The Mahin Banu Grape Dish is a serving vessel 17 inches in diameter made during the Ming Dynasty’s Yongle Period in around 1420, and that’s just where the story begins. Its voyage would take it to the royal courts of Persia, the palace of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan during the time when he was building the Taj Mahal in Agra, in the modern era to New York where it starred in exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum, and now to Sotheby’s where it is set to go up for auction at the Important Chinese Works of Art sale on March 17th (short video covering the dish’s design and history here).
Persian traders were key middlemen in the trade between east and west, so much so that Persian became a common tongue along the Silk Road. As early as the 13th century Chinese porcelain was imported into Iran, and by the early 14th century Chinese kilns were manufacturing porcelain specifically for export to Persia. The demand was great enough that Persian tastes influenced the production of porcelain in China, particularly after the chaos and violence of the Mongol invasions severely inhibited the local market for expensive porcelain goods. Kilns started to produce larger plates than would be used in Chinese food service and included more geometric decorative elements like those seen in Islamic art.
Chinese potters also used Persian raw materials. The cobalt blue that is now so characteristic of Ming porcelain was imported from what is today the Kerman Province of southeastern Iran. When the foreign blue underglaze first began to be used to paint the prized pure white porcelain, in fact, the Chinese elite turned their noses up at it as vulgar and barbarous. Over time they realized it was extremely kickass, and Ming blue-and-white porcelain came to be considered the sine qua non of refinement and elegance.
The dish probably made its way west to Persia under the Timurid dynasty, founded by famed Timur (aka Tamerlane) in 1370. The Timurid aristocracy loved blue and white porcelain and amassed large collections of pieces from China. The Safavid dynasty, founded in 1501 by Shah Ismail I, carried on the practice of collecting blue-and-white porcelain and it was one of Ismail’s daughters, Princess Mahin Banu Khanum, who put her stamp (figuratively and literally) on the grape dish.
Born in 1519, Mahin Banu was a highly educated, politically savvy, devout woman. She earned a reputation as a patron of the arts, architecture and religious centers. With her own money derived from her properties in Shirvan, Tabriz, Qazvin, Ray and Isfahan, Mahin Banu supported holy shrines and founded charitable organizations, including one dedicated to funding dowries for orphaned girls who would otherwise have been destitute. Her father died in 1524 when she was just five years old, and her 10-year-old brother Tahmasp I came to the throne. A chaotic regency followed which Tahmasp put an end to with the execution of the regent in 1533.
Mahin Banu was Tahmasp’s youngest full sister and his favorite, so much so that she became his right hand, not just socially or in the arts or in a religious context, but politically as well. Mahin Banu was one in a line of unmarried royal Safavid women who became trusted counselors to their brothers and fathers. Without conflicting loyalties, husbands or children to deal with, they could put all of their talents to work helping their relatives. Safavid women of wealth and rank were educated as thoroughly as their brothers. They were tutored in reading, writing, fine art, calligraphy, religion and even martial arts like archery and horseback riding.
Mahin Banu accompanied her brother in the thick of the hunt and sat on horseback by his side during ceremonies when all the other royal women watched from a distance. According to chronicler Qumi’s Khulasat al-Tavarikh, Tahmasp was so dependent on his sister’s counsel that he wouldn’t make a move without seeking her approval first. She was his top advisor in all affairs of state and acted in an official capacity, engaging in diplomatic discussions with Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent’s powerful wife, Hurrem Sultan. She became known as the “Queen of the Age, the Mistress of the time.”
That unmarried status was not happenstance. Tahmasp jealously guarded his sister’s celibacy, chasing off all suitors until he found a permanent solution: a ritual betrothal to Muhammad al-Mahdi, the 12th of the Twelve Imams revered in Shi’a Islam who had died 600 years earlier in the 10th century. Tradition had it that the Mahdi would return again any day — a saddled white horse was left at the palace gate every night just in case — but this engagement wasn’t based on the premise that he’d actually come back and marry the princess. It was a device to prevent her from marrying anyone else and leaving her brother’s side for her husband’s.
Tahmasp shared his sister’s love of art (initially; towards the end of his reign he lost interest). His court created one of the most lavishly illuminated and calligraphied copies of the Shahnameh or Book of Kings, an epic poem recounting the mythical history of the Persian empire written in the 11th century by the poet Ferdowsi, on which the top artists worked for two decades. After the masterpiece was complete, Tahmasp gave it to the Ottoman sultan Selim II as a diplomatic gift on the occasion of his accession to the throne. Contemporary sources record it was part of a train of 34 camels laden with luxurious presents including brocades and other textiles, silk carpets, books and prized porcelain from the far east.
One of the artists who contributed to Shah Tahmasp’s Shahnameh was painter, master calligrapher and head of the royal library Dust Muhammad who also taught the young Mahin Banu calligraphy, some samples of which have survived and are now in the fabulous wonderland known as the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul. He left the Safavid court in the late 1530s, traveling to Kabul which was ruled by Kamran Mirza, brother of the embattled Mughal emperor Humayun, and then in 1555 went to India by invitation of Humayun himself.
Humayun had had a tough go of it, empire-wise. He became emperor after his father’s death in 1530, but there were disgruntled parties who sought to place his uncle on the throne. He had the armies of two kings looking to reclaim the territory his father had conquered. His brothers, including Kamran Mirza, betrayed him and fought against him repeatedly. He lost much of his Hindustan territory to the forces of Sher Shah Suri and in 1543 retreated to his brother’s lands in what is today Afghanistan. Again his brother was less than supportive, leaving Humayun to seek refuge in Persia where Shah Tahmasp welcomed him with open arms and gave him the royal treatment.
