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Medieval furniture lecture at Castlerock Museum

SCAtoday.net - Sun, 2014-11-23 16:42

Anplica Fiore reports that the Castlerock Museum in Alma, Wisconsin will host a lecture entitled Medieval Furniture of the Maciejowski Bible on November 30, 2014 at 2pm.

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Categories: SCA news sites

SCA BoD seeking Director nominees

SCAtoday.net - Sun, 2014-11-23 10:12

Lisa Czudnochowsky, Director, SCA Inc. and Ombudsman for Board Recruiting reports that the SCA Board of Directors is seeking nominees.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Medal of Honor awarded to Gettysburg hero 151 years later

History Blog - Sat, 2014-11-22 23:59

Union Lieutenant Alonzo Hersford Cushing died at Gettysburg on July 3rd, 1863. On November 6th, 2014, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration in the country, for his heroism on that field of battle that day. It has taken 151 years and a campaign of more than three decades for Cushing to get this richly deserved recognition. It’s the longest gap between the act of valor and the awarding of a Medal of Honor in history.

Alonzo Cushing was born in Delafield, Wisconsin, on January 19th, 1841. He was one of four brothers and his widowed mother struggled to make ends meet. The congressman who recommended Alonzo to West Point described her as “poor but highly committed and her son will do honor to the position.” He was appointed to West Point in 1857 and graduated in June 1861, two months after hostilities began at Fort Sumter, with a commission as first lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He was in the thick of all the most famous battles: Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and of course, the one that would claim his life, Gettysburg. At Chancellorsville Cushing was promoted to commander of Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery of the Army of the Potomac II Corps.

He was in command of 126 men and six cannons on July 3rd, 1863, the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. They were positioned inside a bend in the rock wall, known as the Bloody Angle, on Cemetery Ridge that was the center of the line General Robert E. Lee hoped to break through with a massive 13,000-person infantry attack known as Pickett’s Charge. After being pounded by Confederate artillery, Battery A was all but destroyed. All the officers and most of the soldiers were dead. Only two cannons were still functional.

Cushing himself had been grievously wounded during the artillery assault. A shell fragment hit him in the shoulder and shrapnel gutted him, tearing through his groin and abdomen. He refused categorically to move to the rear, saying he would “stay right here and fight it out or die in the attempt.” Instead, literally holding his intestines in one hand, Cushing ordered that the two remaining cannons be moved right up to the stone wall to shoot at the three Confederate divisions of infantry advancing in rows a mile wide towards the Angle.

Weak and unable to shout, Cushing was bodily supported by 1st Sergeant Frederick Füger who relayed his orders to his men. He observed the charge through a field glass, and ordered his men to fire double-shotted canister, deadly anti-personnel rounds. He used his own thumb to stop the cannon’s vent, burning his fingers to the bone. With the Confederate infantry less than 100 yards away, he yelled “I will give them one more shot.” A few seconds later a bullet hit Cushing in the mouth, exiting out the back of his skull and killing him. He was 22 years old.

Cushing had stood his ground for more than an hour and a half after his wounding, inflicting heavy casualties and opening gaps in the Confederate lines that played an important role in the Union’s repelling Pickett’s Charge. He was given a posthumous brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel for his service at the Battle of Gettysburg, but no medal. He was buried at West Point, a very high military honor, under a headstone inscribed “Faithful unto death.”

The story of Alonzo Cushing wasn’t widely known, but he was still beloved in his hometown of Delafield, Wisconsin. That’s where Margaret Zerwekh heard about it when she married her second husband and moved into his Delafield house that had once belonged to the Cushing family. An amateur historian, she researched Alonzo’s story and sometime in the 1980s (she doesn’t remember the exact date), wrote a letter to then-Sen. William Proxmire of Wisconsin recommending Cushing for a Medal of Honor. It would be the first of many, many letters sent to many, many members of Congress.

The procedure for awarding a Medal of Honor more than three years after the events being recognized are complex. First the branch of the military in which the would-be recipient served has to approve the nomination. In Cushing’s case, the U.S. Army approved his nomination in 2010. Then legislation had to be passed by both Houses of Congress to waive the three-year time limit. That took three years. Then the President has to approve the nomination. This August, the White House announced that Alonzo Cushing would be awarded the Medal of Honor.

