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Æthelmearc Rocks!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-07-20 09:07

By Dame Aoife Finn

This summer across the country and around the world, people in random communities are sharing a hide and seek art project with complete and unknown strangers, to delight and support one another. A seemingly simple idea has had far reaching consequences. For some, it is a fun game. For some, an act of mindfulness. One participant just last week posted a message on Facebook telling her story, that she suffered with a chronic pain disorder, and had found a little painted stone in a public place with a simple but direct supportive message. That stone interrupted her thoughts of self-harm. You never know who will find your work, or what it might mean to them.

This whole movement, of leaving painted or decorated rocks for others to find, began in memory of two small girls from Oregon, aged 6 and 11. You can read the story of Anna and Abigail here. But it blossomed from there. My own town, Honesdale, PA, participates in a big way, an estimated 10% of the population following the Facebook page. Towns and cities outside the county began to join in. Soon, people traveling began painting and hiding and moving found rocks to other communities, sometimes many hundreds of miles away as they traveled.

As I watched my little town embrace the larger ideal, the sharing of mutual, anonymous delight and art and love for fellow humans that Love Rocks has become, an idea was born. You see, the issue being expressed in the Love Rocks movement is that love never dies. Perhaps your love is for your art, or for your dog, for your favorite shoes, for your past-times, for your kids or spouse or ancestry. Or maybe your love is for the annual vacation you take at Cooper’s Lake Campground in Pennsylvania every year.

One of the biggest acts of love, for lack of a better phrase, that happens every year, is Pennsic. Volunteers, attendees, and merchants from around the globe all come here, to the sponsoring Kingdom of Æthelmearc, to participate in something they love to do with the people they adore, in ways that are difficult to explain to the world. That’s okay, we do it, we work and volunteer and welcome the world because we love it, too. From no kingdom are there more participants and volunteers than here at Pennsic’s home, Æthelmearc, though it’s often a very close race. Thinking about our hard-working kingdom, often dubbed “The Friendliest Kingdom in the Known World,” the idea of Æthelmearc Rocks was born. If folks can leave Love Rocks in Greece, in Paris, in Africa, and on the Great Wall of China, why not at Pennsic? It’s all about our love of the unique community we purposefully create every year at Cooper’s Lake.

Isabelle and Elizabeth Von Halstern model the Æthelmearc Rocks they created to bring to Pennsic. (Photos courtesy of their mother, Duchess Ilish Von Halstern). Rock-painting will be just one activity available at the always-awesome Æthelmearc Children’s Party on Sunday August 6th in Æthelmearc Royal Encampment, from 5:30 to 7:00 PM.

What is Æthelmearc Rocks? It’s two things, actually. It’s an artistic hide and seek game at Pennsic, and it’s a Facebook page dedicated to the game.

Who can play? Anyone who wishes can play. Any age, any interested, any family-friendly message or artwork or sentiment.

How do you play? Anyone who happens upon a decorated rock at Pennsic can relocate that rock, and the hope is that they will be inspired to decorate another rock in family friendly style (children will be playing, too) to hide in whimsical places in plain sight for others to find. Every other part of the game is optional. People are free to keep one or two of their favorite rocks, and should feel free to post selfies with a found rock or hints about new locations. Anyone can create decorated rocks, as many as they want, at any skill level of decoration. Rocks should be placed in public areas only, and should be out of the common footpath to avoid falls. There are no prizes, it’s all about sharing appreciation and art (and bragging rights). For a better description, see the FaceBook page, “Æthelmearc Rocks!

How do you make the Rocks? Rocks may be any easy to carry size, and can be decorated in many different ways from paint to permanent marker to decoupage to incised. You can decorate rocks at home to bring, or paint some at Pennsic while you’re there. Rocks should be weather-resistant enough to stay colorful for the 2 weeks of Pennsic. Many people find acrylic paint an inexpensive medium for their rocks.

We ask two items be included on every rock:

Any skill level of decoration is welcome.

1. As a thank you to the Kingdom of Æthelmearc for hosting Pennsic and its citizens for working so hard every year, please make an Escarbuncle a part of the design in some fashion, large or small. An Escarbuncle looks a lot like an eight armed snowflake (or the Chaos symbol) when big or an asterisk when small. Find an Æthelmearc banner, and you’ll find an Escarbuncle. Other than that, decorate as you wish in some sort of SCA or related historical style, but please keep it PG-13. If you want your rock to live on after Pennsic, a light coat of clear acrylic, polyurethane, or clear nail polish would be a good idea. That rock may travel to other kingdoms!

2. On the back or side of the rock (marker may be easiest), please write “Facebook: Æthelmearc Rocks!” so folks have a chance to look up the game if they don’t know about it and happen upon your decorated treasure. Small rocks may need the word Facebook abbreviated to “FB.”

What happens to the rocks? Most rocks go unsigned, so artists may have posted their works on the FaceBook page as well, hoping to follow their progress from hand to hand. At the end of Pennsic you can leave your rocks in place or take some home. It’s up to you.

These rocks await a clear coat to protect the art from the weather.


Categories: SCA news sites

Mummy in Buddha statue goes to court

History Blog - Wed, 2017-07-19 23:17

Two years ago, a 1,000-year-old statue of the Buddha made headlines when a striking CT scan exposed the mummified monk within. The statue was scanned at a hospital in Amsterdam when it was in the country to take part in the Mummies exhibition at the Drents Museum in Assen, the Netherlands. The exhibition proffered the Buddha statue as an example of the extreme practice of self-mummification, in which Buddhist monks spent years starving and poisoning themselves before having themselves walled into a constricted space to die. If three years later their bodies were found mummified, they were considered to have attained the rank of Buddha and their remains were venerated.

According to the information on the exhibition’s website and labels, the monk sealed in the statue was believed to be Master Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School, aka Zen Buddhism, who died around 1100 A.D. There was no evidence offered in support of this surprisingly specific identification, nor were there any details about who owned the statue. The press materials alluded to this being the first time the statue was allowed to leave China and that it was the only Chinese Buddhist mummy made available for scientific study in the West.

Well, that may all be a big bunch of lies, or at least misinformation of the “Swiss private collection” variety to act as a smokescreen for some very shady dealings in stolen cultural heritage. A lawsuit currently in the Dutch courts presents an entirely different ownership history and identification of the statue and mummy. The plaintiff is the tea-farming mountain village of Yangchun in southeastern Chinese province of Fujian which claims the statue was stolen from a temple there in 1995. The defendant is a Dutch collector, who bought the statue and the human remains it contains in Hong Kong in 1996.

In March of 2015, one of the villagers saw a photograph of the statue on display at the Mummy World exhibition at Budapest’s Natural History Museum. He immediately recognized it as the Zhanggong Patriarch, a statue containing a mummified monk that he and his fellow villagers have venerated for centuries.

The lawyers will argue that according to Dutch law “a person is not allowed to have a known body in their possession,” Holthuis said.

“We also have enough evidence to prove that the statue is indeed the one that was stolen from the temple,” he added.

“The fact that it was sold a few months after it was stolen, that it contains certain texts referring to the name ‘Zhanggong’ and that its dating more or less corresponds to the period that the monk was alive,” were some of the arguments which will be presented, he said.

There are some pictures of it in the temple in 1989, and the village still has the clothes and crown the statue was wearing before the thieves stripped it. The picture alone isn’t as dispositive as you might think because of those clothes and crown. They obscure some of the identifying detail of the statue which has been displayed without its traditional accessories in the mummies exhibitions.

According to centuries of village tradition, the statue contains the remains of a monk named Zhang who moved to the village with his mother when he was a boy during the Song dynasty (960–1279). He went from cowherd to Buddhist monk to a gilded mummy worshipped by generations of residents. (There is no suggestion of self-mummification. He was mummified after his death as an indication of the great esteem in which he was held, an account that is consistent with the discovery that his organs had been removed and replaced with paper fill.) The villagers prayed to him at all major festivals and seasonal events. Each year the statue was transported through the village stopping at every house, and the monk’s birthday was celebrated every year with a grand festival. The village’s ancestral records seemingly confirm the oral history; they document the presence of the Patriarch as early as the Song Dynasty.

The theft of the Zhanggong Patriarch was devastating to the villagers. Some of the older residents had risked their lives to protect him from the iconoclastic marauders of the Cultural Revolution. The statue was kept constantly on the move for its safety, hidden in pits and people’s homes, sometimes moved twice in a night. They put a replica in his place, a rather rough grey version of the elegant gilded original, and the villagers still pray to it.

There’s one big problem. Nobody knows where the statue is right now. Apparently the collector, Dutch architect Oscar van Overeem, traded it with somebody in 2015 and he’s not saying who. The timing of this swap is curious, especially in the light of van Overeem’s strenuous denial that his mummy was the Zhanggong Patriarch. He insisted that he had easily disproven the village’s claim to the Chinese representative who contacted him to negotiate repatriation, but worked out a deal anyway to donate the statue to an unnamed Buddhist temple near Yangchun. He had struck this bargain, he said in May of 2015, “because he believed it deserved to return to its homeland ‘to be incorporated in truly Buddhist surroundings’ and worshiped ‘by those who love and appreciate him.'”

So in May of 2015, the collector believed that the mummy deserved to be home among those who love and pray to him, but I guess that belief wasn’t all that strongly held because the statue and mummy are not in any Buddhist temple near Yangchun. It’s nowhere to be found. Whoever the third party is has little incentive to come forward, so even if the village wins in court — which would be a landmark decision for Chinese cultural patrimony repatriation because it would be the first time a heritage object is returned due to the courts rather than through diplomatic channels — it could still be left bereft of its beloved Zhanggong Patriarch.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Arts & Sciences Research Paper #20: Knit Purses in 14thC Switzerland

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-07-19 16:08

Our twentieth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Lady Tola knitýr, of the Shire of Quintavia. She examines the history and background of these beautiful small purses, and then demonstrates how they can be made by a skilled modern craftsperson. (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

Knit Purses in 14thC Switzerland

Detail of Lady Tola’s reconstruction of a fourteenth-century knitted purse.