When in 1545 Kamran offered to give Shah Tahmasp Kandahar in exchange for his brother’s body, dead or alive, Tahmasp refused and instead gave Humayun military support against his traitorous older brother. Mahin Banu played a major role in establishing this alliance. Tahmasp had threatened to kill Humayun at one point if he didn’t convert from Sunni to Shi’a Islam, but Mahin Banu convinced her brother to support the Mughal emperor in his attempts to reclaim his territories.
Humayun took Kandahar and Kabul, lost them (he was an awful battlefield general), took them again, and ultimately in 1555 reclaimed Hindustan in large part thanks to the thousands of Persian troops Tahmasp had loaned him. Finally returned to the Mughal throne in Delhi, Humayun invited the Persian artists and craftsmen to do for his empire what he had seen them do during the months he spent traveling in Persia and becoming enamoured with its art and architecture. The Persian influence on Mughal art would long outlast his reign.
We know that Mahin Banu still owned the grape dish when she died in 1562 because there’s a circular cartouche (vaqf) on the base of the plate that identifies it as having been donated to the Shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth of the Twelve Imams, in Mashhad, as a pious gift. It reads: “Endowed to the Razavid Shrine, By Mahin Banu, the Safavid (princess).” According to 16-17th century chronicler Qazi Ahmad-e Qomi, all of her jewels and her porcelain collection were endowed to the shrine which she had been a dedicated patron of in life.
The next time the Mahin Banu Grape Dish appears on the historical record is at the Mughal court of Shah Jahan in 1643. Even though Mughal history intersected with Safavid Persia during the period of Mahin Banu’s ownership of the dish and even though she was so closely involved in her brother’s dealings with Humayun, the Ming vessel did not make its way to Agra through the kind of diplomatic channels that had directed 34 camels’-worth of precious objects to Selim II.
So how did the grape dish make its way from a holy shrine to Shah Jahan 80 years later? Probably as war booty that was then traded. The Shrine of Imam Reza was sacked by the Uzbek troops of Abdolmomen Khan in 1590. They picked it clean of all its many treasures, and 17th century Safavid court historian Eskandar Beyg specifically mentions “Chinese vessels” being among the precious objects stolen by the Uzbek soldiers who traded them amongst themselves “for the price of cheap ceramic shards.” Mashhad was reconquered by Shah Abbas I, grandson of Shah Tahmasp, in 1598. (Related factoid: there is only one collection of blue-and-white Ming porcelain from the Safavid dynasty still in Iran today, and it’s that of Shah Abbas I, on display in the National Museum in Tehran.)
It was probably during this period before Jahan acquired the piece that someone tried to erase the vaqf from the bottom of the dish. The inscription marked the vessel as having been endowed to the shrine. Owning it was a violation of Islamic law. Knowing that religiously observant buyers would not purchase the piece because of that, whoever was trying to unload it tried to scratch off the vaqf. Abrasion marks marred the surface, but the inscription was too deep to destroy it completely.
Instead it seems they came up with another cunning plan: cover it up. There are mysterious drill marks on the bottom of the plate that could have been used to add a mount that obscured the incriminating markings. Also, Shah Jahan inscribed his name and the year the dish was acquired on the outer edge of the foot ring. Other Shah Jahan plates have his inscription on the base, which strongly suggests there was something attached down there that made it necessary to move the standard position.
After that, there are no more handy inscriptions on the dish that might illuminate its travels back west. Sotheby’s has a lovely map tracking its known movements like unto Indiana Jones in Raiders which indicates it stopped in Quebec in the late 19th century, but this stop is not referenced in the provenance information. It goes from Shah Jahan to an art dealer in New York and thence into the hands of Alastair Bradley Martin’s and his wife Edith Park Martin’s Guennol Collection in 1967. They loaned it to museums for many years and are now selling it. The pre-sale estimate is $2.5 – 3.5 million. Considering the unbelievably rich history of the piece, its unique version of the grape pattern, its beautiful condition and the sheer madness of the Chinese antiquities market right now courtesy of lots of newly minted Chinese billionaires keen to reclaim cultural heritage scattered by war, trade, looters and time, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that estimate was left in the dust.
The Aethelmearc Gazette reports that a final proposal to create an omnibus peerage for all martial arts under the purview of the Earl Marshal, with the exception of rattan and rapier, was submitted to the Board of Directors today. To read more about the proposal including where to find its full text, see the article at the Aethelmearc Gazette.
Filed under: Archery, Equestrian, Thrown Weapons
Duchess Tessa the Huntress announced that the final proposal for the creation of an omnibus peerage for all martial arts under the purview of the Earl Marshal, with the exception of rattan and rapier, was submitted to the Board of Directors of the SCA today. An earlier request had been made for space on the agenda for the April board meeting, pending submittal of the proposal. The meeting will be held on April 18 in Covington, KY in the Kingdom of the Middle. More information on attending the meeting can be found here.
The proposal for the new peerage was created by a multi-Kingdom steering committee, with input from the 850+ member Martial Peerage Facebook group. The proposed name for the peerage is the Order of Valiance, with a proposed badge as seen at right.
The full text of the proposal can be found here.
Anyone interested in writing in support of this proposal can contact the Board at email@example.com.
Master Philip the Pilgrim has launched The Midrealm Gazette. If you are interested in reading the news from the Midrealm, you can find their Gazette here. They are also on Twitter and Facebook.
Filed under: Announcements Tagged: Midrealm
It is with great sadness that the Gazette reports that Master Kali Harlansson of Gotland passed away on March 12, 2015 after a long illness. Kali was well known for his gifts as a story teller and was a beloved member of the Barony of Carolingia. “Tell us a story, Uncle Kali” was the frequent request as people would sit at his feet and wait for him to speak.