The deed was done at a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House attended by more than two dozen Cushing family members and Margaret Zerwekh. Alonzo’s next of kin, cousin twice removed Helen Loring Ensign, accepted the medal on his behalf.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Tiny chapel found in Wales

SCAtoday.net - Sat, 2014-11-22 19:13

Twenty years ago, Bill Devereux bought land near Wrexham in northern Wales. During clean-up and restoration around the property, Devereux discovered what is believed to be the smallest chapel in the UK (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

St. Eligius A&S Competiton and Faire 2014

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2014-11-22 16:46

Winning entry in Master Alexander’s Challenge

 

The Barony of Dragonship Haven celebrated St. Eligius Arts and Sciences competition Saturday

November 15th, as well as tourneys for rattan and rapier to select Baronial Champions. The main A&S competition was an unusual design and involved entrants judging other entrants of similar experience level. Advisers discussed considerations for judging with each group and were available for consultation throughout the contest. Many thanks to Mistress Anarra Karlsdottir and Mistress Michel Almond de Champagne who guided our novices, Mistress Briony of Chatham who helped the Artisans, Master Jehan du Lac who assisted the Experienced Competitors and Mistress Nest ferch Tangwystl who worked with the entrants in the Laurels and Masters group.

Twenty six entries were in this competition each consisting of several parts and examples. Many fine and beautiful items competed for prize scrolls created by Baron Adhemar, Duchess Elisende of Merides, Baronness Efa Gath fach (Parsley) and Baroness Ysabella de Draguignan.  

Winners of this competition were:

Novice A (in SCA under 3 yrs) – Chelsea of Gloucester – Spinning – Display of different weights

Novice B (in SCA over 3 yrs) – Ulfgeirr Ragnarsson– Viking Arm band

Artisan – Gideon ha-Khazar) – Research – “Why is this knight different than all other knights?”

Experienced competitor – Lissa Underhill – Anglo Saxon Glass Beads

Laurels and masters – Mistress Eleanor LeBrun — Evolution of Hoods through the SCA period.

Several focused competitions were also held this day. Winners included

Artisan’s Progress: Lissa Underhill: Anglo Saxon Glass Beads

Medieval Moment: Dziuginte Litovka: Armor for a Lithuanian Farmer

SCA Kluge:Anna Illevna – Heraldic Viking Apron

Master Alexander Challenge: Ysemay Sterling–Weaving silk fringe, woodcut print, glass beads.

Baron Adhemar’s Choice: Eleanor le Brun- Hoods through the Sca Time Period

Populace Choice: Lissa Underhill: Anglo Saxon Glass Beads

The organizers are very grateful to the good gentles who thoughtfully examined and judged entries into these contests: Master Luke Knowlton judged entries in Medieval Moment. Mistress Pagan Graeme picked the winner of Artisan’s Progress. Master Morgan Rhys ap Bran chose best SCA Kluge. At Lady Cassandra de Matisse’s request, the Master Alexander’s Challenge winner was selected by His Excellency Adhemar de Villarquemada.

A varied and delicious homemade dayboard was prepared by Master Tristan de Worrell and Mistress Renye Wurm able supported by Master Jaji and Lady Yasmine bint Rasheed.

In other contests of the day, Ulfgeirr Ragnarsson won the Baronial Heavy list tourney as well as the Novice B division of the A&S competition. Thus was Lord Ulfgeirr Ragnarsson appointed both Dragonship Haven Baronial Rattan Champion and Baronial Arts and Sciences Champion.

Having won the Rapier Tourney, Lord Jean Michelle LeVode was appointed Dragonship Haven Baronial Rapier Champion.

The Barony’s Worshipful Company of Artificers (A&S) was augmented by the induction of Lady Bronwen Rose of Greyling called Brose and Lady Kathryn Ramsey. The Barony’s Order of the Yale (service) was likewise strengthened by the additions of Lady Kathryn Ramsey and Lord Jean Michel LeVode.

A marvelous dessert revel after court was organized and largely prepared by Lady Isabella d’Allaines le Comte.

Our thanks to Lady Bronwen Rose of Greyling called Brose for submitting this report, and for the use of her photos.


Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Dragonship Haven, St. Eligius

Two-Part Schola Coming Up in February and March

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2014-11-22 16:21

Lady Lilie Dubh recently shared with us that two NY groups will be trying a new event concept early next year: a two-part Schola.

The Canton of Lions End and the Barony of An Dubhaigheann were both contemplating having scholas over this coming winter. As the groups are neighbors, representatives consulted with each other and decided to collaborate.