Table of Contents
I. Historical Overview of Knitting
II. Textiles and Religion
III. The Knit Purses of Sion and Chur
IV. Recreating a Sion-style purse
V. Conclusion
VI. References

I. Historical Overview of Knitting

The oldest items that can be truly defined as knit (rather than made with naalbinding techniques), are knitted cotton fragments from Egypt, approximately 11th to 12th Century.  Slightly later, but still in Egypt, knit cotton socks appear, with museum authorities estimating that they were made somewhere from 1200-1500.  These Egyptian pieces were the first knit in stockinette stitch in the round, where a tube is knit with needles that are pointed on both ends.  In The History of Handknitting, Richard Rutt indicates that these were almost certainly knit with rods, that may have been hooked.  Very few extant knitting needles have been found, which may be a result of the simplicity of double-pointed needles, but an excavation in York discovered two copper alloy rods with a rounded point on each end, dated to the late 14th century, that scholars suggest may have been used as knitting needles.

Copper alloy knitting needles, photo from The Archaeology of York 17/15, Finds from Medieval York, Craft, Industry and Everyday Life, Patrick Ottaway and Nicola Rogers, p. 2743.

In Europe, the earliest knit pieces appeared in the mid to late 13th century, as a Spanish glove, Spanish cushion covers, and a mitten fragment from Estonia. Following these pieces are five knitted purses from Sion, Switzerland and a sixth purse found in Chur, in the German-speaking eastern Switzerland.  All six are dated to the 14th century.  The purses were all knit with silk thread, very finely knitted from the top down, closed at the bottom with a three-needle bind-off, and usually used two colors at a time to create a pattern.

A number of paintings in the middle ages show Mary, mother of Jesus, knitting with double pointed needles.  The “knitting Madonnas” lead me to believe that at this time, knitting was done by women in the home, rather than in guilds, as was the case towards the end of the Middle Ages.

Detail from the right panel of the Buxtehude Altar, Master Bertram, c. 1400

“Madonna dell’Umiltà”, Vitale da Bologna, c. 1353.

Detail from “The Holy Family”, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, c. 1345

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II. Textiles and Religion

Across Europe, the Roman Catholic church was a vital part of life in the Middle Ages.  The papal states in Italy were the seat of power, and became independent from the Holy Roman Empire, which allowed the church to hold land as a sovereign entity. Massive landholdings as well as financial gifts to the church in the form of tithing helped the church become powerful politically.  Because of the great importance and wealth of the church, the finest materials were used in furnishing churches and clothing the clergy.  Precious metals like gold and silver, as well as luxurious silk, ivory, and gems, were crafted into decorations, vestments, and reliquaries used to hold the remains of holy places, saints, or items they had touched.  Because of the importance of the church to this day, many textiles in the form of garments and reliquaries were preserved through the ages.

Detail from “Altarpiece of the Virgin and Saint George”, c. 1400, Lluis Borrassa, showing girls working on embroideries for the Church.

Many of these textiles were created by women, both nuns and laywomen, to show their piety and devotion to the church.  Because of the importance of the textiles, which were largely in the form of intricate embroidered items, the Church kept detailed records of many of these donations.  In some cases, it is unclear as to whether the names of the women who donated the textile items were the artisans, or commissioned the pieces for the church.  Many Queens, such as Queen Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, are listed as the donors of embroidered items.  Queen Margaret of Scotland even established a workshop for noble women to gather and create religious textiles.  While embroidery gets most of the attention in historical study and recreation, a number of church textiles were also knitted items.

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III. The knit purses of Sion and Chur

The city of Sion is home to the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in Switzerland.  Historical records reflect bishops there as early as the 4th Century.  Several churches have stood in Sion over the centuries, and construction on the present-day cathedral began in 1450.

In the early 20th Century, Ernst Alfred Stückelberg was granted access to relics in the treasury of the cathedral of Sion.  Stückelberg was a professor of Christian antiquarian studies at the University of Basel as well as a researcher and lecturer of Christian archaeology and monuments.  Stückelberg’s essays do not detail the excavation of the artifacts, which could provide greater context for the items, but we do know that one of the items that he found was a wooden chest studded with gold-plated silver, which contained five knitted purses.  During the Middle Ages, purses were used for both secular and religious purposes.  The Sion purses are thought to have been used as reliquary bags, to hold the remains of saints.

Sion chest, from Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen Und Klöstern Der Schweiz: Katalog, p. 283.

The Sion purses appear in Richard Rutt’s A History of Handknitting, but were first studied by Brigitta Schmedding in Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen Und Klöstern Der Schweiz (Medieval Textiles in Churches and Monasteries of Switzerland).  Schmedding had a doctorate from the University of Freiburg, having written her dissertation on the Romanesque Madonnas of Switzerland in the 12th and 13th century, and also graduated from the Abegg Foundation’s three-year training in textile preservation.  The purses are currently located in the Château de Valère, the historical museum in Sion.  I have attempted to contact the staff of the museum to obtain color pictures of the purses, but have not received any response.

Schmedding also studied a sixth purse, found in Chur, Switzerland, which is generally referred to as the Chur purse and is strikingly similar to the Sion purses.  Both Schmedding and Rutt conclude that the purses likely came from the same creator or workshop due to the similarities.  I believe that these purses were likely knit by one woman, who then gave them to the church, since they are very similar and could represent devotion to the church.

The purses were all knit with silk thread, very finely knitted from the top down, closed at the bottom with a three-needle bind-off, and usually used two colors at a time to create a pattern.  Schmedding indicates that the threads are s-spun (spun in a clockwise manner), but does not indicate whether they were singles or plied.  Silk thread from the same time period used in embroidery and sewing was 2-ply, with the single threads Z-spun and the two threads plied together with an S-spin.

Diagram of yarn structure, courtesy Britannica Online.

For the technique, Schmedding describes the knit in the round technique, describes the bottom of the purse being laid flat and knit together, and indicates that it was probably knit on a frame.  Her description of the bottom of the purse matches the technique of a three-needle bind off, which is a technique used to join two pieces of knitting that are still on the needles, essentially binding off the stitches and seaming them together at the same time.  With regard to Schmedding’s suggestion of a frame, the stocking knitting frame was not invented until 1589.  There are, however, images of double-pointed knitting needles in art from the Middle Ages, as referenced earlier, so I would conclude that these purses were likely knit on double-pointed knitting needles.

The following analysis relies mostly on Schmedding, but also references Rutt.  Since Rutt’s names for the bags are simpler, each bag is referenced first with Rutt’s naming convention, then Schmedding’s, with the associated catalog number.  I also created my own charts, because I found that I was not satisfied with Rutt’s interpretations (and Schmedding doesn’t have any charts).  Rutt’s charts can serve as a starting point, but close examination of photos often reveals mistakes or omissions.  There is even a case where he indicates different colors on a purse than Schmedding describes, and as Schmedding had documented hands-on experience restoring the purses, I am inclined to trust her conclusions over his. All photos are taken from Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen Und Klöstern Der Schweiz: Katalog; the charts that follow each description are my own.

Sion relic-purse I (268 Reliquary bag), p. 285

Measurements: Bag is 27 cm x 24 cm (10.6” x 9.4”) Fringe is 17 cm (6.7”) Pattern repeat is 2.7 cm x 1.6 cm (1.1” x 0.6”)
Gauge: 70 stitches and 70 rows = 10 cm (4”) (a note about gauge – knitting gauge is measured by the number of stitches and the number of rows in a 10 cm x 10 cm or 4” x 4” square)
Colors: Red, light green, light blue, white, beige

                                                                                                                              Sion relic-purse II (271 Reliquary bag), p. 287


Measurements: Bag is 31.5 cm x 26 cm (12.4” x 10.2”) Fringe is 16 cm (6.3”)
Gauge: 80 stitches and 70 rows = 10 cm (4”)
Colors: Violet, red, light green, white, beige, light blue

Sion relic-purse III (269 Reliquary bag), p. 286

Measurements: Bag is 23 cm x 19.5 cm (9.1” x 7.7”) Fringe is 16 cm (6.3”) Pattern repeat is 7.4 cm x 1.9 cm (2.9” x 0.75”)
Gauge: 50-60 stitches and 70 rows = 10 cm (4”)
Colors: Violet, red, light green, light blue, white, beige

Sion relic-purse IV (272 Reliquary bag), p. 288

Measurements: Bag is 20.6 cm x 19 cm (8.1” x 7.5”) Fringe is 14 cm (5.5”) Pattern repeat is 3 cm x 1.7 cm (1.2” x 0.67”)
Gauge: 70 stitches and 70 rows = 10 cm (4”)
Colors: Violet, white, beige, light green

Sion relic-purse V (270 Fragment of a reliquary bag), p. 287

Measurements: Fragment is 20.5 cm x 21.8 cm (8.1” x 8.6”) Fringe is not present, because the lower half of the bag is missing. Pattern repeat is 6.5 cm x 2.3 cm (2.6” x 0.9”)
Gauge: 75 stitches and 90 rows = 10 cm (4”)
Colors: Red, light green, beige, white, violet, light blue

Chur purse (92 Reliquary bag), p. 91

Measurements: Bag is 34 cm x 24.5 cm (13.4” x 9.6”) Fringe is 13 cm (5.1”) Pattern repeat is 12 cm x 12-13 cm (4.7” x 5.1”)
Gauge: 90 stitches and 70 rows = 10 cm (4”)
Colors: Red, light blue, dark blue, white, beige, green

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IV. Recreating a Sion-style purse

I chose Sion relic-purse III for my first attempt at recreating one of the Sion purses.  To get the appropriate gauge (50-60 st to 10 cm/4”), I needed to use size 00000 (5/0) needles, which are 1 mm in diameter.  For reference, the knitting website Ravelry has a database of over 400,000 patterns, with the largest percentage of patterns using size 6 needles.  On size 6 needles, a knitter could reasonably expect to get 21-24 stitches to 10 centimeters.  When using standard commercial yarn, even the smallest common gauge range, for size 000-1 needles, is approximately 33-40 stitches to 10 centimeters.

Detail of Sion III reconstruction with penny for scale. Photo by Lady Tola knitýr.