“I remember Kali Harlansson as a warm, humorous, gentle and courteous man,” wrote Countess Elspeth. “So courteous, and gentle, that he, being very tall, would usually drop to his knees, with a grin and a twinkle in his eye, so that we could converse at an equal level. I always found this charming, and when I was in a position to do so, I presented Kali Harlansson with my Queens Order of Courtesy.”
Kali was best known for his story-telling and for this work was made a Companion of the Laurel by Their Majesties Kelson and Geneviere. “Kali had the gift of breathing life into stories that were a thousand years old,” wrote Master Alexsandr Yevsha. “When he told a section of an Edda or a Saga it was a fresh as this season’s television. When he talked about ancient political rivalries he made them as captivating as any modern political scandal”.
Kali shared his gift for words, wry sense of humor and deep love of history in the All That column that he wrote for the Carolingian Miniscule and can still be accessed on here. He taught and encouraged others, formally and informally. Mistress Gwendolyn of Middlemarch remembered his engaging and amusing lectures at the Carolingian Medieval Universities, in particular “Conjugation: The Verb and You” in which he illustrated the verb “to nibble” with small squeaking mice.
Over the years, Kali performed in and directed many plays in the SCA. He was Oberon in the first full length Shakespearean production staged in Carolingia in 1982. Twenty-one years later, he performed again in Midsummer Night’s Dream as Bottom. Baron Fergus MacRae, who directed him in the latter production, remembered Kali as an actor who was “a wonderful man to work with who always brought a warmth to rehearsal and unexpected depths to his roles.”
Kali supported the East through his work in the seneschalate also. He served as seneschal of the Barony of Carolingia and the Canton of the Towers, as well as Central Region Deputy Seneschal. “When I was elected seneschal,” said Mistress Catrin o’r Rhyd For, “one of the first things I did was talk to Kali. He generously shared his time and experience. Whenever I needed advice, he was always there with his gentle bits of wisdom and keen observations.”
Early in his SCA career Kali became thegn to then Master Vissevald, along with Johan von Traubenberg and Kobayashi Yutaka. This proved to be two more than Master Vissevald’s lady wife was willing to keep straight, so she addressed them all as “Thegn 1A”. While this was the cause of some confusion for others, it was oddly true that the thegns themselves always knew which one she was addressing.
Master Steffan of Silverwing put words to the loss felt by so many Easterners in this way. “In the early days, although he probably didn’t know it, and would have been surprised by it, he was a mentor to me just by being who he was, an example of How to Be in the world, around other people.”
Kali is survived by his wife, Mistress Caryl de Trecesson, and his children David and Bethany. Messages of condolence may be left at this website, where the obituary can also be read. Details on the memorial service are not yet available, but requests for notice can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Memorial donations may be made to the American Brain Tumor Association (www.abta.org) or to the Unitarian Universalist Association (www.uua.org).
Filed under: Tidings
You can find the Midrealm Gazette here. They are also on Twitter and Facebook.
Congratulations to Master Philip the Pilgrim and his staff!
April in the High Arctic does not involve showers bringing flowers. It still the dead of winter up there, the water frozen over with ice more than six feet thick. When the Parks Canada-led underwater exploration of the Victoria Strait in search of the two ships from Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 voyage to find the fabled northwest passage discovered the wreck of the HMS Erebus last year, it was the first week in September. The 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition began in mid-August. They found the wreck three weeks later using side-scan sonar and a remotely operated underwater vehicle. After that they only had two days to dive to the wreck before storms came in, the temperatures dropped below freezing and the summer diving season came to an abrupt end.
Now that the Erebus has been found, this year’s expedition will be able to focus on diving the wreck site, but that tiny window of less than a month of above-freezing temperatures can’t quench the Canadian government’s thirst to explore the shipwreck. Researchers want to get back to the Erebus as soon as possible to explore it more thoroughly before artifacts are damaged by the elements or any putative looters with Bond-villain levels of equipage. Canada’s government and military want to get the show on the road “to assert Canada’s sovereignty over its northernmost regions, demonstrate the ability to operate in the harsh environment in remote areas of the High Arctic, and enhance its capability to respond to any situation in Canada’s North.” That’s a quote from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s press release announcing that this year the diving will begin in April.
Winter dives are, it goes without saying, hugely dangerous. They require heavy equipment to cut through the ice sheet, specialized diving gear including an umbilical to provide air and communication lines, extensive supplies, emergency medical services and lots and lots of training. It’s not something Parks Canada’s underwater archaeologists can handle on their own, so for nine weeks they’ve been working with expert ice divers from the Royal Canadian Navy’s Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic. Parks Canada divers and the Navy divers have been training together so that the former can learn how to dive safely in below-freezing water under a sheet of ice that’s at least six feet thick (a terrifying practice known as confined space diving) and the latter can learn how to properly handle an underwater archaeological site and its artifacts.
The logistics are daunting, to say the least. The Navy will establish a divers’ camp on the sea ice in eastern Queen Maud Gulf where more than 50 people will live for the 11 days of the expedition. Those people all have to be fed, housed, fueled and heated. Inuit Rangers will be on the team to handle wayward polar bears and help the camp survive any frigid gales from the North Pole that might assault it. Once the divers’ ice camp is set up, three triangular dive holes with sides two meters (6’7″) long will be made in the ice sheet with a gas-fired hot water drill. Each hole is expected to take five hours to cut and the blocks of ice they cut out will weigh something in the neighborhood of four tons. Heavy equipment will be needed to haul the ice chunks out of the water.