The Lions End event, Lions in Winter, is scheduled for February 21, 2015, will be part one. Part two will be the Spring Schola in An Dubhaigheann on March 21, 2015. Some classes will start in Lions End and finish in An Dubhaigheann, and projects needing help or completion can be worked on at both events and in between.

However if you can’t attend both events, don’t be deterred from attending whichever you can. There will be single session classes which begin at the An Dubhaigheann event as well as continuations of those started at Lions End.

The autocrats of both events are eager to hear from anyone who would like to teach classes which take advantage of this longer format; their contact information can be found in the event announcements:

In addition to classes, Lions End will be holding an Arts and Sciences Competition, and An Dubhaigheann will be selecting Bardic and A&S Champions, and offering a garb sale.


Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Events Tagged: An Dubhaigeainn, classes, Lions End, schola, university

APEC - Proposed Corpora Change

SCAtoday.net - Sat, 2014-11-22 13:57

At the July 2013 Board Meeting, the Additional Peerage Exploratory Committee (“APEC”) proposed that the Board of Directors create a new Patent-bearing Peerage Order parallel to the Orders of the Chivalry, the Laurel and the Pelican. This Rapier Peerage would be for the related martial arts of rapier and all forms of cut & thrust in the SCA.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Thomas Hart Benton’s epic America Today murals at the Met

History Blog - Fri, 2014-11-21 23:48

Before he become cover-of-Time-magazine famous as a muralist and leading light of the realist style inspired by local scenes known as Regionalism, Thomas Hart Benton’s first mural commission was a series of 10 murals for the boardroom of the New School for Social Research in New York City. Alvin Johnson, the school’s director and one of its co-founders, wanted its mission of unfettered inquiry and progressive thought to be reflected in the art and architecture as well. He commissioned Joseph Urban to design a new building in modernist International Style that stood out dramatically from the Greenwich Village town houses on West 12th Street. Benton collaborated with Urban to create murals that will flawlessly fit the walls of the third floor boardroom.

The new building opened on New Year’s Day 1931 with nine of the panels in place (Benton finished the tenth later) on the four walls of the 30-by-22-foot room. America Today depicts a wide view of American life in the 1920s: city and country, industry and farming, steel workers and bankers, coal miners and doctors, black and white, boxers and lovers, a hard day’s work and wild nights of dancing, north and south. Benton painted these murals, most of which are seven and a half feet high, referring to sketched studies he had made while traveling the country in the 1920s. Fun fact: his student Jackson Pollock posed for several of the figures.

Benton received no fee for this immense work, just expenses, but he got a whole lot of artistic recognition. The critical success of the cycle led directly to commissions for eight other murals, including the Indiana Murals which cemented his mainstream fame and put money in his pocket. His dynamic, fluid, colorful style was a major influence for the WPA artists that soon followed.

The murals saw some hard treatment over the years, as students leaned their chairs against them, smoked like chimneys, exhaled moisture and transmitted bacteria. Thomas Hart Benton returned to restore his murals twice, once in 1956, once in 1968. He died in 1975 and seven years later, the school decided to sell the murals to fund its endowment. The plan was not happily received in New York City. If the panels were sold to a dealer or auction, they could be scattered to the four winds. Mayor Edward I. Koch even expressed dismay at the prospect of the mural cycle being split up and/or leaving the city.

In May of 1982, the school sold the 10 murals to the Maurice Segoura Gallery. The gallery kept them for two years before selling them to the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States (aka AXA) for $3.1 million. AXA agreed to always display America Today to the public and proudly sported the murals in the lobby of its corporate headquarters on Seventh Avenue for years before the company and artwork moved to a new building at 1290 Avenue of the Americas. In February of 2012, a building renovation saw the murals moved into storage.

With no prospect of a proper display site coming up any time soon, AXA decided to donate the murals to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met was more than happy to accept them. Before they could go on display, however, the museum had to create an appropriate space. As of September 30th, it has.

The keystone of the exhibition—the mural—will be installed in a reconstruction of the 30-by-22-foot boardroom as it existed at the New School in 1931, allowing viewers to experience the mural cycle as Benton conceived it. A highlight of this extraordinary opportunity to view the reconstructed mural in its nearly original setting is the incorporation of elements that were part of the architect Joseph Urban’s modernist aesthetic for the New School building, such as the black and red color scheme he used for the room. Among the mural’s most distinctive features are the aluminum-leaf wooden moldings, which not only frame the mural but also create inventive spatial breaks within each large panel. When the mural was installed at the New School, these moldings echoed the Art Deco details of Urban’s building design.

