Gawaine’s Girdle

The wife of Sir Bertilak de Hautdesert pressed Gawaine to accept her sash of green silk, richly embroidered in gold as a love token, assuring him that it would save its wearer from all injury. Since he had to offer his neck to the Green Knight’s axe next day, the promise of a sash that might save him from injury proved too tempting to resist.

Whether the girdle actually had this saving property is in doubt, since while Gawaine wore it the Green Knight did draw blood. Gawaine determined to wear the sash ever afterward, obliquely across his chest, as a reminder of his failing. The rest of Arthur’s court thought he had done rather well and determined to wear similar sashes to honor him. This was the origin of the Order of the Garter.