Jousting with distaffs: symbolism through the ages

I (Kirstin) recently came across an article on medieval women warriors. As you might expect, there weren’t many, and in a world where history is written not only by the victors, but also mostly by men, what we know about these women is very little and very skewed. For instance, monks illustrating manuscripts refused to represent women jousting with actual lances because the imagery was too…uhm…provocative. 


Yale has made this manuscript available online here:

Instead, they represented women as jousting with distaffs. Although one could argue that the distaff is nearly as…risque…as a lance, since spinning was a traditional pastime for females, they felt more comfortable with it. 

Anyway, I know it’s been a long radio silence from us here at Cliff House. Rest assured, the business is cranking along. In fact, we have so many projects in the works we are going to have to let our regular updates on the blog slip. We are still here, still taking custom orders and making products, but we are concentrating on getting a more modern online store up and running (and Mom is learning how to spin).

Contact Mom at if you need anything or have any questions for us, and we’ll update the blog when we have something interesting to report! As ever, thanks for your support. You make what we do worthwhile. 

About cliffhousealpacas

Once upon a time, my dad drove by some funny looking animals standing on little dirt hills in a field. Thus, the dream of an alpaca ranch was born. Now, we are embarking on a grand adventure of raising alpacas and becoming fiber artists.
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