The exhibition also features Benton’s studies from this travels in the 20s and related works by other artists from the Met’s collection.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Honoring the "standing cup"

SCAtoday.net - Fri, 2014-11-21 18:18

Like their modern counterparts, medieval people enjoyed entertaining guests, often with their best utensils. Naomi Speakman, curator for the British Museum's Late Medieval Collection, salutes the museum's newest acquisition, the Lacock Cup, in a feature article on the museum blog. (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

In Memoriam: Lord Breuse de Taraunt

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2014-11-21 18:05

It is with great sadness that the Gazette reports on the passing of Lord Breuse de Taraunt. Lord Breuse passed away on the evening of November 16th, 2014, following a collision with another vehicle. He is survived by his wife, his son, Lord Jence Brunerson, and his two daughters.

Lord Breuse first found the SCA in A.S. XV when he attended Pennsic IX while living in the Midrealm. Shortly after, he joined the U.S. Navy and later returned to the SCA, most recently in the East Kingdom, residing in the Canton of Black Icorndall in the Barony of Bhakail. Lord Breuse also went by: Stone Pate, Male Bruce, and Wing Bruce, the story behind which is detailed by the Baron of Bhakail, Mael Eoin mac Echuid:

 

He earned his Tyger of Foreign Legions for transporting Royal gear to Estrella and Gulf Wars in a single trip, for helping clean, set up and tear down as needed and for retaining at those Wars.  That trip kicked off numerous friendships, an intended annual tradition of making it out to Estrella and was where the legend of Wing Bruce was born.

It was through his travels to the Midrealm, Atenveldt, Ansteorra, the West, An Tir, Trimaris and more, that Lord Breuse became known to many, including those in the East whom he served. These are the words of our King, Edward III:

I have been blessed to have known many within the society: heroes and legends going as far back as AS 3;  queens whom I would follow to the ends of the earth; sword companions; and nobles from across the Known World.  In this talk of heroes… “You’ve left out one of the chief characters – Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam.”  

I want to hear more about Breuse, as he was all that I have ever hoped to be.

He had a quiet grace, strength and courtesy that never failed.  He delighted in the goodness of others and affirmed as much by his stalwart and true service.  His humble actions spoke volumes more than these feeble words can hope to.  This world was made bright for his part in it. 

Lord Breuse was known to be a helpful and giving individual, whether it was through his brewing, his cooking, or his service cleaning the hall, hauling gear, or retaining for both his local Baronage or Their Majesties.  Recently, Lord Breuse served as a member of the Queen’s Guard for Queen Thyra, and Her Majesty sent us words:

“I will miss his steadiness, and his quiet constant support of everyone around him. He was a member of my guard, because no one could be more trustworthy in the defense of others. He was always surprised when anyone noticed him, but it wasn’t hard to see the quality of this man. I was lucky to have known him.”

Lord Breuse will be missed by many throughout the Known World, and his liegelord and friend, Mael Eoin mac Echuid, Baron of Bhakail:

We are diminished, today, for in losing Bruce, we have not lost a shining champion from the field, but a man who did much to get others to the field.  Nor did we lose a cook renowned for his courses, but a kitchener who would chop and clean all that needed to be chopped and cleaned.  What we did lose is a mensch, a model of service, a father, a friend.  Bruce was all of these, to many, and many will remember.

Details for a memorial service, to be held on Friday, December 5th, 2014 will be forthcoming.


Filed under: Tidings Tagged: in memoriam, obituary, remembrance

"Sometimes you end up going to Wal-Mart in Viking garb.”

SCAtoday.net - Fri, 2014-11-21 09:58

For four years, members of the Medieval and Renaissance Society (MaRS) of the University of Georgia have been honing their fighting skills at Myers Quad. Recently reporter Emily Dardaman of the Red & Black dropped by for a visit. (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

Alys’ Simple Guide to Naming Awards and Orders

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2014-11-21 08:12

With the proposed changes to Corpora clearly requiring that all awards given by SCA groups be registered by the College of Heralds, some groups may find themselves having to change their existing award names in order to meet the current heraldic standards and comply with the mandate of Corpora. Special Heraldic Contributor to the Gazette, Mistress Alys Mackyntoich has put together this helpful guide to understanding the basics of how Award and Order names are constructed as a primer to help understand period and SCA practices. Individuals are encouraged to consult a herald who specializes in names with any detailed questions.

