Pelts of the Barbarian

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Astrid follows the dress code of the viking warriors.

"Oh please god let this episode be about Reb killing people with a battle axe while riding on a motorcycle, dressed in furs and wearing a huge horned helmet!"
The Spoony Experiment reviewing the Miami Vice episode "Viking Bikers From Hell" (where Reb Brown played the villain).

Barbarians, particularly those from the Grim Up North, typically wear garments made of rough furs, leathers, hides, and simple cloth. Thus such clothing can indicate the wearers are part of a primitive, but Proud Warrior Race (even if not everyone in that race is particularly tough).

What this means can vary. When such people are portrayed as savage and underdeveloped, such clothing stands in stark contrast to the "civilized" people, where even their peasants wear nicer materials.

Other times these clothes are just treated as part of the barbarian charm. Who has time to make fancy clothes when they often have to fight packs of wolves, and/or frost giants? There's no point in making the chief's robes out of velvet, embroidered symbols, and ermine edging. Just cut bearskins into cloak shapes and toss them over their shoulders as a Badass Cape.

The exact clothing worn will vary. Often these people are fully dressed, but just as often they mainly wear loin cloths and fur bikinis. And they tend to dress this way whether they are in their homeland or not (so this trope doesn't preclude Exposed to the Elements).

Two common Real Life groups depicted this way in media are Vikings and Mongols, although that often falls into Hollywood Costuming. You can often tell fantasy counterpart cultures of them if the people dress this way.

Can also overlap with Nemean Skinning.

A Sub-Trope of Hollywood Dress Code.

Compare Pretty in Mink (wearing fur is for looking glamorous instead of looking cool), An Ice Suit, Beard of Barbarism (ways of styling a beard to show one is tough).

See also Barbarian Hero (characters who tend to dress like this), Frazetta Man (primitive people who wear very little hide clothing), Post-Apunkalyptic Armor (various materials crudely made into clothes), Nubile Savage.

Contrast Stylish Protection Gear.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk:
    • Nosferatu Zodd, the Blood Knight Apostle who has stalked the battlefield for over 300 years, wears animal pelts and leather about his loins to emphasize his beast-like and barbaric persona. It's seemingly more his style preference than any particular need to keep warm since he once fought in the snow barefoot and wearing nothing but a loincloth with no sign of frostbite. Indeed, the first time that Guts encountered him he was fighting completely naked!
    • Pelts and leather is the unofficial uniform of the Black Dog Knights, Midland's penal army composed of the kingdom's worst convicted rapists and murderers led by Apostle and Psycho for Hire Wyald. They grow their hair long and wild, wearing little besides their cuirasses and the furs around their loins and shoulders. Their leader Wyald, in particular, wears a great wolf pelt with the animal's face still on it over his head and shoulders, as well as black fur pelts lashed around his shins and forearms by leather thongs. The Black Dog Knights are considered to be more of a mob of barbarians than a proper army, as likely to Rape, Pillage, and Burn the King's subjects as the enemy, for which they are posted on the country's frontiers where their presence won't disgrace the regular military.

    Comic Books 
  • Astérix:
    • The Normans and Goths wear furry clothing.
    • In contrast, Roman standard-bearers are the civilized version, who wear more stylish lion skin capes.
    • One goth in Asterix the Legionary turns out to be wearing a freestanding fur cape as his only clothing.
  • In Dragon Magazine, a comic strip showed several knights in armor with one guy dressed in furs with a horned helmet who thought it was casual day.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the film of The 13th Warrior, the Vikings wear long furry capes as they travel to help King Hrothgar defend his lands.
  • In Black Panther (2018) the Jabari tribe are even more isolationist than the rest of Wakanda, and live in the mountain, which are so high they are covered in snow. Hence the people there wear some animal pelts (but not too much, to keep their badass appearance).
  • When we first see the villain in Highlander he is wearing skulls and black animal hides. He was raised by the brutal Kurgan tribes from the steppes of Russia.
  • In the film of The Hobbit, the Dwarfs have been essentially nomadic after Smaug drove them out. Some of them wear rough pelts on their travels, such as Thorin's cape. After they regain the kingdom under the mountain, they trade their clothes for fine robes.
  • The Last Legion: Goths are covered in furs head to toe (some even wear horned helmets), Romans only when they have to cross the snowed Alps (and even then, they wear only a fraction of the furs worn by the average Goth).

    Literature 
  • Although the eponymous legendary warrior of Conan the Barbarian is often depicted wearing just a loin cloth, he'll often wear rough pelts when the need to dress warmer comes. This applies to the books and adaptations.
  • The standard outfit of the barbarian heroes of the Discworld comprises a leather loincloth, a few scraps of metal, and an optional fur or leather cloak. Spoofed with Nijel the Barbarian in Sourcery, who is learning barbarian heroing from a book, and wears his loincloth over the top of woolen longjohns.
  • Lone Wolf: The Ice Barbarians of Kalte wear heavy fur clothes to protect themselves from the cold. Of course, the hero and his guides are similarly garbed when they venture in this arctic region.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones. The Northerners and wildlings in the Grim Up North have an excuse, given that it's cold and winter is coming. Certainly everyone south of where they regard them as barbarians (this includes the Northerners thinking this of the wildlings). In the commentary Lena Headey talks of how attractive the actors are with fur wrapped around them. Incidentally, the coats are stitched together from IKEA throwrugs.
  • In Star Trek (starting with the films) the Klingons are normally dressed in leathers and furs, as befitting their status as the archetypal Proud Warrior Race.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons often includes this as armor options for characters, whether or not they chose the barbarian character class (which in this game is part vocation and part culture).
  • The Norscans of Warhammer (evil satanic Vikings) wear animal furs along with ornate armor (the proportions vary depending on how badass/rich they are).
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Space Wolves (heroic space Vikings) often wear wolf skins over their armor, usually one they've killed during their rites of passage. The White Scars (heroic space Mongols) do it to a lesser degree.