About two dozen team members will be divers who will go down the hole to explore the wreck site in pairs — one underwater archaeologist, one Navy diver — in shifts over a 12-hour workday. The tasks they will perform include trimming the kelp bed that is obscuring the view of the ship, testing a new laser device that makes 3D scans of the interior of the hull and film/photograph inside the hull with cameras affixed to a pole. Mapping and documenting the wreck is the primary focus, but the team will also come prepared to recover any artifacts they think should be recovered. They won’t be wearing specialized hot water-warmed suits; they’ll be protected from frozen death by thermal underwear, cotton gloves and triple-layered dry suits. In those kinds of temperatures the fingers get creaky very quickly, but if you pile on the layers you can’t use your hands. The solution is short shifts just 50 minutes long. That’s why there are so many divers on the team, to man 12 or so dives a day.
All of this is conditions permitting, of course. Storms over the ice sheet can be brutal and could grind operations to a halt. The thick ice actually seals the sea underneath it keeping it relatively calm in a storm, so divers would actually find good conditions and visibility even in violently unpleasant surface conditions, but obviously their lives are dependent on base operations being uninterrupted so if the weather gets too severe the dives will have to stop.
Before Urban Archaeology (UA) became a manufacturer of tiles, lighting, furnishings, bathroom fixtures, etc. based on period designs it was in the business of salvaging the originals. Even though it’s been decades since the primary focus of the company changed, Urban Archaeology still has thousands of architectural features of illustrious heritage salvaged from historic buildings like the St. Regis Hotel, the Paris department store Bon Marche, the Yale University Library, Place de la Concorde, the Chrysler Building and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
At the end of the month, Guernsey’s auctioneers will be selling 6,000 of these salvage treasures at UA’s Franklin Street office. The auction will be held in two parts, part one on March 27th (catalogue here) and part two the next day (catalogue here). Follow the links to the catalogue entries to bid online.
Although the day one catalogue starts a little dry with pages of duplicate light fixtures, once you get past that hump it’s a wonderland for anyone who enjoys fantasizing about Frankensteining themselves up a house full of vintage features. Look at this enamel cast iron stove made by the Glenwood Stove Company around 1920. It runs on both gas and wood, with four gas burners, two wood burners, one gas oven and one wood-burning oven. Look at the white enamel handles to control the burners. Gorgeous and still in working order. Very useful for zombie apocalypse preparedness. The starting bid is $1,500 and the top estimated sale price is $4,000.
In the more affordable range, how about a 1940s bobsled? It’s handmade, hence the car steering wheel, but by someone who knew what they were doing because that is some quality bobsled construction. It seats four, too, so instant winter party. The high estimate is $500.
If it’s an actual piece of architectural history you’d like, look no further than this Art Deco pendant light from Chrysler Building, icon of Art Deco and of New York City since it was built in 1930. The Chrysler Building’s design is still inspiring artists and architects today. The brass and clouded glass pendant light used to hang over the building’s staircase. The opening bid if $4,000 with a top estimate of $12,000.
You could make practically build yourself a whole Grand Central Station with the spate of architectural features salvaged from iconic Paris department store Bon Marche, including iron balcony railings and curved glass ceiling panels by French Art Deco blacksmith Edgar Brandt. Then you can mix it up by adding two cast iron mermen and one cast iron mermaid made by sculptor Jacques Hittorff in the 1830s for the fountain in the Place de la Concorde. The fountain is still in place in Paris but the sculptures there are replicas. The originals can be yours for just an estimated $150,000 each.
How about a public clock or two to decorate your new gigantor Frankenpalace? I’m partial to this Reed & Stern train clock from Union Station, Troy, NY, made in the early 1900s. It’s made of white terra cotta and glazed in a handsome malachite green. I am completely in love with the locomotive charging out of a tunnel through its own steam cloud above the clockface. I also heart the Karl Flugel iron tower clock from 1878. It used to keep time in a German tower but now stands a new iron base with the mechanical version of its swimsuit area exposed to our fixed stares.
Another architectural gem of illustrious pedigree is these St. Patrick’s Cathedral wrought iron gates made around 1880, possibly by Arts and Crafts decorative ironwork master Samuel Yellin. They were installed at the cathedral’s 51st Street and Madison Avenue corner at the entrance of the baptistery. In the 1980s the baptistery was moved and the gates found a new home at Connecticut museum of master metalsmith Kenneth Lynch. Lynch has decided to donate his museum collection to Xavier High School and is putting the gates up for sale with the proceeds benefitting St. Patrick’s.
If you prefer your entrance areas to have fewer holes in them, consider these gorgeous Art Deco nightclub doors from around 1940. They’re wood painted in a metallic silver and the circular pattern is mesmerizing.
But they’re flimsy little sticks compared to these 1910 brass pocket doors salvaged from the United States Assay Office in lower Manhattan. Not only do they look badass, but they have the badass history to support the look. The doors weigh 1500 pounds each and were used to secure precious metals in the last public gold refinery in the country (it was shut down in 1982, its gold refining duties contracted out to private concerns, the building and its fixtures sold at auction in 1983). Until the day it was shut down, the Assay Office and its sturdy doors protected 4,140 bags of gold coins confiscated from the Nazis in World War II and more than 100,000 28-pound gold bars. Even the horse-drawn cart bomb that exploded in the Financial District on September 16, 1920, killing 38 people, injuring hundreds and taking large chunks that are still visible on some of the building facades couldn’t scratch these doors.
Seeing catalogues like this ignites the secret hoarder within me. No I cannot have enough cast iron planters, large Art Deco skylight ceiling panels and train station clocks, thank you very much. I DON’T CARE IF WE HAVE NO PLACE TO PUT THEM.
1) The polypropylene rod must be 1.25” in diameter.
Type A: co-polymer 7823, also known as pro-fax 7823 from McMaster-Carr.
My thanks to everyone who helped with the testing and tracking of the test results. Especially to Duke Malcolm MacEoghainn, my experiemental deputy for the above wording.
The organizers of this year's Children's Fete are seeking volunteers to assist with, and to sponsor, activities.