What’s The Difference Between An Award And An Order?

Administratively, there isn’t one. Heralds call them Order Names for our administrative purposes and I will do the same in this Guide because typing “award or order” gets annoying. There may be a difference in a particular Kingdom’s culture, but that is not official. For example, some people think that an award can be given multiple times, but an order only once, but that is neither period practice nor written anywhere in law.

How To Build An Order Name

Each order name must have two things:

  1. A designator from the list of designators approved by the College of Arms
  2. A substantive element that matches the way orders were named in period.

[SENA NPN.1] A designator is necessary so that we can identify the item as an order name rather than as some other kind of name.

In the name “Order of the Silver Crescent,” Order is the designator and Silver Crescent is the substantive element.

What Designators Can We Use?

The current (November 2014) list of approved designators is found in Appendix E of SENA and in the May 2013 Cover Letter. The approved designators are:
Order
Award
Company

Whether “Fellowship” is another registerable designator is currently under review.

But What About Legion?

Legion is usable as a designator for household names. Unfortunately, it is no longer available for award/order names. [March 2010 Cover Letter]

Picking A Substantive Element

The substantive element of an order name has to follow period naming practices. Currently (November 2014), we can document the following patterns for naming orders:

Order of Heraldic Charge — for example, Order of the Maunche

Order of Heraldic Color + Heraldic Charge — for example, Order of the Silver CrescentOnly heraldic tinctures and the ordinary names for the heraldic tinctures can be used. So “Order of the Blue Tyger” or “Order of the Tyger Azure” is fine. “Order of the Teal Tyger” or “Order of the Sapphire Tyger” is not.

Order of Physical Descriptive + Heraldic Charge — for example, Order of the Crowned IbexThis category is very limited. It has been allowed only for adjectives describing clear visual modifications to the heraldic charge — thus, Crowned Ibex (period example) and Winged [charge] (SCA example).

Order of Two Heraldic Charges — for example, Order of the Unicorn and Maiden

Order of Abstract Quality or Virtue — for example, Order of Chivalry

Order of Saint’s Name — for example, Order of Saint Michael
For this pattern, one can also use pagan deities in place of saints. So, for example, Order of Artemis.

Order of Saint + Place name — for example, Order of Saint George of Rougemont

Order of Saint’s Object — for example, Order of Saint Georges Shield

Order of Person’s Name — for example, Order of Bellina
This pattern allows orders to be named after the given name of the founder or inspiration. We have yet to document order names based on the surnames of people.

Order of the Piece of Armor/Clothing — for example, Order of the Belt

Order of Place Name — for example, Order of Loreto

Order of Duke/King of Place Name – for example, l’ordre du Duc de Bourgongne

But . . . This Name Doesn’t Fit Your Patterns And It Is Registered!

There are a couple of reasons why a past registration is no guarantee that a similar name can be registered now. First, our body of research and heraldic knowledge changes over time. We find that things we thought were good period practice actually weren’t. We also sometimes find that things we thought were not period can be documented after all. Second, the applicable heraldic rules change over time. Sometimes those rules changes make it easier to register certain things, sometimes they have the opposite effect. Third, a particular group may be able to take advantage of a rule that your group cannot for various reasons.

Do We Have To Use Real Saints?

The current (November 2014) SCA heraldry rules allow you to make up saints as long as the root name of the person is real.

For example, “the Company of Saint Kenrics Beard” is a registerable order name, even though there was not a real Saint Kenric because: (1) Kenric is a documentable period name; and (2) a beard is a documentable period heraldic charge.

You’ll notice that there’s no apostrophe in “Kenrics Beard.” Whether or not an apostrophe + s is required to make something possessive depends on whether you are using the period form or relying on one of the rules that allows for use of modern English. Since this is intended as a “Simple Guide,” this is one of the issues on which you should consult a names herald.

How To Figure Out Whether Something Is A Period Heraldic Charge

There is an SCA resource called the Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry that can be very helpful. It includes citations and pictures of period forms of heraldic charges. Experienced heralds will also have access to period rolls of arms and armorials (collections of blazons or images).

