Countess Marguerite, reporting.
This reporter is standing at Gulf War Opening ceremonies where the Peace Negotiations between Trimaris and Ansteorra have broken down. In an egreegious display of temper the King of Ansteorra Lachlann kicked grass on the shoes of the King Kurn of Trimaris. It looks like there will be War. The East has allied with Trimaris.
There was much entertaining banter during the declaration. Calontir declared for Ansteorra after receiving from them amazing largess (Large S). Athelmaerc declared their sides after inspecting the jewels of both crowns and deciding it was better in Trimaris.
En francais par Behi Kirsa Oyutai
Nous sommes présentement à la cérémonie d’ouverture de Gulf War, où les négociations de paix entre le Royaume de Trimaris et Ansteorra sont au point mort. Dans un flagrant mouvement de colère, le Roi d’Ansteorra Lachlann a donné un coup de pied et couvert de poussière les chaussures du Roi Kurn de Trimaris. Il semblerait que ce sera la guerre. Le Royaume de l’Est s’est allié avec Trimaris.
La déclaration fût marquée par d’amusantes badineries. Le Royaume de Calontir s’est déclaré du côté d’Ansteorra après avoir reçu d’eux d’impressionnantes largesses (Large S). Tant qu’à lui, le Royaume d’Athelmaerc, pour déclarer son alliance, a inspecté les joyaux des deux couronnes opposées, avant de décider que ceux de Trimaris étaient mieux.
Filed under: En français, Events, Tidings
Being royalty in the SCA comes with a number of perks. In Æthelmearc, one of those is the Queen’s Guard. How does the Queen’s Guard work? Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed several past Queens and members of their guards to find out.
What is the Queen’s Guard?
The Queen’s Guard is typically composed of gentles from around the kingdom who engage in one of the many martial arts of the Society and serve the Queen. Heavy weapons, rapier, combat and target archery, thrown weapons, equestrian, siege, even youth combatants have been members of the Queen’s Guard.
How are the Queen’s Guards chosen?
Each Queen uses her own criteria to choose members of her guard, but there are some common rationales among our past Queens.
Duchess Morgen of Rye said, “I looked for people who were enthusiastic and talented in whatever martial art they were pursuing. I tried to include people who represented diversity in martial activities and to include some youth.”
Countess Elena d’Artois explained, “We knew we would be traveling a great deal so we started with a base of two rattan, one rapier, one thrown weapons and one archer in each region. We looked for people who were up and coming and just about ready for one award or another. It was fun to get to know them and then be the ones to bring them up in front of their friends and recognize their excellence. In addition to prowess we also focused on character. We looked for people who were good examples of those qualities we aspire to. Additionally, they had to be people who we trusted to be nearby when discussing things of a delicate nature and not share them outside of the room.”
Countess Elena’s rapier captain, Don Corwyn Montgomery, explained, “In the course of our recruitment, we went with the multiclass characters (to quote D&D) in which we had individuals who participated in armored combat, rapier combat, combat archery, target archery, and thrown weapons.”
Duchess Branwen ferch Gwythyr said, “I wanted to make sure I had people from all regions and from all areas of martial interest, but since I was also planning to fence and to fight, the proportions were going to be a bit different. I was going for something like 1/3 fencers, 1/3 heavies, and 1/3 archers/thrown weapons people/equestrians, and equal groups from all regions.”
Her Grace continued, “I got recommendations from people I knew for the various regions, because during our first reign, I pretty much knew almost no one outside of my own region. Once I had a starting list, I went around and asked them face-to-face as much as I could. I tried to get a good list going during our minority, partly to take pressure off the autocrats at events we attended, and partly so we could have a chance to practice fighting and fencing together before coronation. A few times, I scoped out the field at events we attended and then asked people to join on the spot.”
Duchess Líadain ní Dheirdre Chaomhánaigh commented, “Being that both of my reigns were Pennsic reigns, I did my best to create a large Guard as the burden of service is greater from a time perspective for those serving at Pennsic. I spent a significant amount of time seeking suggestions for possible candidates, as well as observing various martial activities and individual actions to find members for my Guard.”