For the thread, I chose Halcyon Yarn’s 2/30 Gemstone Silk.  The 2/30 designation indicates that it is 2-ply and the single plies equal 30 times the standard length of 560 yards, or 16,800 yards.  The larger the second number is, the thinner the yarn is. This yarn was also spun in the same way as silk threads from the time period of the Sion purses, with a Z-spun single and the two threads plied together with an S-spin.

With metal knitting needles and silk thread, there is little resistance to keep the stitches on the needles.  The needles I had on hand were 4” long, so I would recommend longer needles or a circular needle (though not period, it makes things a lot easier) to alleviate the slipping issues.  There are also not point protectors in small enough sizes for 5/0 needles, so I cut pieces of a cork to use for that purpose.

About halfway through knitting the bag, I realized that working the ends of the yarn in as I knit the bag would save me a lot of weaving in work in the end.  There are multiple ways of doing this, but my main technique was just carrying the ends along as if they were part of the colorwork, and twisting them behind the working yarn every three or so stitches.  Some of the different ways to work the ends in can be found here.

To finish the bag, I wove in and trimmed all of the ends, and then blocked the bag.  Blocking serves two purposes – to gently shape the knit object, and to even out stitches.  To block the bag, I soaked it in water and then used metal rods woven through the stitches to shape it into an even rectangle, then let it air dry.  The blocking made a big difference in the appearance of the purse.  After it was blocked, I attached 12 tassels, then used fingerloop braiding to make a drawstring and a carrying loop.  The only pictures I have found of this particular purse are in black and white, but a picture of the Chur purse shows that the tassels, drawstring, and loop were all made of multiple colors, so I concluded that they could be the same on this purse.  It is unclear from the pictures what technique was used to make the strings, so I decided to use fingerloop braiding, since I already knew how to fingerloop braid.  The drawstrings are “A Round Lace of 5 Loops” and the carrying loop is “A Broad Lace of 5 Loops,” both of which were found on medieval purses.

Sion III reconstruction, complete.  Photo by Lady Tola knitýr.

After completing the purse, I discovered that my purse measured considerably smaller than the original.  Sion Purse III measured approximately 9.1″ x 7.7″ and my recreation measured 5.75″ x 5.25″.  The vertical repeats were the same, the horizontal repeats were the same.  I measured the gauge of my purse, and it had a gauge of 88 st and 92 rows = 4″.  The extant piece had a gauge of 50-60 st and 70 rows = 4″.  I realized that the gauge swatch I had knit was in one color.  When knitting colorwork (two or more colors), the knitting will tend to have tighter gauge than when knitting with a single color.  Lesson learned: Knit your gauge swatch in the same manner as you will knit your project.  If it’s in the round, do it in the round (which I did).  If it’s colorwork, do it in colorwork (which I did not).  I could have knit this project with needles the next size up, if not larger.  However, The Sion and Chur purses do vary in gauge, and one purse has gauge of 75 st and 90 rows = 4″ while another has gauge of 90 st and 70 rows = 4″.  So while my gauge is not accurate for the specific purse I was recreating, it is historically accurate for other knit purses.

My next goal is handspinning silk to knit a purse of my own design.  Silkworm cocoons have been used to make silk for thousands of years, and there are two basic varieties: wild and cultivated.  Wild silkworms, since they feed on whatever leaves happen to be available, do not produce a uniform fiber.  They are also usually harvested after the silkworm has emerged from its cocoon, so the cocoon can not be harvested as a single thread, but results in multiple pieces and makes it more difficult to process for spinning purposes.  Cultivated silkworms may be referred to as Bombyx (their scientific name) or Mulberry (after their food source), and produce a much finer and smoother fiber.  These silkworms have been bred in controlled environments for over 5,000 years.  Since they only eat Mulberry leaves, there is much greater consistency across cocoons, and the silk is harvested before the silkworm emerges, so the cocoon can be processed in one unbroken strand.  I was interested in what the difference really looked like when thread was spun and knit, so I tested it out.  In the below picture, the reddish pink is a wild silk, and the white is a cultivated silk.  The difference between the two types is readily apparent when presented side-by-side.  To make the most reliable comparison, I spun and plied each silk within days of each other, trying for the thinnest spin I could manage without breaking, and knit them on the same size needles.  The wild silk was more difficult to spin, and spun thicker despite my attempts to draft it to a smaller thread.  It was dyed, which the cultivated was not, but it was commercially dyed, so the process shouldn’t have affected the fibers in an adverse manner.

Detail of knitted handspun silk sample, with penny for scale.  Photo by Lady Tola knitýr.

In addition to the handspinning, I also decided to try my hand at natural dyeing.  I have done a couple experiments with natural dyes, namely with black walnut hulls, alkanet root, and onion skins, using alum as a mordant.  Mordants are used to help dyes adhere to the fiber, and alum was a commonly used mordant in the middle ages.  All three of the dyestuffs I used were available and used during the middle ages.  The alkanet root and black walnut hulls were purchased as powders, and I gathered the onion skins to create the dyebath myself.  In the below images, the smaller skeins are commercially spun silk while the larger skeins are my handspun.  From left to right, the colors were obtained with alkanet root, black walnut hulls, and onion skins.  My next step with this project will be charting a design with a medieval aesthetic and knitting a purse with my own handspun and natural dyed silk.

Commercial and handspun silk skeins. The purple is dyed with alkanet root, the pale brown with black walnut hulls.  Photo by Lady Tola knitýr.

Commercial and handspun silk skein, dyed with onion skins. Photo by Lady Tola knitýr.

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V. Conclusion

The knit purses that were found in Sion and Chur, Switzerland and dated to the 14th Century were likely reliquary bags, used to hold important religious objects.  They were made from silk, a prized material, and were found with other religious items in cathedrals.  Because several paintings of the same period depict Madonna knitting, I believe that they are the work of a woman, who made them to show her devotion to the church.  Because they have slightly different gauges, they were likely knit over many years, or with different sized needles.  They are intricately designed, finely knit, and show a high level of skill.  The knitter who created them likely also made other objects, since colorwork knitting and knitting on very small needles are skills that take considerable time and practice to get to a competent level.

VI. References

Barber, E.J.W. Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Benns, Elizabeth, and Gina Barrett. Tak v Bowes Departed: A 15th Century Braiding Manual Examined. Great Britain: Soper Lane, 2005.

Boehm, Barbara Drake. “Relics and Reliquaries in Medieval Christianity.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (originally published October 2001, last revised April 2011). 14 May 2017.

Crowfoot, Elisabeth, Frances Pritchard, and Kay Staniland. Textiles and Clothing, C.1150-c.1450. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 2006.

Gilbert, Rosalie. “Medieval Dyestuffs, Dyeing & Colour Names.” Rosalie’s Medieval Woman. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2017.

Historic Enterprises. “Colors.” Historic Enterprises. Historic Enterprises, n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2017.

Laning, Chris. “Medieval Masterpieces: The Purses of Sion.” Knitting Traditions Spring 2013: 74-76.

Lins, Joseph. “Sion.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 16 May 2017.

Logan, F. Donald. A History of the Church in the Middle Ages. London: Routledge, 2013. Web. 14 May 2017.

Ottaway, Patrick, and Nicola S.H. Rogers. Craft, industry and everyday life: finds from Medieval York. York: Council for British Archaeology, 2002.

Rutt, Richard. A History of Handknitting. Interweave, 1987.

Schmedding, Brigitta. Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen Und Klöstern Der Schweiz: Katalog. Bern: Stämpfli, 1978.

Schulenburg, Jane Tibbetts.  Holy Women and the Needle Arts: Piety, Devotion, and Stitching the Sacred, ca. 500- 1150. In Katherine Allen Smith and Scott Wells (Ed.), Negotiating Community and Difference in Medieval Europe: Gender, Power, Patronage, and the Authority of Religion in Latin Christendom (pp. 83-110), 2009.

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Filed under: A&S Research Papers, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences

On Target: Backyard Backstops

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-07-19 11:22

This month, we have a question and answer from Hereward of Richmond. Hereward wrote me about do-it-yourself backstops.

I use four sheets of cardboard and one sheet of Coroplast, a corrugated plastic used for signs. It’s slightly stronger than cardboard and is water resistant. The pictures below show how they go together with zip ties. Note that in this picture there are only three sheets of cardboard, but I found since making this backstop that four is much better.

Remember, glue makes the cardboard harder and less arrow friendly, so you don’t want to use it. Coroplast can be found on most street corners for free because church fish fries, gun bashes, and political signs are never removed after the event. By law, the signs should be removed 10 days after the event, so on the 11th day, if you take them, you’re performing a public service.

Carefully remove the wires from the Coroplast sign before adding it to your cardboard. Then, with a little cutting and artistry, you can have a ninja.

After completing your target, take the sign wires and push them back into the Coroplast at the bottom where the ninja’s legs are. Zip tie everything together and then push the ninja into the ground standing upright.

In the picture below, we have a dark, gloomy scene on the left and a bright, sunny day on the right, both of which are backstops for the ninja.In the video below, I’m shooting a 35 pound bow at full draw at less than 10 yards into the ninja. It stops all the kinetic energy. Even if you have a blow through, the backstops behind the target stop what little energy the arrow has left.

Once again, thank you, Hereward, for the question. Next month, I’ll do even more on backyard backstops.

This month’s safety tip pertains to situations that happen at Pennsic when you have a large number of archers. If people go looking for arrows behind the nets used to stop arrows that miss the targets, they will seem to disappear, so marshals need to be alert. Here’s an example of why this is important.

Note: the arrow in this video was NOT actually fired, it was pushed through the target by hand for the purpose of demonstrating the danger to people hidden behind targets. Obviously, archers should not be firing when someone is standing behind the target.

‘Til next month.