Clearing Conflicts The Easy Way

Some order names are quite popular and have already been registered by other groups. However, the current (November 2014) heraldic rules allow a very simple way of clearing the conflict: adding the group name that is giving out the award. The Order of the Beacon of Carillion (registered 11/2012 LoAR) does not conflict with the Order of the Beacon of Endeweard (registered 9/2013 LoAR). [SENA NPN.3.C]


Filed under: Heraldry

Wreck of SS Ventnor, ship carrying 499 Chinese dead, found

History Blog - Thu, 2014-11-20 23:59

The wreck of SS Ventnor, a ship that went down in 1902 carrying the remains of 499 Chinese gold miners from New Zealand back to their homes in China’s Guangdong province, has been found. The ship was discovered 21 kilometers (13 miles) west of Hokianga Harbour under 150 meters (492 feet) of water. The general area of the sinking was known, but it has taken 112 years to find the actual wreck.

The Ventnor Project Group, funded by Definitive Productions which is making a documentary about the shipwreck, first spotted the wreck in December of 2012 using echo sounding sonar. In January of 2013, they enlisted Keith Gordon, former president of the New Zealand Underwater Heritage Group, to investigate the site further. Using a remotely operated underwater vehicle, the team was able to photograph the wreck. The last step was sending divers to record the wreck on video. They confirmed that it was indeed the Ventnor.

In April the divers returned and were able to retrieve artifacts that might aid in identification. They recovered the ship’s bell and a few other pieces (some plates, a porthole window) which have been cleaned and conserved, but nothing with a name that would clinch the deal. Authorities in China and New Zealand were notified of the discovery and the shipwreck was gazetted by New Zealand Heritage, which means no objects can be removed the site without permission. No coffins or human remains have been found yet. The Ventnor Project Group needs to raise another 400,000 New Zealand dollars to dive the wreck site more extensively. Meanwhile, the Royal New Zealand Navy is going forward with separate plans they made before the announcement of the find to search for the wreck next month.

The tragedy of the Ventnor is a window into the Chinese experience in New Zealand. The first Chinese immigrants were invited to New Zealand by the Otago Provincial Council who needed people willing to do backbreaking labour in the gold mines of Otago on the South Island. Gold had been found in Gabriel’s Gully in 1861, setting off the Otago gold rush. Five years later, the gold fields had been thoroughly picked over and the work of extracting gold, never easy, got so hard miners left for greener pastures. The population of European miners plummeted from 19,000 men in early 1864 to 6,000 in late 1865. That’s when they sent the call out to Guangdong province for miners to rework the area. Guangdong was suffering in the aftermath of the suppressed Taiping Rebellion, so thousands of men made their way to New Zealand in hope of making a decent living.

By 1869, there were more than 2,000 Chinese, most of them from the Guangzhou area, in New Zealand. By 1881, there were more than 5,000. That same year, the New Zealand government passed its version of the U.S. Exclusion Act, a poll tax that charged ever Chinese immigrant £10 to enter the country, and only allowed one Chinese immigrant for every 10 tons of cargo. In 1896 those numbers got a lot worse: the per head tax was raised to £100 and only one Chinese immigrant was allowed per 200 tons of cargo. The poll tax remained in force until 1934 when the Japanese invaded Manchuria.

Amid the simmering racial tensions and the regulatory aggression, the Chinese miners banded together to maintain their customs and support each other. In 1882, a year after the poll tax was enacted, men from Poon Yu and Fah Yuen counties of Guangdong Province founded the Cheong Sing Tong, a subscription association that allowed members to pool their resources so they could send the remains of the dead back to their hometowns in China. According to Chinese tradition, the dead must be buried in the ground of their homes so their descendants can properly tend to them to ensure a good afterlife for the deceased and good fortune for their survivors.

The leader of the Cheong Sing Tong was Choie Sew Hoy, a successful merchant who had arrived with the first wave of immigrants from Poon Yu. Just like in the American gold rushes, the most successful people were those who sold stuff to the miners rather than the guys panning in rivers. Choie Sew Hoy started off with a general store and eventually ran a dozen mining ventures of his own. He was a prominent community leader in Dunedin and well respected by Chinese and European alike.

In 1883, Hoy and the Cheong Sing Tong exhumed 230 bodies and successfully sent them back to China for reburial. In 1901, they began arrangements for a second shipment. From early 1901 to the September 1902, bodies of Chinese immigrants were exhumed from more than 40 cemeteries, most of them in the Otago area but also from elsewhere in the country. The remains were sent to Choie Sew Hoy’s farm where the bones were individually washed and each bone counted. The small bones were each wrapped in calico. The large bones placed in calico bag to which the small bones were added along with the name of the deceased. The bag was tied and put inside a coffin which was stored in a shed until all coffins were ready to be shipped.