Archaeologists excavating the Danube Market location of Regensburg, Bavaria, have discovered the charred remains of two pretzels, three bread rolls and a croissant that date to the 18th century. Radiocarbon dating placed the baked goods to between 1700 and 1800, but historical research suggests they were made in the second half of the century. While very ancient bread products have survived thanks to charring — Herculaneum leaps to mind — these are the oldest pretzels ever found.
The Danube Market site has been a rich source of archaeological finds. The waterlogged soil next to the river has preserved a swath of history that would otherwise have decayed, like the remains of wooden house that is 1,200 years old (the only Carolingian home ever found in Bavaria), a medieval place of execution and a wooden jetty that is at least 1,100 years old.
The site was excavated between 2012 and 2014 to thoroughly explore its archaeological layers before construction of the Museum of the Bavarian History to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Free State of Bavaria in 2018. Archaeologists found the bakery goodies in the remains of a house that once stood at number 3 Hunnenplatz which was demolished in 1964 along with much of the neighborhood. City archives indicate that the house at 3 Hunnenplatz was bought by one Johann Georg Held, a master baker, in 1753. He used it as his shop for years. The house remained a bakery for more than a century even as it passed through different hands. The last known baker to reside there was Karl Schätz in 1881.
Archaeologists believe the pretzels, rolls and croissant were burnt to a crisp under Held’s tenure, probably part of a tray of failed baked goods that were thrown away. They were found in a waste pit dug into the soil in the corner of the house. Once dumped into the pit, the charred breads were covered with soil. With the moisture firmly burned out of them and the soil they were buried in low in oxygen, the discarded pretzels and friends survived intact for 250 years and now Mr. Held’s trash is our treasure.
There are many origin stories for the pretzel with Italy and France in the running as the starting point as well as Germany. Whichever country it was in, it was likely a monastery kitchen that baked the first pretzels in the early Middle Ages. The looped form of the pretzel was said to be inspired by the crossed arms of monks, and a simple flour and water pretzel became a traditional Lent food since Catholics were forbidden from eating eggs and dairy. By the 12th century pretzels were firmly ensconced in the secular culture of southern Germany where the pretzel was the symbol of bakers and bakery guilds. Pretzels were a special issue in the beginning, baked and sold on Saturdays only. In 1532 that changed when the Duke of Bavaria ordered all bakers to make and sell pretzels daily.
The baked goods are now on display at the Historical Museum of Regensburg.
An Announcement from Master Padraig MacEanruig, East Kingdom Pennsic Warlord/Une annonce de Maitre Padraig MacEanruig, Seigneur de Guerre du Royaume de l’Est à Pennsic
An announcement from Master Padraig MacEanruig, East Kingdom Pennsic Warlord
Greetings all, after consulting with Their Royal Highnesses I am pleased to be able to announce the chivalric advisor and co-captains of this years Eastern Unbelted Team. They are Sir Alex as advisor, and as captains, Lord Harald Hokonson and Lord Tiernan MacAlpine. Although the format has yet to be decided for this upcoming war, they will help the Chivalric advisor and myself prepare a strong and chivalrous team.
Une annonce de Maitre Padraig MacEanruig, Seigneur de Guerre du Royaume de l’Est à Pennsic:
Bonjour à tous,
Après avoir consulté leurs Altesses Royales, je suis heureux de pouvoir annoncer qui seront le conseiller chevaleresque et les co-capitaines de l’équipe Sans-Ceinture de l’Est pour cette année. Ils sont Sire Alex comme conseiller, et comme capitaines, Seigneur Harald Hokonson et Seigneur Tiernan MacAlpine. Quoi que le format de la guerre à venir reste encore à être choisi, ils aideront le conseiller et moi-même à préparer une forte équipe chevaleresque.
The Gazette thanks Mórag filia Scayth for translation services.
Filed under: Announcements, En français, Heavy List, Pennsic Tagged: Pennsic, unbelts
The Ducks of the Barony of Andubhaigeainn are excited to announce this year’s annual Spring Schola and Feast in Huntington, NY, inspired by a visit to the Sorbonne in the 13th Century. Learn to cook the “local” cuisine, take classes in various artistic and scientific endeavors. Schola Classes Our Friendly Neighbors in Lions End had their Schola just four short weeks prior, and many of their classes were PART I. Come on out to the Ducky Domain for the PART II’s. Please see the event announcement on the East Kingdom website or SCADucks.org for more details on the classes. Some classes are RSVP dependent so the instructor can have enough materials on hand. Some classes have a materials fee. There is a track especially for youth and there are many, many classes that do not require that you completed a PART I in Lion’s End. Baronial Championships Baronial Bardic Champion Eanraig MacEanraig and Baronial Arts and Sciences Champion Lady Saruke thugater Elmanos will be stepping down after a long hard winter, choosing new Bardic and Arts & Sciences Champions. All are invited and encouraged to participate in these annual competitions that welcome Spring’s beauty back into the lands of our Barony. The rules of both contests can be found on the event announcement on the East Kingdom website. Garb Sale We have an over abundance of “Gold-Key” or Loaner Garb. In order to help cut down on the extra, there will be a display and SALE of many pieces. Please contact the Autocrat with any questions. Populace Badge A badge for the people, by the people. Try out your badge designing skills to help come up with ideas for the An Dubhaigeainn populace badge!
Lady Violet Hughes has a few ideas to suggest, and can help you with sources for inspiration and rules for how it all goes together. This is not a formal class, and Violet will be available all day long. Feast and Dayboard There will be a delectable dayboard and a fantastic feast prepared by our own Lady Vetra with assistance from those participating in the Feast Creation Class. The feast will be served after the Spring Court of Baron David and Baroness Suzanne.
Filed under: Events
A Kingdom for a Stage is just a few weeks away on March 28, A.S. XLIX, and there are very fun things happening at the event that you won’t want to miss!