In service,

Deryk Archer


Categories: SCA news sites

Rare Roman sarcophagus found in London

History Blog - Tue, 2017-07-18 23:43

Archaeologists have discovered a rare Roman stone sarcophagus at an excavation on Swan Street and Harper Road in Southwark, central London. The coffin dates to the 4th century and was buried inside a mausoleum along the Roman road just outside ancient Londinium. It is filled with soil so archaeologists were not able to determine its contents at a glance, but because the bones of a baby from the same period were found buried next to the sarcophagus, it’s possible it contains the skeletal remains of a mother. There is no evidence at this point of any connection between the infant and the coffin burial.

Contractors Pre-Construct Archaeology were engaged to excavate the property where a court annex and sorting office once stood and on which the charitable organization Trinity House plans to build a new housing complex. Excavations began in January and were almost completed when the sarcophagus was discovered last month. Under the former court annex building, the team discovered a long trench that had been dug by looters hundreds of years ago around the perimeter of the sarcophagus. The lid had been slid open and there’s a large crack in it, likely the calling cards of the same looters who dug the trench.

The grave robbers found the sarcophagus in the post-Medieval period. They broke into it and helped themselves to grave goods. Archaeologists hope the looters limited themselves to stealing the more showily valuable objects — precious metals, fine pottery, jewelry — and left behind things they didn’t care about but archaeologists do. If they didn’t interfere with the human remains, that would be a great archaeological boon. The sarcophagus has been scanned with a metal detector which signalled the presence of metal inside the earth-packed coffin, so there’s almost certainly something in there.

The deceased must have been a very wealthy, high-status individual to receive such an expensive burial. The sarcophagus itself is extremely rare. Only two late Roman sarcophaguses have been found in their original burial context in London in recent memory. Then there’s the location on the main Roman road leading in and out of the city. This was a prestigious spot that would have been reserved for someone of great importance.

Recent archaeological research has shown that this area of Roman Southwark is the focus of ritual activity. We now know that this area forms a complex ritual landscape containing various religious and funerary monuments and a vast dispersed Roman cemetery (sites such as Dickens Square, Lant Street and Trinity Street) incorporating a range of burial practices, often with exotic grave goods sourced from across the Roman Empire. […]

Gillian King, Senior Planner: Archaeology, at Southwark Council, said: “In my long archaeological career I have excavated many hundreds of burials, but this is the first Roman sarcophagus I have ever discovered, still surviving in its original place of deposition. I have seen them in museums, but I think part of me believed that they had probably all been found by now!

“It really is a very special discovery. Personally, I find it really fascinating to contemplate that this area – which we are now so familiar with – was once, during the Roman period, so completely different.”

The sarcophagus and lid were raised on Tuesday and transported to the Hackney archive of the Museum of London where it will be painstakingly excavated in laboratory conditions. Any bones or artifacts found within will be analyzed and tested to confirm the date of the burial.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Several Society Level Positions Open

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2017-07-18 18:44

The SCA is seeking candidates for several Society-level positions: Society Seneschal and Vice President of Operations, Society Minister of Arts and Sciences, and Society Webminister.  The full job descriptions as well as details about applying for the positions for each are listed below. 

Society Seneschal and Vice President of Operations.

The Board of Directors of the Society for Creative Anachronism is now accepting applications for the position of Society Seneschal (Vice-President for Operations). This is a part-time, paid position, which requires approximately thirty plus hours per week.

Applicants must possess strong telephone skills, and be very capable of interacting with unique SCA personalities. The ability to process and distill large amounts of information from different sources is a requirement. Organizational and problem solving skills are essential. Having held a Kingdom Seneschal position, while not required, is preferred. Applicants must possess enough space at home for a medium sized office, have immediate access to internet, PC and printer, and possess word processing skills.

Position Requirements and Responsibilities:
–Prior experience in a position of leadership within the SCA or leading volunteer organizations
–Oversee directly and indirectly the planning and implementation of all game side activities.
–Good working knowledge of current SCA corporate documents
–Investigative skills
–Ensure confidentiality of all investigations
–Mediation skills
–Executive management
–Quarterly review of all Kingdom Seneschal Reports
–Interface as a corporate spokesperson for information management
–Explore, evaluate and create new documentation as needed to ensure a positive game side experience
— Management experience with both volunteers and employees
–Report to the Chairman and President regarding matters of significant importance to the SCA, Inc.
–Office, Project and Resource management
–Excellent communication skills both written and oral
–Writing to a mass audience and speaking publicly
–The ability to connect to internet/communicate via internet is required

The Society Seneschal deals with large amounts of correspondence (mostly electronic, some telephone and a portion written) with a wide number of individuals including, but not limited to all kingdom seneschals, royalty, and corporate level offices, especially the President, Vice-President for Corporate Operations and the Executive Assistant to the Board of Directors.

Applicants must be available for the four quarterly Board Discussion Sessions per year (typically held on Fridays), held in addition to the four Board meeting days per year (typically on Saturdays). As Thursdays and Sundays tend to be travel days, each applicant must have sixteen days available per year, of which eight are week days. Additional traveling may be required. Availability for up to eight evening conference calls per year (generally starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time) is also required.

The successful candidate will plan, organize, and facilitate regular Kingdom Seneschals Meetings held via Go To Meeting for purposes of training as needed.

The successful candidate must be available to provide periodic advice to the Seneschals, the Crowns and Their Heirs in the 20 Kingdoms. This will incur a degree of time on the telephone and electronic mail.

The Society Seneschal-Vice President of Operations is responsible for supervising sanction activity as described in Section X of Corpora, and the Uniform Sanction Procedure as noted in the Seneschal handbook and the current Sanction Guide.

Resumes (professional and medieval, including awards and titles) must be sent to SCA Inc., Box 360789, Milpitas CA 95036, or resumes@sca.org, no later than October 31, 2017. You may also email comments http://lists.sca.org/listinfo/announcements. This is an official announcement by the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.; permission is granted to reproduce this announcement in its entirety in newsletters, websites and electronic mailing lists.

Society Minister of Arts and Sciences

The Society for Creative Anachronism is seeking candidates for the position of Society Minister of Arts and Sciences (MOAS), which is a warranted 3-year term of service.
The Minister of Arts and Sciences is the officer responsible for reporting on the artistic programs of the SCA, fostering the study of medieval culture and technology, and for promoting methods for producing historically inspired artifacts and performances.

Duties and responsibilities include:
• coordinating the efforts of kingdom officers in the field;
• promoting the dissemination of accurate information;
• responding to inquiries from the membership and artisans in a courteous and timely manner;
• constructive problem solving;
• ensuring accurate and consistent reporting from A&S officers to meet the SCA’s audited charitable reporting requirements;
• reporting quarterly on the artistic programs of the SCA.
• performing other duties assigned by the Board.

This is an unpaid position. Applicants should be paid members of the Society and able to travel to other kingdoms as approved by the board, and have easy access to phone, computer, mail and e-mail. Experience in both the practice and coordination of the Arts and Sciences as practiced in the SCA is strongly preferred.

Hard copies of résumés (both professional and SCA related, including offices held and honors) must be sent to the attention of ‘The Board of Directors’, SCA, Inc., P.O. Box 360789, Milpitas, CA 95036-0789. Electronic courtesy copies should also be sent to resumes@sca.org by October 1, 2017.

Society Webminister.

This position reports to the SCA Board of Directors.
The Society Webminister is a supervisory position, and is not involved in maintenance of the Corporate website (www.sca.org).

The Society Webminister is responsible for the following duties:

1. Ongoing development and revision of the Society Webminister’s policies and procedures, as detailed in the Society Webminister Handbook.
Said work will not only include making sure that solutions are provided for current issues, but will also include observing trends, being aware of potential issues and streamlining the Webministry as a whole to provide better service to the SCA and potential members thereof.

2. Warranting of kingdom-level Webministers, where necessary.

3. Supervision of all kingdom-level websites, including proper use of domain names, monitoring content, regular reporting from Kingdom Webministers, and enforcement of the Society Webministry policies and procedures.

4. Working with Kingdom Webministers to ensure they develop and
enforce clear guidelines for local SCA group websites based on the standards found in the Society Webminister’s Handbook.

5. Acting as a subject matter expert and resource regarding issues related to electronic publications and websites at the kingdom and local levels, including, but not limited to: copyright issues, privacy issues, and technology-related issues.

6. Quarterly reporting to the Board of Directors for the SCA, Inc.

Required for this position are: dependable email access; dependable phone access; moderate to expert proficiency in web-related technologies(e.g. HTML, Java, PSP, ASP, web hosting issues, etc.); moderate Microsoft Word proficiency; and the ability to clearly communicate via email, phone, and in written reports.

Prior experience as a Webminister in the SCA is required; prior experience as a kingdom webminister is highly desired.

Those interested in the Position of Society Webminister should submit their SCA and modern era resumes to both resumes@sca.org and it@sca.org. The deadline for applications is extended until October 1, 2017.

Comments are strongly encouraged and can be sent to:
SCA Inc.
Box 360789
Milpitas, CA 95036

You may also email comments@lists.sca.org.


Filed under: Announcements, Official Notices

Staff Positions Available for EK 5Oth Event / Positions disponibles pour l’événement du 50ième anniversaire du Royaume de l’Est

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2017-07-18 17:31

En français

Greetings!

As the autocrat for the East Kingdom 50 Year Celebration to be held next
year, I have a few staff positions that I need to fill.

If you are interested in any of these positions, please e-mail your
intent and list of qualifications to: autocrat@50year.eastkingdom.org

Please keep in mind that each department head will also be needing their
own staffs.  If you are interested in being on staff, please keep an eye
on 50year.eastkingdom.org.  We will be updating the staff listing and
activating email accounts for each department head.

OPEN POSITIONS:

Merchant Coordinator (hard goods)– This person will be responsible for
coordinating merchants who would like to vend at the event.  Ideally,
this person would be familiar with NYS regulations regarding permits,
etc. (This would include spice merchants as they do not fall under food
below.)

Merchant Coordinator (food)– This person will be responsible for
coordinating any food merchants who would like to vend at this event.
Reaching out to food truck vendors in the Albany area would also be a
plus. Ideally, this person would also be familiar with NYS regulations
as pertains to food vending at an event.

Fencing MiC– This person would be in charge of all fencing related
activites at the event.  Coordinating tournies or melees, managing
marshalls and inspections. Set up and tear down of the fencing area.