While this process was taking place, Choie Sew Hoy died suddenly in July of 1901 at the age of 64. His son Choie Kum Poy took over the project and Choie Sew Hoy’s body was added to the others for return to China. The ship they chartered to carry this cargo was the SS Ventnor. The Glasgow-built cargo ship was only a year old in October of 1902 when the coffins were loaded and it left Wellington headed for Hong Kong. Along with the crew, there were nine or six (accounts vary) elderly Chinese men on board who were given free passage by the Cheong Sing Tong in exchange for looking after the coffins.

One day after leaving Wellington, the ship, which was apparently traveling too close to the shore, hit rocks near the coast of Taranaki. The captain decided the damage wasn’t so bad they should make for the nearby port of New Plymouth, and there was little point in turning back around to Wellington since they could go almost the same distance north to Auckland and be going in the right direction. His judgment was flawed. The Ventnor took on water and sank off the Hokianga Heads on October 28th, 1902, two days after setting sail. Four lifeboats were launched holding the crew and passengers. Three of them made it to safety. The one holding the captain, among others, did not. Thirteen people died.

The tragic fate of the Ventnor was big news at the time, spurring a magisterial inquiry into the cause of the sinking. The official finding, announced on November 21st, 1902, was that the striking of the rocks off Cape Egmont was due either to negligence or incompetence on the part of the captain. Drunkenness, while possible, could not be proven. No blame was assigned to the decision to keep going towards Auckland instead of turning back to Wellington.

The Cheong Sing Tong chartered the Auckland steamer Energy to search for the Ventnor and any of the remains, but most of the coffins, including that of Choie Sew Hoy, were lead-lined and ensconced in the hold. Some plain wooden coffins that were stored on the deck floated and washed ashore. Maori tribespeople from the Te Roroa and Te Rarawa tribes buried the remains with care. They too share the belief that the remains of their people must be buried in the soil of their home, an issue that has been at the forefront of requests for repatriation of Maori remains in anthropological collections around the world.

The disaster of the Ventnor led to the disbanding of the Cheong Sing Tong and the end of the practice of sending coffins back to China in bulk. Remains were still sent home, but on an individual basis. The ship’s manifest was lost with the ship, so we don’t even have a list of names of the 499. Only Choie Sew Hoy is known. Recovering remains from the wreck would be extremely meaningful to the descendants of the miners in New Zealand and China.

The documentary The Lost Voyage of the 499 aired on Maori TV just Monday before the news of the discovery was announced. It’s a moving look at the history of the Ventnor as seen through the eyes of Choie Sew Hoy’s living descendants who travel to the Maori burial sites and to Hoy’s home village to see the first home he built in the 1860s and to pay their respects at his proxy grave.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

"Nasta’liq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy" at the Sackler

SCAtoday.net - Thu, 2014-11-20 14:58

Islamic art does not depict the human form, but it often finds its greatest inspiration in calligraphy. A new exhibit at the Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C. is devoted to nasta’liq, Persian calligraphy developed from the 14th to 16th centuries. Nasta’liq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy will be featured at the gallery from September 13, 2014 through March 22, 2015.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Re-Announcing the Canterbury Faire Brewing Competition - 2015 - Cider

SCAtoday.net - Thu, 2014-11-20 12:41

Rohesia reports that an addition has been made to the Canterbury Faire 2015 Brewing Competition: Cider.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Scaffholding for Capitol Dome restoration finished

History Blog - Wed, 2014-11-19 23:26

Scaffolding around the cast iron Dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., has been completed so that the full restoration of the Dome can begin. The construction of the scaffolding system is an impressive project in its own right. More than 52 miles of metal piping and two miles of wood planking form 25 tiers of platforms that surround the Dome from the skirt up to the base of the Statue of Freedom. The total weight of the scaffolding materials is 1.1 million pounds. Work is expected to take about two years and will be done mainly at night so as to minimize the disruption of Congressional business.