Duchess Morgen agreed, “For Pennsic, realistically, you need a lot more people. Covering an event is very different than covering morning to night for 10+ days. Fortunately, lots of people are willing to step up to help. Unfortunately, Pennsic can be so crazy, there were many times I wished we could give folks more interesting duties than being on guard during order meetings or teas.”
Countess Kallista Morgunova remarked, “The captains were asked to look for candidates as guards that were new or maybe up and coming or that just wanted to be more involved. We wanted men and women from all areas of martial activities. We looked for people that took the role serious but that wanted to have fun but be part of the pageantry.”
Lord Silvester Burchardt, who will be Captain of the Guard for Princess Gabrielle once she is crowned as Queen, said “I worked with Their Highnesses, Master Tigernach, and Dame Bronwyn to formulate a list of people that each of us thought would be willing, able, and/or interested in being a guard. Some of the choices were to ensure that each of the various martial activities were represented, some were people that we knew enjoyed serving in this capacity, some were people that inspired us personally, and some were people we felt would be inspired themselves by the invitation. Her Highness sends out invitations to as many or as few as pleased Her from that list [and] informs me which have accepted. I’ll be coordinating them mostly through FaceBook and e-mails, but I was fortunate enough to have face-to-face conversations with a few at the regional muster yesterday and hope to have a dress rehearsal/meet and greet at Ice Dragon.”
What does the Queen’s Guard do?
Lord Silvester commented, “The duties of the guards are a combination of figurehead “protectors” and traffic cops. We’re playing a game where we live in an idealized medieval realm where no one would ever even consider doing harm to the Royals, so the concept of “lay down your life” is happily off the table. Setting reality to the side, I feel the guard is still expected to appear to be ready, willing, and able to defend the Queen’s person from harm, even to the point of their very lives. From the perspective of “traffic cop”, we need to control the flow of people coming up to Her Highness or even the Royal Couple so that they don’t get bogged down, while making sure that people who have legitimate business with The Crown get their chance to speak. This is where we will rely heavily on the reign coordinator and head retainer to keep us informed of scheduled audiences, populace free-access sessions, etc.”
Duchess Liadain noted, “They should first and foremost continue to participate in their martial endeavors. At no time did I want someone serving a Guard shift instead of participating in a tournament.”
Duchess Branwen echoed that sentiment: “If we were at a fighting event, and I decided not to be on the field for some reason, I tried to make sure that none of my guards during the battles were people who could be on the field, because I wanted them to be out there fighting if they were able. The same went for tournaments in which archers or thrown weapons people or equestrians might be competing.” She continued, “For court, depending on the court, the shifts were usually shorter, so people could rotate in and out regularly and allow them to sit down. They stood two in front of the dais and two at the back of the hall (if we had enough, if not, just in front of the dais). Part of their job was looking official, and the other part was walking people up, making sure no weapons were on anyone not in fealty to us, and helping people ascend the dais if there were stairs.”
Duchess Liadain added, “Off the field and while on duty it was my expectation that the Guard join me as I travelled throughout the day. They were not to act as ‘retainers,’ carrying items, but with weapon in hand ‘stand guard’ and contribute to setting the stage to create the royal presence. Guards were expected to comport themselves appropriately to their station while on duty, which was generally scheduled in advance by my Captain of the Guard. We also asked that they help assist with assembling/disassembling thrones as well as helping to unload the morning of the event and pack up at the end along with the rest of our retinue.”
Countess Kallista noted, “Before we stepped up, Andreas met with the Captains and discussed expectations. Some were in regards to how court would run others were in regards to my “safety” at events and on the battlefield. In medieval tradition, no live steel within 10 feet of the Queen. Guards were to be aware of the situations that I was in and what I was doing so that if a something strange arose they would be able to deal with it. Mostly the guards were there to make the Kingdom look good. They kept court running smoothly and followed me everywhere. They fought beside me and stepped in when conversations need to be carried out in private or ended.”