    Video Games 
  • Simon Belmont, from Castlevania has been always wearing his anachronistic barbarian outfit, both in the original timeline and in the reboot. In the later at least it's roughly in the XI century, so it stands out less than the original timeline where he lived in the XVII century.
  • Chrono Trigger: Ayla's people live in prehistoric times, so animal skins are their main source of clothing, but Ayla is a badass by herself, and wears a gray fur bikini, with a long tail attached.
  • In Dark Souls II the kingdom of Forossa collapsed after a war, so the people turned into lawless raiders. The bandit armor set is from there, and it's made of metal, leathers, furs, and a pile of animal skulls on one shoulder. Even before that, Forossan warriors were known for their savagery on the battlefield. The actual Forossa Knight armor, while better put together, still has furs over the shoulderplates, giving it a distinctly wild feel. And then there's the armor worn by Vengarl of Forossa, the guy even other Forossans considered to be a terrifying, bloodthirsty lunatic (although part of him has since mellowed out).
  • Some of the Snowmads in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze wear pelts. The most notable example is their leader, Lord Fredrik, who wears a fur cape.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Throughout the series, hide and fur are the most common materials for crafting low-end Light Armor. If the armor is given a racial origin, it is commonly Nordic or, in Morrowind, Ashlander in origin. (Though more civilized Dunmer (Dark Elves) will use it as well.)
    • Skyrim, set in the homeland of the aforementioned Nords, takes this aesthetic and runs with it. To note:
      • The default male Dragonborn depicted on the cover wears heavy fur armor (and a horned helm)—just to drive a point home that the eponymous setting is a Grim Up North. In game the Dragonborn can wear Fur Armor ripped from the cold corpses of bandits or Forsworn Armor from the group of the same name, the latter of which has a lot of skulls (some of them human). Since fur armor is just a bunch of animal pelts stitched together it is really only good in the early game before the Dragonborn can start forging/finding better armor. Forsworn armor is found later in the game and is outclassed by the armor you already should have, not like the forsworn need it as their magical resistance and high levels make them pretty durable, especially the Briarhearts.
      • The Stormcloak Officer armor, such as the one worn by Galmar Stone-Fist, has a bear pelt to act as a cape and hat.
      • Most of the clothing worn by Giants is made up of pelts and fur, though few wear more than a simple loin cloth.
  • Evil Islands: Everyone in Gipath (both allies and enemies) wear fur and leather clothes and armor, as opposed to the more civilized inhabitants of Ingos and Suslanger, who wear either more refined silk clothes or metal armor.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild lets Link wear a Barbarian armor set with animal skins, a horned monster skull for a helmet, and a bare midriff. Each piece increases attack power.
  • In The Long Dark you initially start out with a set of conventional clothing, but as you kill animals you can craft your own fur clothing, which includes deer skin pants and boots, wolf skin coat and bear skin bedroll. These are warmer but heavier than conventional clothing. There is even a Steam achievement called Wrapped in Furs for using all of them at once.
  • Pillars of Eternity has Sagani, a boreal dwarf ranger from the icy, far southern island of Naasitaq, who comes to you dressed in midriff-baring furs and hides.
  • Princess Anaele of Skalt in Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem comes from a Viking-inspired Grim Up North culture and dresses accordingly — in light battle armor and a cloak with a massive fur collar — despite being a representative of her country on a diplomatic summit. Her entourage follows suit, showing off their fur-trimmed clothes, — and it is strongly implied that they do it on purpose, to annoy the rest of the delegates and to demonstrate that they prefer swords over words.
  • One of the armors in Tales of the World is the "Radiant Berserker", which has a white tiger skin as a Showgirl Skirt.
  • Beastmasters in Warcraft III wear animal skin loincloths and hoods... and that's it, really. Orc shamans wear wolf skins as well.
  • World of Warcraft: The Lich King, who sits on the Frozen Throne, wears furry boots and fur-trimmed gauntlets as part of his Scary Impractical Armor.

    Western Animation 
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In "Dexter the Barbarian", Dexter, in his barbarian fantasy, fights with a pack of wolves and wears their fur. In reality, it turned out that he shaved his dog.
  • In the Earthworm Jim cartoon, Jim comes across the Sword of Righteousness, which tries to encourage Jim to dress like a real hero, which includes Viking style furry clothes as well as a wig. Then it turns out the sword doesn't know what it's doing, and always failed to help a hero win a fight.
  • Gargoyles: Odin is one of the children of Oberon, but otherwise still like the Asgardian figure of legend. He wears a white bearskin cape, which turns out to help him transform into a polar bear when he needs to.
  • Thundarr the Barbarian: Thundarr is a barbarian warrior in a post-apocalyptic world. He wears what is basically a brown fur vest and loincloth. Every other barbarian we see also has a fur costume of some sort.

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