The Bardic Bear Pit
The Brag Off
The Bad Bards Room
Did I mention Food? The will be an all day sideboard prepared by Drotinn Jorundr hinn Rotinn, with a very secret theme.
There will be a performance by the Debatable Choir, and there is space for others to perform in areas around the site throughout the day.
We also have room for Bardic-related classes. If you are interested in teaching or holding a discussion on a bardic-related class, e-mail Baron Liam.
The event will take place at the Lodge at North Park (no street number) North Ridge Drive, Allison Park, PA 15101. North Ridge drive is directly across from the North Park Skating Rink.
Reservations for this day can be sent to Lady Hara Kikumatsu, 246 Whipple Street, Pittsburgh PA 15218.
Prices: (all prices include dayboard)
Make checks payable to “SCA-PA Inc. – Debatable Lands.” The $5 Non-Member Surcharge shall be collected at the door from adults not presenting proof of membership.
So come and join us for a day of Bardic Arts and Fun!
Please describe your job responsibilities.
My very visible task is to run the Crown Tournament of the King and Queen twice a year. I am also responsible for running the King and Queen’s Champions Tournaments for Heavy Rattan Combat and Period Rapier. “Running” means that I check all fighter and rapier authorizations to make sure that everyone is safe and playing within the rules of the East Kingdom. I am also the scorekeeper and historian for each tournament. I keep track of who has won what bouts and who moves on to the next round of the tournament.
Behind the scenes is a much busier place. All rattan fighters and rapier fighters are required to authorize in different weapons forms. They are also required to sign a waiver to participate in practices and tournaments in the East Kingdom. I am the person that keeps track of all of those waivers and weapons forms. I, along with my database deputy, update a central database roughly once a month, that allows all marshals and MOLs (local minister of lists) to do their jobs efficiently.
What do you enjoy about this activity?
Do you have a goal for your term?
Are you currently looking for any deputies?
What was your first event? And what made you stay?
Which people made an impact on you in the SCA and why?
The first was Duchess Avelina Keyes. She was the first person that my husband and I made contact with in the Society. She was welcoming and encouraged our enthusiasm for archery and “All the things”. She made sure that we felt welcome and at home.
The second and third great SCA influences were Baroness eLeri of Concordia of the Snows and Baroness Lily of the same. These ladies were having so much fun running tournaments! They loved every minute that they spent behind an MOL table. I couldn’t help but fall in love with them both and want to spend more time doing what they were doing and spend it with them. I am so grateful that I was able to spend the time that I did with eLeri. She showed me what it was to have a true love of service to the people of the East.
Filed under: Interviews Tagged: Mistress of Lists
The Court of our most excellent prince and lord, Edward, by right of arms most illustrious King of the East, third of that name, and Thyra, his Queen by agency of that same right, second of that name, held upon 1 March in the forty-ninth year of the Society upon the fields of the Estrella War; on which day were called all and sundry the lords of the realm and the great persons of the kingdom to hear the following publicly proclaimed:
Their Majesties called before them the following good and noble gentles and inducted them into the Company of the Pennon of the East, the which Company had formerly been known as the Tyger of the Foreign Legions, it being a gift of the Crown for those honored persons who support the East Kingdom at events held in another Kingdom:
• Matthias Grunwald
I, Alys Mackyntoich, Eastern Crown Herald, wrote this to memorialize and make certain all such things that were done and caused to be done as above stated.
Filed under: Court
- by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
This castle looks like it would be entirely at home in Europe, but it’s actually situated in the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands, aka Pittsburgh, PA.
Many gentles from the western portions of Æthelmearc are familiar with the castle of Sir Byron of Haverford and Sir Ariella of Thornbury through their generosity in offering it as a site for occasional events in the Debatable Lands. For those who have never seen the castle, we offer you a photographic tour and encourage you to attend an event or practice there. The next one will be the Regional Archery Muster on Sunday, April 12, which is the day after the Coronation of TRH Timothy and Gabrielle.
For many years, Byron and Ariella dreamed of a home that reflected their interest in late 14th century England. They began planning for their castle in 1998. In 2002, they took their architect with them to England, where they visited the castle they had chosen as their model, Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, to look at how it was designed and constructed.
Byron and Ariella explained, “One of the major goals in constructing this castle was maintaining historical accuracy. We used Bodiam castle as a model in part because the entire castle was built at one time. Most castles were built over centuries, with elements ranging from the Norman invasion to the Tudor period. These different styles make it difficult to maintain a consistent style of construction in reproductions.”
Originally, there was only a manor house at Bodiam. Then, due to the impending invasion of French forces in 1385, King Richard III granted Sir Edward Dalyngrigge a license to “strengthen and crenellate” the manor house at Bodiam, and “to construct and make thereof a castle in defense of the adjacent countryside and for resistance against our enemies.” However, instead of fortifying the manor, Edward decided to build a new castle near the River Rother, where any attack would most likely have occurred. Bodiam Castle was completed between 1385-1389. Sir Byron and Sir Ariella requested and received a similar license to crenellate their castle from King Malcolm and Queen Tessa of Æthelmearc.
After returning home to the Debatable Lands from their trip to England, they had architectural plans developed to match those period elements as much as possible, while also providing a comfortable home for a family with growing children as well as complying with local building codes. They also engaged Master Johan von Traubenberg to provide a historically accurate design for the post and beam columns that support and frame the Great Hall.
“The castle is divided into “period sections” and “modern sections”, so that we can suspend our disbelief when we want to, but still live comfortably.” Their Excellencies said. “The appearance of the construction and all of the furnishings within the period sections of the house have been researched and are documentable within 50 years of 1385AD in Great Britain.”