According to Duchess Morgen, in court, “Probably the most important things for “the look” is for guard not to fidget. Most important for the guards themselves is to not lock their knees and to get shifted to a new position in court about 10-15 minutes in and then rotate out after 20-30 minutes maximum.”
If the Queen is a heavy fighter or fencer, as so many of Æthelmearc’s Queens have been, members of the Queen’s Guard in those disciplines may also be expected to form a unit that defends and works with her during battles at events like Gulf Wars, War Practice, and Pennsic. This can be an interesting balancing act – if the Guards do their job too well, the Queen doesn’t have much fun.
Duchess Morgen said, “Given that I am a heavy fighter, it was important to have a good number of skilled heavy fighters for the field.”
According to Countess Elena, “My rattan captain, Lord Madison Morai, asked me if I wanted to be safe, or have fun. My answer was to have fun. He worked with the rattan fighters on unit tactics in preparation for Gulf Wars. For one rattan battle we had an all female unit and dove in with enthusiasm. Fortunately for us it was a resurrection battle. We died gloriously and gained some land for our side, but died nonetheless.”
Her Excellency, now a Companion of the White Scarf, also recalls participating in her first fencing battles as Queen: “On the rapier field I was so new that the group we fielded intentionally used me as bait. I was wearing my queens’ white scarf and had amazingly beautiful armor that Doña Sasha had made for me, so as I distracted and intimidated [our opponents], the experienced rapier fighters killed all that came after me.”
Duchess Liadain commented, “As a heavy fighter myself, I always gave my Guards who were heavy fighters leave to join the field with their regular units as I felt this was a greater benefit to both the individual as well as the army. Interestingly enough, most chose to fight with the Queen’s Guard upon the field.”
Duchess Branwen said, “On the field, we worked together, and their job was basically to keep me alive. As I’m sure many of them could tell you, that doesn’t always go as planned, and I never blamed them for that – if I was on the field, I wanted to be on the field.”
Don Corwyn commented, “The guard will be hard pressed to keep up with an energetic queen, whether she is fighting on the field or shopping at Pennsic.”
What does the Captain of the Queen’s Guard do?
Generally speaking, the Captains organize the guards into shifts, advise and train guard members in their duties, and monitor their activities, especially during courts.
Doña Gabrielle de Winter, Captain of Queen Anna Leigh’s Guard, explained, “I am careful to try and be clear in what is expected from the guards — tell them exactly what it is that they need to do, and roll with the punches, because we are all human and we make mistakes. As long as people LOOK like they know what they are doing, people in court are really not going to notice anything.”
Lord Silvester noted, “The Captain of the Queen’s Guard is mostly ceremonial and the rest is about personnel management – scheduling the invited and spontaneous volunteer guards to ensure that Her Majesty doesn’t take a single step without at least one guard within a few feet while also maintaining the security of the royalty room during events, coordinating with the reign coordinator and head retainer to regulate who has access to Her Majesty when and ensuring that all of the guards know the roles expected of them. This is my first time as the Captain of the Guard and I know many of the invitees have never served as guards, so it’ll be a bit of a learning experience for all of us.”
Countess Elena said, “We chose two captains – rattan and rapier. The rattan captain was someone who we wanted to showcase so that he would get better exposure for his leadership and organization. The rapier captain was someone who had “been there, done that” so we had someone who knew many people in the kingdom and had experience in many areas of leadership and excellent organizational skills.”
Don Corwyn said, “I was very fortunate to share the rank of captain with Lord Madison Morai and several guardsmen who rose to the role of lieutenant. Without them, I could not have met the challenge of the duties. With them, we did an amazing job together.” He continued, “The aspect of being captain most do not consider is organizing guard movements for Court and as escort. Anyone who has had experience with stage productions or marching band will relate to planning movements of individuals that seem natural and expound upon the magic of making a medieval moment happen, not only for the populace but also for all of the individuals of the Royal Court, to include the guardsmen themselves.”
