Viking Description -- 10th Century

Viking description sometime between the years 908-932

by Ibn Fudhlan, a Greek resident in Baghdad who held a position of trust in the court of the Caliph Muktedit (908-32).



I never saw people more perfectly developed; they were tall as palm-trees, and ruddy of countenance with red hair. They wear neither coat or caftan, but the men have only a coarse cloak, which they hand over their shoulders so that one hand is left free.

Every man carries an axe, a knife or a sword with him; they are never without these weapons. Their swords are broad and decorated with wavy ornamentation and Frankish wrok. One one side of the sword form the point to the hilt are depicted trees, figures and the like.

The women wear a breastplate of iron, silver, copper or gold according to the wealth of their husbands. On the breastplate is a ring and to this, likewise on the breast, is attached a knife. Round their necks they wear gold and silver necklaces. For if a man possesses 10,000 dirhems he has a necklace made for his wife. If he has 20,000 she received two, and the woman always receives a fresh necklace every time the man becomes richer by 10,000 dirhems. For this reason a woman of the Rus often has a multitude of necklaces around her neck.

The finest jewellery of this people is glass beads of the kind which are also to be found on their ships. They value them very highly and pay a dirhem for them and thread them on strings for their wives...

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