Disability services– This person would be responsible for coordinating
space in disability camping, coordinating access to medically necessary
charging stations and any other issues that would arise.

Media liaison– This person will be responsible for escorting media thru
the site and managing any other issues as pertains to that position.
Publicity, etc.

Event herald– This person would be responsible for coordinating with TRM
and event staff as to time and place of Opening and Closing Ceremonies,
as well as any processions or other ceremonial functions to happen at
the event outside of normal Court operations.

Royal liaison– This person would be responsible for helping Our and
visiting Royalty with their needs onsite, such as camping space (in
tandem with the Land Office), schedules, setting up viewing
pavilions/sitting areas, etc.

Again, if you are interested in any of these positions, send your
intent, along with contact info and any relevant experience to:
autocrat@50YC.eastkingdom.org

In Service to the Crown and Realm,
I remain,
Avelina

 
En français
Traduction: Behi Kirsa Oyutai

Salutations !

En tant qu’Intendante des Célébrations du 50ième anniversaire du Royaume de l’Est, qui auront lieu l’année prochaine, nous sommes toujours à la recherche de personnes pour combler quelques positions restantes.

Si une de ces positions vous intéresse, veuillez envoyer votre lettre d’intention et la liste de vos qualifications par courriel au: autocrat@50years.eastkingdom.org

Veuillez garder en mémoire que chaque chef de département devra aussi se trouver du personnel. Si vous aimeriez faire partie du personnel, gardez un oeil sur 50year.eastkingdom.org. Nous mettrons à jour la liste du personnel et activerons des addresses courriel pour chaque chef de département.

POSITIONS DISPONIBLES:

Coordonnateur des marchands (marchandise)– Cette personne sera responsable de coordonner les marchands qui souhaitent vendre à l’événement. Idéalement, cette personne serait familière avec les lois et régulations de l’État de New York au regard des permis requis, etc. (Ceci inclus les marchands d’épices, comme ils ne tombent pas sous la régulation s’appliquant à la nourriture, ci-dessous.)

Coordonnateur des marchands (nourriture)– Cette personne sera responsable de coordonner tous les vendeurs de nourriture qui aimeraient vendre leurs produits à l’événement. Joindre des propriétaires de camions de bouffe de rue dans la région d’Albany serait un plus. Idéalement, cette personne serait familière avec les lois et régulations de l’État de New York au regard de la vente d’aliments à un événement.

Maréchal en charge de l’Escrime– Cette personne sera en charge de toutes les activités reliées à l’escrime pendant l’événement. Ceci inclus coordonner les tournois ou les mêlées, gérer les maréchaux présents, ainsi que les inspections. Il serait aussi responsable d’organiser la mise en place et le démontage de l’espace réservé à l’escrime.

Services d’invalidité– Cette personne sera responsable de coordonner l’espace disponible pour le campement handicapé, coordonner l’accès aux stations de chargement pour besoins médicaux et toute autre situation reliée se présentant.

Liaison avec les médias– Cette personne sera responsable d’escorter les médias au travers du site et de gérer toute autre situation pertinente à cette position. Cette personne sera aussi en charge de la publicité entourant l’événement, etc.

Héraut d’événement– Cette personne sera responsable de coordonner avec Leurs Royales Majestés et le personnel de l’événement le moment et l’endroit ou auront lieu les Cérémonies d’Ouverture et de Fermeture, ainsi que toute procession ou autre fonction cérémonielle se tenant en dehors des planifications de Cour régulières.

Liaison Royale– Cette personne sera responsable d’aider Notre Royauté, ainsi que toute Royauté visitant notre événement avec leurs besoins sur le site, comme aider avec l’espace de campement (en tandem avec l’Office du Terrain), les horaires, monter des pavillons/espaces de repos, etc.

Encore une fois, si vous êtes intéressés par n’importe laquelle de ces positions, envoyez votre intention, avec vos informations de contact et toute expérience pertinente à:
autocrat@50YC.eastkingdom.org

En Service à la Couronne et au Royaume,
Je demeure,
Avelina


Filed under: Uncategorized

Kingdom Authorizations Clerk – call for letters of intent

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2017-07-18 17:03

To the most sylvan Kingdom of Æthelmearc and her most noble populace does your Authorization Clerk send warm greetings! The time has come for my second term in office to come to a close. As such, I am putting a call out for letters of intent for those that might be interested in pursuing the office of Kingdom Authorizations Clerk. I am requesting letters from interested parties to be submitted no later than December 31, 2017. The next term will begin at Kingdom 12th Night in January 2018 (no set date yet) and lasts for two years (01/2018-01/2020).

The office of Authorizations Clerk is a tedious, yet rewarding office. It falls under the Kingdom Earl Marshal and works very closely with all marshals, fighters, fencers, and riders of our ferocious army. On average the office requires between 3-15 hours of work per week, with very serious peaks prior to large events, especially Pennsic. Skills required for the office are primarily Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word, with a healthy dose of people skills and handwriting deciphering thrown in for good measure. The main responsibilities for the office of Authorization Clerk include:

  • Creating and distributing all Æthelmearc authorization cards.
  • Maintaining electronic and paper files of all authorizations (for 4 years).
  • Ensuring that the Kingdom Earl Marshal has access to fighter database if needed
    Reporting to the Kingdom Earl Marshal at regular intervals (quarterly) with copies being forwarded to the Kingdom Marshal of Fence, Chancellor of the Youth Martial Academy, Youth Fencing Provost, and others as requested. This report should include the following: total number of current adult and youth authorizations in the kingdom, number of authorized rattan, number of authorized rapier, number of authorized equestrian, number of authorized youth, any other information upon request.

I am available to discuss any questions you may have about the office via email (ursula.of.rouen@gmail.com) or phone(540-287-1748).

Letters of intent should be sent to the following gentles: Their Royal Hignesses (ae.prince@aethelmearc.org, ae.princess@aethelmearc.org), His Grace, Duke Christopher (aethelmearc.seneschal@gmail.com), Master William Paris (ae.marshal@aethelmearc.org) and myself (ursula.of.rouen@gmail.com) no later than December 31, 2017.

Yours,
Ursula

THLady Ursula of Rouen
mka: Danielle M. Duvall


Categories: SCA news sites

SCA, Inc. publishes SCA Harassment Policy

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2017-07-18 11:07

The SCA Harassment and Bullying Policy

From the Society Seneschals Handbook:

XXIV. SOCIETY SENESCHAL POLICIES & INTERPRETATIONS 4. Harassment and Bullying The SCA prohibits harassment and bullying of all individuals and groups.

Harassment and bullying includes, but is not limited to the following: offensive or lewd verbal comments directed to an individual; the display of explicit images (drawn or photographic) depicting an individual in an inappropriate manner; photographing or recording individuals inappropriately to abuse or harass the individual; inappropriate physical contact; unwelcome sexual attention; or retaliation for reporting harassment and/or bullying. Participants violating these rules are subject to appropriate sanctions. If an individual feels subjected to harassment, bullying or retaliation, they should contact a seneschal, President of the SCA, or the Kingdom’s Board Ombudsman. If a participant of the SCA becomes aware that someone is being harassed or bullied, they have a responsibility pursuant to the SCA Code of Conduct to come forward and report this behavior to a seneschal, President of the SCA or Kingdom’s Board Ombudsman. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ The following statement must be posted at gate/troll at every SCA event in a size large enough for people to see it as they enter our events.  This language must likewise be quoted in ALL site handouts at every event a site were a handout is made available.
  • THE SCA PROHIBITS HARASSMENT AND BULLYING OF ALL INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS.
  • Participants engaging in this behavior are subject to appropriate sanctions.
  • If you are subjected to harassment, bullying or retaliation, or if you become aware of anyone being harassed or bullied, contact a seneschal, President of the SCA, or your Kingdom’s Board Ombudsman.

Per the Society Seneschal July 17, 2017

 


Filed under: Announcements, Corporate, Official Notices

1759 British cannonball, still live, found in Quebec City

History Blog - Mon, 2017-07-17 23:26

Last Friday, July 7th, a construction crew working on a building site at the corner of Hamel and Couillard streets in Old Quebec, the historic center of Quebec City, Canada, unearthed a large cannonball from the French and Indian War. The crew took pictures of themselves with the 200-pound projectile as if it were a movie star. They moved it around, struck poses and generally had a blast with their discovery.

They didn’t realize at the time that the blast they were having could well have been literal. It was archaeologist Serge Rouleau, called in by municipal authorities to examine the find, who saw that the ball still held a charge. His examination determined that the cannonball was of British manufacture and was fired at the old city in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, or in the siege preceding it. Rouleau had taken the ball home with it to study — an odd step to take when dealing with explosive devices of any age — so when he realized his bouncing baby bomb still has what it takes to blow him up and burn his house down around the splattered specks of tissue that were once his body, he called in the experts.

A team of army munitions technicians was dispatched from CFB Valcartier to collect the ball and neutralize it.

“With time, humidity got into its interior and reduced its potential for exploding, but there’s still a danger,” said Master Warrant Officer Sylvain Trudel, a senior munitions technician.

Trudel said such balls were meant to set fire to the buildings they penetrated.

“The ball would break and the powder would ignite, setting fire to the building.”

This was a brutal weapon in the mid-18th century, and Quebec City was deluged with them during the Seven Years’ War when Britain fought and shot its way to taking control of much of French North America. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham was the culmination of three months of intensive bombings by British troops besieging the city of Quebec. From the their position at Lévis, just across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec, the British launched a near-constant barrage of deadly artillery fire starting on July 12th, 1759. Over the next three months, they would set the city alight with 40,000 solid iron cannonballs and 8,000 incendiary bombs. On September 13th, the British and French engaged in an infantry battle on a plateau outside the city knows as the plans of Abraham. It lasted less than hour. The British were victorious, chasing the French out of the city and ending the siege. The siege and battle took a massive toll on Quebec and its environs. The city and surrounding countryside were in smoldering ruins when the smoke from the plains of Abraham cleared.