Another decision Their Excellencies had to make was how authentic they could afford to be in the construction of their castle. They explained, “There are two basic philosophies of castle reconstruction: authenticity of style, and authenticity of materials. Ideally, one would have authenticity of both style and materials, but that is prohibitively expensive. We have chosen authenticity of style as our primary goal.”
Construction began in the fall of 2004 with the clearing of the land, followed by pouring of the foundation the following spring.
By the fall of 2005, work could begin on the interior. The exterior of the castle was completed in the spring of 2006.
Their Excellencies were also very exacting in their requirements for the interior of the castle. They chose lighting to look like sconces, and special-ordered the interior and exterior wood doors from England. The main entrance features a portcullis (non-lowerable, alas, for safety reasons) and “murder holes” accessible from the 2nd floor laundry room. Their Excellencies’ three children have been known to drop ping pong balls through the murder holes on entering visitors, which most guests take in good sport.
While the windows at the front of the castle are small to simulate arrow loops, the windows at the back of the castle along the Great Hall are large to let in lots of light.
The fireplace wall has a diapered floral pattern and a motto in Latin that translates as “I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me.”
Though the upper floor of the castle is reserved for the family’s private living quarters, it is used as changing rooms or classrooms at events. The musicians’ gallery opposite the fireplace is frequently employed for performances by the Debatable Choir and Consort. Another gallery along the adjacent wall makes a good vantage point for watching people in the Great Hall below.
Around the time the castle was being completed, Byron and Ariella also gained new responsibilities when they were elected Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands. They served in that position from May of A.S. XLII to August of A.S. XLVI. While ruling the Barony, they hosted numerous smaller events at their castle, which they have continued to do since stepping down as Baron and Baroness in 2011.
Gentles especially enjoy using the castle for archery, both from the western side of the castle at ground level at traditional Royal Round and Gwyntarian Winter Challenge targets…
You can learn more about the castle by visiting Their Excellencies’ website at http://www.pitt.edu/~caram/castleindex.htm
REGIONAL ARCHERY MUSTER
The castle is Their Excellencies’ private home, so please do not show up unannounced. However, Their Excellencies welcome guests at regularly planned events and practices. If you would like to visit the castle, we encourage you to attend the Regional Archery Muster on Sunday, April 12th, A.S. XLIX, which is being organized by Master Urho Waltterinen.
When: Sunday, April 12, 10am – 5pm
By the kind generosity of their Excellencies, Sir Byron and Sir Ariella, we will once again have a regional archery practice open to all at the Castle on Sunday, April 12th. This is the day following Æthelmearc Coronation. We will begin at 10:00 in the morning and continue until 5:00 that afternoon.
We will be joined by Thrown Weapons, Youth Combat, and Arts & Sciences.
One of the goals of this practice is to allow people to shoot their last rounds for the Gwyntarian Winter Challenge which closes a few days later. We would like to conduct this as our morning project and leave the afternoon for everything else, although the range will be open all day.
We will have novelty targets and anything that we can think of that is safe to shoot at. Space permitting and marshal availability, there may be some individual training. Of course, we will have archery from the Castle parapets. His Lordship Deryk Archer has been challenged again.
The Barony-Marche loaner gear will be available.
Food will be pot luck. You are encouraged to bring hot and cold meals, side dishes, desserts, and snacks as you wish. Try out something new – we’re all hardy souls. Plates, cups, utensils and soft drinks will be provided.
Their Excellencies ask that everyone wear garb for the day.
This is not an event; it is an “enhanced practice.”
Please contact Master Urho Waltterinen with any questions and requests.
- All photos courtesy of Sir Byron and Sir Ariella.
The construction of the high-speed Crossrail train line in London has generated the UK’s largest archaeological project. So far more than 10,000 artifacts spanning 55 million years of history have been unearthed at more than 40 worksites over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the city. This week, archaeologists from the Museum of London Archeaology (MOLA) began to excavate the burial ground of Bethlehem Hospital, aka Bedlam, next to the Liverpool Street railway station. While the hospital building began life as a priory in 1247, it was seized by the crown in the 1370s and by the early 1400s was detached from its religious roots and administered by the City of London as a hospital for the mentally ill.
This burial ground, known as the New Churchyard, was built in 1569 and was in use until at least 1738, spanning some prime years for death in London: the English Civil War, the Great Plague of 1665 (and three other major outbreaks of Bubonic plague) and the Great Fire of 1666. Unaffiliated with any parish church, it was London’s first municipal burial ground. When the hospital itself moved to a new facility in Moorfields in 1676, the New Churchyard continued to be used as an overflow cemetery during mass death events, by people who could not afford or did not want (for religious or political reasons) a church burial.
A single trial pit dug in 2011 found more than 100 skeletons, and preliminary surveys in 2013 and 2014 found more than 400. Archaeologists predict there are at least 3,000 individuals buried on this site and they plan to unearth them all over the next few weeks. The excavation is going on while the eastern entrance of the new Liverpool Street Crossrail station is being built, so surrounded with the noise and vibration of heavy construction, the MOLA team of 60 archaeologists will work in two shifts six days a week to dig through layer upon layer of skeletal remains. Right now they’ve dug down about a meter into the topmost layer and they’re finding individual burials were stacked on top of previous ones. When the wooden coffins decayed, the human remains pancaked downwards. Separating these bones pressed into each other over centuries is an arduous task, and they haven’t even gotten to the plague pits and mass graves in the lower layers.
The skeletons will be excavated over the next four weeks. The remains will be moved the MOLA laboratory for osteological examination and tests that will hopefully determine diet, work, demographics, geographic origin, sex, medical history and more of the thousands of people interred at Bedlam. Archaeologists hope that tests on plague victims will provide a new understanding of how the plague pathogen moved through the early modern population.