It’s been 150 years since the Dome was constructed, and although it was refurbished once in 1960, it’s in dire need of extensive repairs. Age and weathering have caused almost 1,300 cracks and breaks, 12,800 inches worth, in the exterior skin. There are pits and voids, rusted areas, missing and loose ornaments. So far workers have collected more than 100 ornaments that had either fallen off or were just about to fall off. Water leaks in through the cracks and pinholes in the Statue of Freedom causing rust and damage to the protective paint and corrosion in the interstitial space between the Dome and the Rotunda.

These are critical condition issues that need immediate attention lest the artwork in the Rotunda, the Apotheosis of Washington in the oculus of the Dome and the Frieze of American History underneath the windows, are at great risk of damage due to water leaks. There are already noticeable water stains on the coffers at the first visitors’ gallery. Further damage could cause things to start breaking off onto visitors in the Rotunda. A white donut-shaped catenary system was installed above the Frieze to protect visitors and the floor from construction debris while leaving the Apotheosis and Frieze still viewable.

Now that the scaffolding is up, the next stage is paint abatement and removal. Workers will sand blast eight layers of paint, some of it lead paint, some of it dating to 1866 when the first paint was applied to the completed Dome. To do this safely, the paint will sucked into large tubes that will run from the scaffolding to specialized trucks parked on the lower West Front of the Capitol. During this process, workers will also remove all loose ornaments and anything else precarious. Conservators will restore whatever pieces they can and recast the ones that are too damaged to repair.

As soon as the paint is removed, a primer coat will be applied. Cast iron is subject to “flash rusting,” meaning it starts to oxidize instantly as soon as it’s exposed to oxygen. To prevent flash rusting, the Dome will have to be primed within eight hours of paint removal. After the entire Dome is primed, the cracks in the cast iron will be repaired. Welding doesn’t work with cast iron unless you disassemble the object and bake it an oven at 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, a technique that obviously doesn’t apply to a giant dome. Of the 12,800 crack inches, 8,200 of them will be repaired using a technique called “lock and stitch” in which each crack is filled by hand with metal pins (that’s the stitching part) and then the edges brought together across the width with steel locks. The rest of the cracks will be filled with the “Dutchman” technique wherein large pieces are replaced with parts of the same shape. The restored or recast ornamentation will then be readded and damaged windows replaced and repaired.

All of that work will be done from the boiler plate at the bottom of the Dome to the base of the Statue of Freedom. The next phases will be done from top to bottom so the scaffolding can be removed as work is completed. Cast iron filler will be applied to any areas in need of it, then the Dome will be repainted in three layers. The top coat will be, appropriately enough, Dome White. Next fall protection and bird deterrent systems will be installed. After that, all that will be left is the clean-up. Everything should be shiny and new for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.

The Architect of the Capitol has made tons of fascinating photographs of the Capitol dome available on its Flickr page. The main photostream has current pictures, plus there are photo albums dedicated to subjects like the original construction of the iron dome in the 1850s and 60s, the 1960 restoration, the restoration of the Brumidi frescos inside the Capitol and a set of almost 300 images of the restoration that began this month. The there are all the pictures of various events, holidays, seasons and oh man, the Capitol artwork. It’s seriously one of the greatest Flickr accounts I’ve ever seen.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Polling Responses due November 26

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2014-11-19 19:37

Their Majesties, Edward and Thyra, issued Their second round of Award Order Pollings on November 5, and responses are due back to Them by November 26. They rely on the advice of the Companions in making Their award decisions, and appreciate timely replies.

If you are a member of a polled Order and are not subscribed to the polling distribution or the discussion list, you may sign up here: Polling Lists  Please remember that each Order has two separate e-mail lists — one list is solely for sending out messages containing the links to the polls, the other list is for two-way discussion among the Companions of an order.

If you are subscribed to a polling list but did not receive the most recent message containing the link to the poll, please contact the Clerk of the Polling Lists, (currently Duchess Katherine Stanhope). She usually sends a message even if there are NO candidates, so Companions know they have not missed a poll.


Filed under: Official Notices Tagged: awards, pollings

Viking ring fortress might have launched English invasion

SCAtoday.net - Wed, 2014-11-19 15:04

Danish Archaeologists, thrilled by the discovery of a Viking ring fortress on the island of Zealand, are considering the possibility that the site might have been used as a training camp to launch an invasion of England. (photo)

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Categories: SCA news sites

New SCA Membership Website Now Live

SCAtoday.net - Wed, 2014-11-19 10:02

The new SCA membership page is now available. The East Kingdom Gazette offers an introduction.

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Categories: SCA news sites