On a global scale, the battle permanently altered Canadian geopolitics, setting the stage for the British conquest of Canada and the French withdrawal. France’s forces in Canada were weakened by the loss and came under increasing pressure from British troops on the continent. It would take another five years for the conflict to come to its final conclusion in the Treaty of Paris (1764), but when the quill pens were finally put to parchment, France had ceded almost all of its American territories, including Canada, to Britain.

The 258-year-old live cannonball has now been moved out of the archaeologist’s house to a safe place where the munitions disposal experts will determine if it can be safely neutralized. If not, it will be detonated and destroyed.

“Old munitions like this are hard to predict,” Trudel said. “You never know to what point the chemicals inside have degraded.”

If it is salvageable, the cannonball will find a loving forever home at a local museum.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic Blood Drive 2017

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2017-07-17 16:49

Greeting good gentles of the Known World.

The Pennsic War will soon be upon us, and while we are ‘playing war’ with our friends, many others are fighting one for their lives. Every blood donation is a chance to save a life, so please remember there will be a Red Cross blood drive during Pennsic.

Place: Zion Baptist Church, 148 Curry Road, Slippery Rock, PA
Dates: Friday, August 4th and Monday, August 7th
Times: 10 am to 3:30 pm

The church is within walking distance of the Pennsic site, but the Red Cross will run a shuttle van (leaving from the south end of the battlefield). We encourage you to ride the van so that you arrive with normal pulse and blood and are not turned away from donating!

Pre-registration: 

If you would like to pre-register to donate, volunteer to help, or would just like more information, please contact me by July 27th.

E-mail to: scahedgehog@gmail.com

You can also preregister on-line. Search for blood drives in zip code 16057, select August 4th or 7th, and choose your appointment time. (Note: we are in the process of registering our drive.)

preregister on-line here

Once War is underway, you can sign up at First Aid Point. Walk in’s are welcome, however, the Red Cross bases their staffing on preregistration numbers, so the more people who preregister before War, the more staff we may get.

Identification is now required for all Red Cross Blood donors.
Preferred methods of ID are:

  • American Red Cross donor card
  • Driver’s license
  • State ID
  • Passport
  • Military ID
  • INS “green” card
  • A student ID, corporate ID, or credit card is also acceptable if it contains a photo. There is a secondary list of acceptable identification, available at First Aid Point or you can e-mail me.

Together, we can make a difference. So, “Be a Hero, Save a Life at Pennsic War.”

In Service and Thanks,
Baroness Angelique d’Herisson
(mka: Renee LeVeque)
Pennsic Blood Drive Liaison
Middle Kingdom – SCA


Categories: SCA news sites

Roman domus with mosaic floors found in Auch, France

History Blog - Sun, 2017-07-16 23:50

When a landowner digging a foundation for a new home on his property in Auch, southwestern France, discovered ancient architectural remains less than two feet under the surface earlier this year, he reported the find to the authorities. In April, archaeologists from France’s National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) were dispatched to excavate the structure. They unearthed a layer cake of Auch’s rich history, with a luxurious Roman imperial-era domus as the topper.

The property is just a few hundred feet from the forum of the ancient city of Elimberris, a town founded by the Ausci, an Aquitanian tribe, before the arrival of the Romans. After the conquest of Gaul, the city’s name was Latinized to Augusta Auscorum and became one of the 12 main cities of the province that would become Gascony. It prospered in the late imperial era and the wealthy built increasingly expensive villas or expanded and upgraded existing ones. The latter is what happened to the newly discovered domus.

Even when things got scary as imperial support all but disappeared in the early 5th century, Auch still seemed to be doing okay. It was made the capital after the Gascon city of Eauze was razed by the Vandals, in 409 A.D., but these were the twilight days of the Roman Empire and being the regional capital of a place where the elite had already beaten a hasty retreated and abandoned their fancy villas years, perhaps decades, earlier, was a dubious distinction. The fancy villas were stripped for building supplies and otherwise forgotten.

Very little of ancient Auch has been excavated. Most of the archaeological material we have from Gallo-Roman Auch comes from a single major excavation years ago and scattered finds here and there. This discovery has been an exceptional boon to archaeologists because on this one 800 square meter site, they found evidence of the earliest settlements dating to the second half of the 1st century B.C. through the Late Empire.

Its first iteration was comparatively modest. It was private home with earthen walls. In the 1st century A.D., the site shows signs of an acceleration of urbanization under Rome’s influence. The city grew on an organized grid system orientated by the cardinal points of the map. The forum was built in this period, as were a number of top quality private dwellings. The villa was built in the 3rd century and was significantly expanded and altered twice after that.

In was in the early 4th century A.D. that the domus got its greatest refurbishment. Some time around 330 A.D., baths were added to the home. A home bath complex was the mark of high luxury. The baths in this villa were in their own building about 100 feet long and 30 feet wide. There were at least three rooms heated by underfloor hypocausts and the floors were decorated with brightly colored mosaics in a variety of patterns including geometrics (octagons and squares, waves), florals (ivy, laurel and acanthus leaves), tridents, braids and more. While none are extant in their original form, mosaics also decorated the walls. Archaeologists found black, green and red glass tile fragments amidst the floor rubble; that’s all that’s left of the colorful wall mosaics.

The mosaics are designed in a style characteristic of the area in the late Empire. The Aquitanian style is well known in ancient country villas from this era, but this domus stands out because it was a city home, not a rural estate. Aquitanian style mosaics are far rarer in urban centers, although they have been found before in Bordeaux and Eauze.

It seems the domus endured the same fate as other elite homes did in this region. It was left to its own devices at the end of the 4th century or beginning of the 5th century, and locals salvaged whatever materials from it they could use. The walls were demolished and their stone taken, the marble floors pulled up, even the stacks of tiles used to raise the subfloor for the hypocaust heating system were taken. The mosaics that weren’t destroyed by the process were damaged. The ruins were quickly forgotten and covered with earth, albeit a remarkable thin layer considering it took more than 1600 years for anybody to find what was left of the domus.

INRAP is working at lightning speed to excavate and recover as much of the site as they can. They plan to lift the whole mosaic floors. What will happen to the rest of the remains is unclear. The property owner wants them out by September so he can go back to building his thing, invaluable archaeological treasure be damned. Anything left behind could well be destroyed.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic Cannon Fire: Messaging Project Goes Live This Pennsic

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2017-07-16 18:18

“Gentles who expressed interest in the messaging project proposed in the [Æthelmearc] Gazette article Whilst the Cannons Fire: Pennsic and PTSD likely will be pleased to learn about the project’s plans for War in two weeks.” Read the rest of this article at The Æthelmearc Gazette.


Filed under: Announcements, Pennsic

Greetings from the East Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer/Salutations de la part de la Chancelière de l’Échiquier du Royaume

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2017-07-16 11:24

En français

Greetings from the East Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer,

Many hands make light work.  The office of the Exchequer is once again understaffed and in need of more hands.  Constance De Saint Denis and Jaquelinne Sauvageon have served us well as the Central and Northern region deputies and I thank them both for the time they put into those offices.

The East Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer is now accepting applications for the following positions:
Northern Region Deputy
Central Region Deputy
Western Region Deputy (PA/DE)
Warranting Deputy
Training (new exchequers)
Pennsic Steward
Council of the Exchequer (financial committee) – several seats available
Paypal assistants – several positions available
Domesday assistant – end of year consolidated reporting

I am not including descriptions of each position in this letter. Descriptions can be found in the SCA governing docs, EK Law and Financial policy of the East.  For all positions please send letters of interest to the Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer (exchequer@eastkingdom.org), along with proof of legal age (ex: drivers license) and current SCA membership.  For the Pennsic Steward applicants, you should cc their Majesties at TRM@eastkingom.org.  For ALL applications please include in the SUBJECT line ‘Application for ’  and the position name.

Once there are enough regional applicants, I would like to reorganize the areas that the regional deputies cover, as the exchequer office has to deal with groups by state rather than by the regions defined by the East Kingdom.  Each regional deputy covers between 10 and 15 groups.

In Service,
Maestra Ignacia la Ciega,
East Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer
exchequer@eastkingdom.org

En français
Traduction: Behi Kirsa Oyutai

Salutations de la part de la Chancelière de l’Échiquier du Royaume,

De nombreuses mains rendent le travail aisé. L’office de l’Échiquier est encore une fois en manque de personnel et aurait besoin d’autres mains. Constance de Saint Denis et Jaquelinne Sauvageon nous ont bien servies en tant que députées des régions Centrales et Nord, et je les remercie toutes deux pour le temps qu’elles ont consacré à ces offices.

Le Chancelier de l’Échiquier du Royaume accepte maintenant les candidatures pour les positions suivantes:
Député de la Région du Nord
Député de la Région Centrale
Député de la Région Ouest (PA/DE)
Député aux Accréditations
Éducation (Nouveaux Échiquiers)
Intendant de Pennsic
Conseil de l’Échiquier (comité financier) – plusieurs sièges disponibles
Assistants Paypal – plusieurs positions disponibles
Assistant au Domesday – Consolidation de fin d’année

Je n’inclus pas les descriptions de chaque position dans cette lettre. Les descriptions peuvent être trouvées dans les documents de gouvernance de la SCA, la Loi du Royaume de l’Est, ainsi que dans les Politiques financières de l’Est. Pour toutes ces positions, veuillez envoyer une lettre d’intérêt au Chancelier de l’Échiquier du Royaume (exchequer@eastkingdom.org), avec une preuve de votre âge légal (ex: permis de conduire) et votre carte de membre SCA valide. Pour la position d’Intendant de Pennsic, vous devriez aussi mettre leurs Majestés en copie conforme a TRM@eastkingdom.org. Pour TOUTES les candidatures, veuillez inclure dans la ligne SUJET “Candidature pour” suivi du nom de la position.

Une fois que nous auront reçu assez d’applications pour les postes régionaux, j’aimerais réorganiser les régions dont les députés régionaux s’occupent avec des groupes par état au lieu des régions telles que définies par le Royaume de l’Est. Chaque député régional couvre entre 10 et 15 groupes.

