib contemporary to saffron-clad kern is the Durer's woodcut, then perhaps earlier depictions of a similar hairstyle could give us an idea of what the glib might have been.

Any thoughts?

Re: Regarding the Glib

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 11:45 pm
by Swifty
Hi there.

My view on this is that the Norman hairstyle of which you speak, which although cropped short on the sides and back, is not particularly long on the top - which the glib was as you no doubt know - long enough to hide the 'thievish countenance' in the aspects of the faces of our Gaelic forebears - at least according to the long term English tourists of the time. Asides this - and I don't have the book to hand right now - but I'm pretty sure that prior to the Statutes of Kilkenny the culán was the Irish hairstyle of the time which was worn long at the back of the head with the hair cropped short from the ears going forward. The glib was therefore a full turn-around of the style that foreran it and in no time the culán was forgotten (until the it's re-emergence as the mullet in the latter twentieth century) and the glib suddenly became the epitome of Gaelic manhood. Because the Statutes of Kilkenny forbade the culán, it is thought that the glib only dates therefore from the second half of the thirteenth century - a full 200 years after the momentous events of 1066 and their famous record in the Bayeax Tapestry.

Hope that answers the question

Dave Swift

Claíomh - 16th/17thC Gaelic Living History & Military Heritage

Re: Regarding the Glib

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 4:44 pm
by carraig
Hello there and thanks for reply,

Of course, I didn't suggest something like "Oh look, Normans with glibs, so I'm going glibbish to the next Hastings gig".
The only reason I've mentioned the BT was the similarity between the norman haircut and the Durer "poor-class" one.
And since all BT figures are in profile, it would give us a better idea of the style. And now noone needs to worry if he want's a glib for 16th c. and go Norman in the same season :P
As to the glib hiding "thievish countenance", remember that anti-Gaelic propaganda was much like every other: over-exaggerating. So we read ancient accounts of gaulish moustache being scruffy, dirty with food and rinsed with beer, however that doesn't fit to the Gaulish hygiene we know of. The Jews all had a 6-shaped nose according to NAZI propaganda, although it's plain ballocks. Therefore a glib long enough to block the sight or even the entire face is as ridiculous as above examples. We don't see such a thing on the Durer's woodcut and anyone would surely find out, that a big ball of hair on one's face would be more irritating than anything else, especially when speaking of always-fighting Irish, who just couldn't afford to hop around the battlefield blind because of a "stylish" hairdo.

Re: Regarding the Glib

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 6:31 pm
by redrazors
so, to use swifty's analogy, if the culán was the mullet of its day, then the glib was the emo fringe? ;)

Re: Regarding the Glib

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 1:38 pm
by carraig
Only if You brush it over one eye :lol:

Re: Regarding the Glib

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 3:02 pm
by finnobreanan
I have always found the term "Glib" somewhat confusing:

Glib\, n. [Ir. & Gael. glib a lock of hair.] A thick lock of hair, hanging over the eyes. [Obs.]

"The Irish have, from the Scythians, mantles and long glibs, which is a thick curied bush of hair hanging down over their eyes, and monstrously disguising them." --Spenser.
"Their wild costume of the glib and mantle." --Southey.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc."

The OED says, "A thick mass of matted hair on the forehead and over the eyes, formerly worn by the Irish."

My modern Irish/English dictionary translates glib as "Fringe".

Irenius attacks the glib, the Irishman's long hair, like a woman's, which enables him to disguise himself whether he covers his face with his hair or cuts the hair off.

"A ‘glib’ was a thick roll of hair at the forehead which a law of 1537 specifically forbade the English in Ireland to wear." (Nothing is in the Statutes of Kilkenny that I could find).

From these definitions it sounds that it could also be long hair hanging in locks. If you look at the Derricke woodcut of, "Turlough Lynagh O'Neale and the other kerne kneel to Sidney in submission." The Kern's hair is long and hanging in locks all around the head, not just the front. ... 64_jpg.htm

I'm just throwing this out as another posible interpretation, as opposed to the Kern in Durer's print. I'm really not sure, but it could even be both.

Still confused

Re: Regarding the Glib

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 5:57 pm
by carraig
As to Spenser, he's a bit unreliable, with all his Scythian nonsense and the parts about a Spanish origin of the saffron leine (we all know that Spaniards of yore were more fond of snow-white camisas with decorative hems as shirts).

Regarding the shape of a glib, I think I start to see a pattern here. Most *descriptions* of a glib come from anti-Irish sources, while dictionaries and encyclopaedias tend to focus on those descriptions, while ignoring the, quite scarce, iconography.

My idea of relying more on Durer, than those descriptions is quite simple. Durer just made a woodcut of some mercenaries he saw once. He had no intentions of showing them in a negative way, while Spens(c?)er and others like him had every reason to do it.

It's just as with ancient historians, when regarding Early Republican quarrels between Rome and various neighbours, it's better to rely on Polyb, a Greek, not interested in over-praising the Romans, than on Livy, who made up much of the history in his "AUC" because of his "program". But that's another story ;)

Re: Regarding the Glib

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 9:01 pm
by the_power
I assumed that the Glib was a dredlocked fringe - they mention 'matted' a few times, which might be an alternative to blinding yourself with an annoying fringe.


Re: Regarding the Glib

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 1:16 am
by finnobreanan
the_power wrote:I assumed that the Glib was a dredlocked fringe - they mention 'matted' a few times, which might be an alternative to blinding yourself with an annoying fringe.


Interesting observation. If you look closely at the kern in this image, they do look like dredlocks! ... 64_jpg.htm

Re: Regarding the Glib

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 10:47 am
by carraig
Another important quote from Camden's Britannia written by William Good:

"They generally go bare-headed save when they wear a headpiece, having a long head of haire, with curled Gleebes, which they highly value and take it hainously if one twitch or pull them."

That would suggest that shaving the back of the skull wasn't necessary for a Glib and this description reminds of the haircuts de Heere's kern or the surrendering Irish of Derricke's woodcuts sport.