Jay Carver, Crossrail Lead Archaeologist said: “This excavation presents a unique opportunity to understand the lives and deaths of 16th and 17th century Londoners. The Bedlam burial ground spans a fascinating phase of London’s history, including the transition from the Tudor-period City into cosmopolitan early-modern London. This is probably the first time a sample of this size from this time period has been available for archaeologists to study in London. The Bedlam burial ground was used by a hugely diverse population from right across the social spectrum and from different areas of the City.”
Identification of any of the remains is unlikely, to dramatically understate the case. Since the Bedlam burial ground didn’t keep its own records of who was buried there, 16 volunteers enlisted to scour the records of parish churches who made a note when parishioners were buried at “Bedlam” or “New Churchyard.” Archaeologists also appealed to the public for any family records, lore or anecdotes that might illuminate the history of the cemetery.
Here’s a video of researchers digging through the church registers at the London Metropolitan Archives. Keep your eye open for the “New Churchyard” annotations on the records.
When that video was shot, Jay Carver said they expected to find about 1,000 relevant burial records which would be used to help interpret the archaeological data from the dig and be compiled in a single database and made available to the public for genealogical or other research. Well, they left that already lofty goal in the dust. The final tally of names and histories of individuals buried at Bedlam cemetery was more than 5,000, an incredible accomplishment that testifies loudly to the dedication of the volunteers and the phenomenal record-keeping of 16th and 17th century churches and the London Metropolitan Archives.
According to the research Dr John Lamb (also known as Lam or Lambe), an astrologer and advisor to the First Duke of Buckingham, is among those buried at the site. Lamb was said to have been stoned to death by an angry mob outside a theatre in 1628 following allegations of rape and black magic. Others identified in the research include victims of riots by ‘Fanatiques,’ noted in the diaries of Samuel Pepys in January 1661.
Plague was the most common listed form of death, followed by infant mortality and consumption. The burial ground was established in 1569 to help parishes cope with overcrowding during outbreaks of plague and other epidemics. Crossrail workers recently discovered the gravestone of Mary Godfree who died in September 1665, as a result of the ‘Great Plague’ which peaked that year.
Once the skeletons are fully excavated, the MOLA team will continue to dig down through the medieval marsh and lost Walbrook River to the Roman layer. Tunnelers installing utility cables 20 feet below the surface in 2013 encountered Roman artifacts and human remains. The Liverpool Street excavation is scheduled to finish in September after which construction on the station will begin on the site. The human remains will be reburied after they are studied.
by Gun∂ormr Dengir and Eleanor Catlyng
As the end of the reign of our Majesties Edward and Thyra approaches, we have started work on a scroll to commemorate their reign. The pattern is that of a Mortuary Roll. These were sent upon the death of an Abbot, Prioress or other high-ranking member of a religious community to other, related houses. The roll began with an obituary for the deceased and then, upon arrival, each house added a short, usually formulaic, prayer. These begin with the place name, introduced with the word “Titulus”, and then proceed to offer a prayer for the deceased. In some cases, they then tack on the names of deceased members of their houses, with the admonition “When praying for them, please also remember ours”. The final scroll, in some cases more than 10 meters long, then returned to the original house with a complete record of its travels.
One titulus, that of Notre Dame in Watten, from the roll for Abbot Foulques of Corbie with the title line of the following one, for St. Omer. Despite Folques having died in 1095, the roll probably dates to about 1106. (BNF Latin 11636, f.208v)
Using this pattern, we are constructing a memorial roll for the soon-to-be-former King and Queen. A modified text has been written to use as a skeleton for the Tituli. In addition to asking for prayers for the soul of the dead, we’re remembering the wisdom, deeds or fame of those who have left us for other lands or those whose deeds inspire words and songs that travel the world.
The goal is to represent as many of the Baronies, Shires and Cantons of this and even other kingdoms to with contributed Tituli, adding any members from their local community whom they wish to celebrate. Where possible we are working with resident scribes, but the fates are harsh mistresses and the end of the reign draws nigh. Therefore we’re hoping to have other local groups contribute names to be remembered, with the Titulus added by whichever scribes may dedicate themselves to this work.
As such, those who wish to contribute one for remembrance, should submit information here.
We shall arrange a scribe to record your memorial, provided that we receive your contribution by the 22nd of March.
Those who may wish to lend their hand to the project as a scribe are also welcome to submit their interest here. One does not need to be a well practiced scribe, as those who laid letters historically also ranged in skill, but a willingness to learn the appropriate hand for this project is necessary.
Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Court Tagged: Calligraphy and Illumination, Edward and Thyra
From the EK Seneschal about Tir Mara/De la part du Seneschal du Royaume de l’Est, à propos de Tir Mara
The following is posted at the request of the East Kingdom Seneschal.
After much thought and conversation I am pleased to announce the selection of Baroness Allessandra Francesca di Milano as the regional Seneschal for Tir Mara. She and I will be working together to continue Tir Mara’s vital place in the East Kingdom.
Please feel free to contact her at Tirmaraseneschal@gmail.com.
Yours, In Service to the East,
Mercedes Vera de Calafia
Ce qui suit est annoncé à la demande du Seneschal du Royaume de l’Est.
Après beaucoup de réflection et de discussions, je suis heureuse d’annoncer la sélection de Baronne Allessandra Francesca di Milano en tant que Seneschal régional pour Tir Mara. Nous allons travailler ensemble afin de maintenir et continuer la place vitale que Tir Mara a dans le Royaume de l’Est.
N’hésitez pas à la contacter à Tirmaraseneschal@gmail.com
Bien à vous, au Service de l’Est,
Mercedes Vera de Calafia
The Gazette thanks Lady Frenya Thorsteinndottir for translation services.
Filed under: En français, Official Notices Tagged: seneschal, Tir Mara