En Service,
Maestra Ignacia la Ciega,
Chancelière de l’Échiquier du Royaume
exchequer@eastkingdom.org

 


Filed under: Announcements, Official Notices, Tidings Tagged: Exchequer, help wanted

Michelangelo river god model restored

History Blog - Sat, 2017-07-15 23:30

A rare and fragile model of a river god made by Michelangelo Buonarotti in around 1525 has been restored to its original condition and placed on public view after years in storage. Made out of wood, clay, sand, wool and oakum fibers on an iron wire framework, the model was an ephemeral work. These were not built to last; models were use objects meant to be discarded after the permanent marble sculptures were finished. In this case, Michelangelo never did get around to making the sculpture, so the model is all we have to show for it. It is one of very few life-sized models ever created by Michelangelo.

The statue in question was a river god or river allegory that was to recline on the right side at the foot of the tomb of Lorenzo de’ Medici, Lord of Florence, Duke of Urbino and the father of Catherine de’ Medici, Queen of France. Michelangelo’s client, Pope Clement VII, insisted that he create life-sized models for the tomb sculptures in the (vain) hope that it would speed up production by allowing the master to delegate some of the execution to secondary artists without loss of quality. Another three river gods were planned for the base of the tomb, but Michelangelo only completed this model and the one for its twin on the left side. None of the finished sculptures of the river gods were ever made.

After he left Florence for Rome in 1534, the two models stayed in the New Sacristy of the San Lorenzo basilica, the grand chapel designed and sculpted by Michelangelo to house the palatial new Medici dynasty tombs, along with all the completed statuary. They were still there two decades later, but by the end of the 16th century, the right model was in the private collection of Cosimo I de’ Medici. The left model was lost. The only known version of it extant today is Michelangelo’s very rough work sketch in the British Museum.

In 1583, the surviving model was donated to the Academy of Art and Design which is today the oldest fine arts academy in the world, founded by Cosimo I in 1563. At the time of the donation, less than 60 years after it was made, the model had condition problems. The first recorded restoration of the work took place in 1590.

Over the centuries, the river god fell down an art historical memory hole until it was rediscovered in 1906 by German sculptor and long-time resident of Florence Adolf von Hildebrand and German art historian Adolf Gottschewski. The new attention the model received spurred the Academy to move it to the Galleria dell’Accademia where it was displayed near the David and other sculptures Michelangelo carved in marble.

The model was on display there until 1965 when it was moved to the Casa Buonarroti museum for its own preservation and to add to the museum’s collection of Michelangelo models. The Academy still owns the piece, however, and three years ago they engaged the services of Florence’s top restoration masters at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure to stabilize the deteriorating model.They mended areas of the surface that had come apart and strengthened the structure to prepare it for future transport and exhibition. They also analyzed the dark paint that gave the work a bronzed effect and discovered it was a later alteration. Michelangelo’s original choice was the paint the model in lead white to make it look like the marble the finished product would be made out of and so that it would match the completed sculptures in the New Sacristy. Opificio conservators painstakingly removed the dark paint, revealing and restoring Michelangelo’s original white lead layer.

The restored model made its official debut at the Refectory of the Basilica of Santa Croce on July 11th. In September it will go on display at a major exhibition on the art of 16th century Florence at Palazzo Strozzi. After that, it will be on permanent view at the Academy of Art and Design.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Rare trade silver found in Michigan colonial fort

History Blog - Fri, 2017-07-14 23:02

Archaeologists have discovered a small but exceedingly rare artifact during this season’s excavation of the 18th century fur trading settlement and colonial fort of Michilimackinac in Michigan’s lower peninsula. It’s a simple silver triangle pierced at the top with a tiny hoop, likely worn as a pendant or earring. It dates to around 1765 and was unearthed in the remains of a fur trader’s house. These modest pieces were trade silver, used as currency in the trading outposts of the colonies.

Trade silver is an excellent marker for the British era of the fur trade. The piece would have likely been used to trade for furs and pelts, Evans said.

She and her team found a smaller piece of trade silver several years ago, but it’s a pretty rare find

“We don’t find a lot of it at Fort Michilimackinac,” she said. “We were really excited.

They don’t find a lot of complete artifacts of any kind at Fort Michilimackinac. Active every summer since 1959, the excavation of Michilimackinac is the longest ongoing archaeological dig in the United States. Over the decades, archaeologists have recovered more than one million archaeological materials, but because the soldiers and traders left Fort Michilimackinac for Mackinac Island gradually over the course of two years, they had plenty of time to ensure nothing useful, valuable and intact was left behind. The vast majority of the items unearthed at the fort are refuse like broken glass, animal bones or lost or discarded items of little to no value like beads and buttons. That’s why it was major headline news when the 2015 dig recovered an intact ivory rosary from the home of a mid-18th century French fur trader.

This season has been even more of a banner year, with two intact artifacts discovered: the trade silver pendant and last month, a brass lock that once sealed a small chest or box. Unearthed in the root cellar of the same fur trader’s home where the trade silver was found, the lock is 2.75″ long and 2.25″ wide at the widest part of its belly. It dates to between 1760 and 1770 and is an unusually decorative, fancy little fixture.

The house itself is older than both objects, having been built around 1730. Rubble on the site indicates the house was demolished in 1781 when the garrison and the traders completed their move to the island. During the 50 years it was standing, it was a bustling part of the trader community. Other items found in the interior of the house underscore that it once belonged to fur traders, something the team knew from the beginning of the dig but was confirmed by the discoveries. Archaeologists unearthed more than a dozen gunflints, four musket balls of trade gun caliber, fishhooks, Jesuit ring fragments and a variety of glass trade beads in a selection of colors and sizes.

The site will continue to be excavated until the season ends in August. Until then, visitors to Colonial Michilimackinac, the open-air museum on the site of the site of the 18th century fort and trading village that is now part of the Mackinac State Historic Parks system, can view the archaeologists in the trenches, ask them about their work, see finds as they come out of the ground.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic Cannon Fire: Messaging Project Goes Live This Pennsic

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-07-14 14:47

Gentles who expressed interest in the messaging project proposed in the Gazette article Whilst the Cannons Fire: Pennsic and PTSD likely will be pleased to learn about the project’s plans for War in two weeks.

According to project co-organizer Amani Ahmed Mash’al al-Sabti al-Dulaymi on the Facebook group Pennsic Messaging System Progress:

  1. The sign-up will be at Silvertree Souq, merchant spot 98, next to Nordic Trader.
  2. We will have you sign a hold/no-harm form to participate. This will be a simple form releasing any of us from liability in the event that your identity becomes known.
  3. We will only collect names on those forms. The messaging system sign-up will only be a telephone number. I will not need names for the actual system.
  4. We are working on getting volunteers to stand with Signal Corps to post the messages as the cannoneers get signals from the marshals to fire. Our volunteers will stand wherever the Signal Corps wishes, as long as they can see or be informed when to send the SMS. Cannoneers/Signal Corps- please contact me ASAP to work this out.
  5. We have one dedicated person to do data entry, but volunteers who wish to help out, please come to the Souq to sign up or help.
  6. Signs will be posted at the shop and we will advertise in the Pennsic Independent. Any donations or help for that is appreciated.
  7. We have phones and a laptop. However, FYI: the current laptop is not great and a little persnickity. It’s an old Macbook that has been on two deployments, so she’s cranky. We will be using Excel to enter numbers. There will also be a notebook sign-up for new numbers. This notebook will be destroyed via fire at the end of War.
  8. I am trying to acquire a box of earplugs for folks. This seems reasonably possible. They will be available at the Souq. I may charge 25 cents to 50 cents for them, or they may be free. All depends on cost.

This is what we have for now. This is the first year, so there are bound to be hiccups. However, the system we are using has been repeatedly tested and works GREAT! You will get a small “ding-dong” or other sound notification. Nothing crazy, but if you are looking out for this sound you will know to brace yourself or comfort your dog/child/spouse/friend/self.

At the end of Pennsic, I will post a brief AAR on this board and will look forward to the feedback from users on how to improve the system.

(Reported by Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina (Chris Adler-France))


Categories: SCA news sites

Pennsic Newcomers Pointe Needs Volunteers

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-07-14 14:20

Greetings from the Pennsic Newcomers’ Point Coordinator,

This year, we are coordinating the return of the Newcomers Point, which will be part of the Pennsic Event Resources.

Our goal is to have a place that is open and available to newcomers, where they can feel comfortable and learn more about the event and the SCA in general. Newcomers’ Point will be a set place where Newcomers can come to ask questions or get information about the SCA and/or Pennsic. We will also be able to help Newcomers get involved with their local group after Pennsic.

The Pointe will be will be located under the same tent as the Pennsic Watch (seated at the table, in the shade, with electricity!), and we will need your help staffing the tent. Already Æthelmearc has chosen to sponsor a day, and the Midrealm has too.

Most shifts are still open, and we especially need people during Peace Week. Please email me to volunteer for a shift and help make this a huge success.

  • Sunday, July 30, 2017: 11am – 3pm
  • Monday, July 31, 2017: 11am – 3pm
  • Tuesday, August 1, 2017: 11am – 3pm
  • Wednesday, August 2, 2017: 11am – 3pm
  • Thursday, August 3, 2017: 11am – 3pm
  • Friday, August 4, 2017: 10am – 6pm
  • Saturday, August 5, 2017: 10am – 6pm – Sponsored by Æthelmearc
  • Sunday, August 6, 2017: 10am – 6pm – Sponsored by the Midrealm
  • Monday, August 7, 2017: 10am – 6pm
  • Tuesday, August 8, 2017: 11am – 4pm
  • Wednesday, August 9, 2017: 11am – 4pm
  • Thursday, August 10, 2017: 11am – 4pm

In Service to the Dream,
Baroness Desiderata Drake, OP
Newcomer Point Coordinator, Pennsic 46


Categories: SCA news sites

Pietà by pioneer Netherlandish painter loaned to Rijskmuseum

History Blog - Thu, 2017-07-13 23:08

Johan Maelwael, also known by the French version of his name Jean Malouel, was born in Nijmegen in around 1365. Nijmegen was part of the Duchy of Guelders then (now the province of Gelderland in the Netherlands) and had just joined the Hanseatic League in 1364. The prosperity that came with the increase in trade and commerce engendered a flourishing of the arts. Johan came from an artistic family — his father and uncle were successful artists — and he trained in his father Willem’s workshop from an early age.