Duchess Branwen commented, “Both reigns, I had someone in mind ahead of time for captain. I wanted a separate captain just for the fencing guard, so we had someone to be in charge for training. The captain had to be there 90-100% of the time, or find a capable stand-in if they couldn’t make it.”
Countess Kallista remarked, “The Queen’s Guards were something Andreas took very seriously. He felt that tradition and propriety should be upheld in regards to guarding His Queen and Kingdom. When choosing a captain we looked for people that were loyal to the Kingdom and the traditions of the SCA.”
Duchess Morgen noted, “The captain needs to be someone close enough to you to work well with [you], and who can be organized so that there’s no need to micromanage. It should be an opportunity for a non-peer to have a leadership role. We worked out a system to post four guards for court and one for walking around.”
How do members of the Queen’s Guard benefit from the experience?
Duchess Liadain observed, “I believe that serving on the Queen’s Guard helps individuals foster new relationships, create lasting bonds, [and] learn new skills. Some of my very best friends were guardsmen that I barely knew [at first], but after a year together for a royal reign, [they] became family.”
Countess Kallista commented, “We felt that it was important to give people opportunities to be part of the grand theatre of court and to be able to view things from behind the scenes. Guards also get to experience things that many people in the SCA don’t normally encounter or are even aware of.” She added, “They were loyal and funny, strong and brave, and made me smile when I just wanted to cry. The hardest part of stepping down was releasing them. To this day many will step back into their role and I will find myself shadowed by or standing shoulder to shoulder with a dear friend that once wore a guard’s baldric.”
According to Duchess Branwen, “[Guards] get to know other people in the guard, and get to see what being part of a reign is like. I think it builds Kingdom community. It’s very easy to only know people in your home group. Being part of a guard means that you’ll hopefully meet people from all over. It [also] potentially gets you exposure. I wouldn’t treat it as a way of getting awards; for one thing, when I’ve been on the throne, I’ve tried to avoid giving awards to people for whom that’s an obvious goal. I’d rather see people do things that they enjoy because they enjoy them, and recognize that. However, it’s definitely a way that you can get people seen who you feel deserve recognition.”
If you are asked to join the Queen’s Guard, Duchess Branwen said, “I very much recommend being honest about your ability to commit if asked, because it is a guaranteed 5-10 months of being very active. Some people feel that they cannot say no to the Queen, and [that’s not the case].”
Don Corwyn noted, “Consider how many individuals you have seen in the Royal Guard [who] truly threw themselves into the role and went on to do great things. The Royal Guard that is truly devoted to bringing joy to the Queen will find a rewarding relationship that will continue to give long after the reign has ended. Such influences are shared, as evidenced by the rapier enthusiasm that infected Queen Elena to the point that she is now Doña Elena. This was a gift of her Guard, but to her Guard, they consider it a gift to them.”
“Greetings to the Populace of the East,
We are currently in the process of scheduling events and meetings that will take place in the East Kingdom Royal Encampment during Pennsic. In order to ensure that your group gets the time and space that they need, please contact me with your scheduling needs.”
Si vous avez des affaires nécessitant le campement Royal de Royaume de East à Pennsic, veuillez communiquer avec Lady Wentlyanna Bengrek avec votre demande
(traduction par Maîtresse Bess)
Filed under: Announcements, En français, Official Notices, Pennsic
We still have space open for teachers at our Pen vs Sword event on 4/25/15. If you are interested in teaching classes in Rapier, Calligraphy, Illumination or related topics, please consider signing up. (It’s a great way to polish up the class you plan to teach at Pennsic!)
Please contact me by email, email@example.com, or on Facebook at Moniczka Poznanska or Shire of Angels Keep.
Thanks in advance.
In an article on the Athenaeum Hectoris blog, Master Hector of the Black Height, of the Kingdom of Ealdormere, discusses the basics of sonnets and sonnet writing, including rhythm, phrasing and form, in the article Missive to a Young Poet: Sonnets.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. 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
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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!