He started his professional career as a painter of heraldic imagery at the court of the Dukes of Guelders in his hometown of Nijmegen. That experience proved desirable and portable, and in 1396 he moved to Paris where he specialized in painting heraldic and armorial images for Isabeau of Bavaria, Queen of France. Isabeau was a great patron of the arts who during this period had built something of a shadow court thanks to her husband’s increasingly frequent bouts of mental illness. (Whenever the King succumbed to one of his spells, which lasted months at a time, he did not recognize Isabeau and demanded that strange woman be removed from his presence.)

Maelwael’s work for the Queen lasted no more than a year, and by the summer of 1397 Maelwael was in Dijon, capital of the Duchy of Burgundy, where he was appointed court painter to Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. The appointment came with the rank of valet de chambre and a hefty salary. Maelwael would keep the job even after Philip’s death in 1404, remaining court painter to his son and successor John the Fearless.

At the Burgundy court, Maelwael again painted heraldic images on banners, pennants, flags and armour, but he also went further afield. Among other works, the dukes commissioned large-scale murals, devotional panel paintings, elaborate altarpieces for the Carthusian monastery of Champmol where Philip’s tomb was located, and the painting and gilding of sculptures. He experimented with new approaches and pioneered what would become known as the International Gothic style.

The greatest surviving example of this is a tondo known as La Grande Pietà, a tempera on wood panel painting that many art historians consider to be the first proper tondo of the Renaissance. The iconography is not typical of later Renaissance pietas because in addition to the dead Christ held by his disconsolate mother Mary, God the Father is also in the picture, holding up the body of his sacrificed Son. Two angels help hold up the body, and a four more balance out the composition on the left side, adding splashes of color and a variety of anguished facial expressions. On the far right is a facepalming St. John.

On the back of the round is an example of the specialty that launched Maelwael’s illustrious career: the coat of arms of Philip the Bold of Burgundy. This suggests the painting was commissioned by Philip before his death, and the unusual combination of a pieta and the Holy Trinity suggests it may have been intended for the Burgundy tombs at Champmol since the monastery was dedicated to the Trinity and the ducal family also evinced a particular devotion to the Trinity.

Besides the imagery, Maelwael also included unusual features in the technical aspects of the painting. The frame of the tondo was carved out of the wood panel, something I don’t recall seeing in any other example of the form. His use of transparent glazes over the tempera was also ground-breaking. Early Netherlandish master Jan van Eyck, who a decade after Maelwael’s death followed in his footsteps as painter to the Duke of Burgundy (Philip the Bold, in his time), would take those transparent glazes and run with them.

One of the reasons the tondo is so special is that it is one of very few extant works that can be conclusively attributed to Johan Maelwael. Acquired by the Louvre in 1864, La Grande Pietà is one of the treasures of the museum’s early Flemish collection. It hasn’t left Paris since 1962, but come this fall, the greatest surviving masterpiece of the first painter of the Northern Renaissance will be heading to the Netherlands for the first time in its existence when it goes on display at the Rijksmuseum.

At the Burgundian court, Maelwael painted flags, banners and armour; he designed patterns for fabrics; he executed large religious paintings; he created refined miniatures in illuminated manuscripts; he decorated sculptures with gold-leaf and color and he painted small devotional pieces and portraits. Around 1400 Maelwael introduced his three talented nephews as miniature painters in France: the legendary Limbourg brothers Herman, Johan and Paul.

For the first time, Maelwael’s paintings will be exhibited alongside medieval art treasures, manuscripts, precious metalwork and sculpture – from among others, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the MET in New York and the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. Maelwael’s paintings will be juxtaposed not only with the sculpture of his contemporaries Claus Sluter and Claes van Werve, but also with the richly decorated illuminated manuscripts of the Limbourg brothers.

The Johan Maelwael exhibition will run at the Rijksmuseum from October 6th, 2017, through January 7th, 2018.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

After the Writ

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-07-13 14:15

from Mistress Elisabeth Johanna von der Flossenburg

photo by Rob Westfall.

It was Pax Interruptus 2002 (and I did look this up in the order of precedence since I mistakenly keep saying it was 14 years ago). James II and Elina II were sitting the Sylvan Thrones. Baroness Katryne of Bakestonden and I were having a conversation outside the hall, trying to justify ditching court. Since we were both Court Baronesses, we finally decided that we would be setting a bad example and snuck into the back. None too soon either, for I was called before Their Majesties.

Queen Elina started talking to me about how I had promised her that I would make some clothing, and that she had now made a decision as to what she wanted me to make. I was surprised and astonished, for I did not feel that this needed to be discussed in court. It really was nobody’s business other than hers and mine. Then she pulled out this bolt of white fabric with Laurel Wreath all over it, and all I am thinking is: “But Your Majesty what are you doing, You are not a Laurel, I cannot make a Laurel dress for you, the Order will be so angry!” No, I did not say it, but these are the words that went thru my head. They are truly burnt into my memory. 

At this point Master Edmund Tregelles, the herald, called in the Order of the Laurel. It still did not hit me until Her Majesty said “I want you to make a dress with this fabric to wear for your vigil.” It slowly started sinking in. “But I am not worthy. I am not ready for this. I cannot accept this. I am not good enough.” Those were my thoughts as I was being escorted from court. 

In the back of court all the Laurels congratulated me and told me they would see me at Pennsic for the elevation. “But I do not know if I can accept this,” I kept saying. Mistress Alison of the Many Isles was asking me if I would accept her help with my ceremony along with my peer? I was belted to Mistress Rose Marian of Edgewater, a Pelican. And I kept saying “I do not know if I will accept this.” Yes, I put those two peers through hell.

I came from Drachenwald where at that time writs were unknown. You were called into court in the morning, sent to vigil and elevated the same afternoon or evening. Your friends and peers had been notified and they had everything ready for you. I did not realize I had the right to have input into my ceremony, so needless to say I concentrated on whether or not I would accept the accolade, and my oath of fealty. Everything else I left up to the two peers. Yes, I did say I would make my own dress and that I would want other artisans to shine for my ceremony. I finally said who I wanted for my worthies IF I accepted and that remained if for a long time. 

I made the two Ladies plan a vigil and a ceremony without knowing if I would say yes or no! Much later I realized how horrible I was. 

While they were jumping through all kinds of hoops for me I was trying to decide whether or not to accept. I wrote to friends back in Drachenwald for advice. And I started planning, embroidering and sewing the dress I would wear IF I were to accept. Many sleepless nights followed and I just could not decide: Am I worthy? Am I good enough to be a Laurel? Am I ready to accept the responsibility of being a Peer. What IS a Peer? What IS expected of me? I received a lot of good advice and quite a few dressings down for my unwillingness to decide from my friends back in the old Kingdom.

It was getting closer and closer to Pennsic. My dress of course was a Cranach German in my colors, red with gold bands and my SCA history and arms embroidered into the bands and guards, including household affiliations and awards. No, there was no Laurel wreath because for one I was not yet elevated and for two I still had not decided. I am sure the two peers were thinking I was a brat and actually not worthy to be elevated!

The decision however I made was: I will finish the dress which other than the embroidery design was an exact replica of a Cranach painting – down to the beading design on the Brustfleck (the decorated band between the two fronts) – and I will show this dress to a mundane artisan friend who will be the judge. If my dress was museum worthy then I was ready to be a Laurel, if not than I would have to improve my skill, and could accept the award. 

Today I know that this last paragraph shows I really did not fully comprehend what it means to be a Peer. It is not just skill; it is also those elusive hard to define Peerlike qualities that make a Peer and I do not think that anyone can understand what they are until they have been a Peer, and even then they are really really hard to define. It has to do with the responsibilities we take on. The Leadership role we accept when becoming a Peer, trying to always be gracious and encouraging, and critical without hurting feelings. The inspiring without taking over, the knowing when to step back and let others take over, the letting non-Peers make mistakes to learn from and helping to guide them in fixing said mistakes, the gentle guidance and helping newcomers and oldtimers on their way to the goals they set for themselves, and many more things that I cannot even start to name.

But back to my story:
I did present my dress to our friend along with the picture of the painting I used as my inspiration. And our friend says: “Elisabeth I am disappointed in you!” My heart dropped, because I really had gotten used to the idea of being a Mistress of the Laurel, I just needed that final stamp of approval that did not seem to be coming. He went on with: “I really expected more from you! Where is your creativity? This is an exact copy, it could be in a museum as a dress from the 1500s Anyone can do that! I expected you to create a new design something spectacular, not a copy!” I started laughing, which upset him and then I explained the whole thing. And he told me of course you must accept the accolade. And you must teach, but do not forget about the Creativity. Thus, my decision was made and I let the two Peers know.

Fast Forward to Pax Interruptus 2017. Again, I am called into court. Again, I am surprised with a writ. Again, I am escorted by an Order out of the court. This time I know a little bit more what is expected and what I am allowed to do. And no I will not put my peer Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin and others through the “will she accept or not” hell. Yes, I will accept the accolade. This time I hope I know what is expected of a Peer. I have been one for 15 years. 

However I have a request to all SCAdians who know me or know of me. I would like to hear from you. I would like a report card as to what I did well as a Peer the last 15 years but even more importantly, what I can improve. The date of my elevation will not be until the fall. But I hope that many of you will seek me out in person when you see me or by email (bostonhahn at aol dot com) or whichever way you feel comfortable counseling me. Because I would really like to use the time from now until my elevation to contemplate on what I can improve. For I am here to serve to the best of my ability. And yes, I know I am blunt and straight-forward and at times intimidating. Please believe me, I am working on that, but it is hard to teach an old dog a new trick.

I hope my story gives you a little insight into what happens after the writ and I look forward to hearing from all of you!

Elisabeth Johanna von der Flossenburg

 


Categories: SCA news sites