Monday, May 30, 2016

Lady Elewys's Ram's Horn, Baronial award for Concordia of the Snows

The words were based off of Sun Tzu's The Art of War:

"In the valor of our warriors, we hear the echo of the wisdom of Sun Tzu.

Defense is a matter of vital importance to the Barony of Concordia of the Snows, for it is the forum of our life or death - the road to our survival or ruin. The resources of those skilled in extraordinary defense are as infinite as the heavens and earth, as inexhaustible as the flow of the great rivers, for their mighty battle motions are cyclical, recommencing as they end, as the movements of the sun and moon.

The musical notes are only five in number but their melodies are so numerous that one cannot hear them all. The primary colors are only five in number but their admixtures are so infinite that one cannot see them all. In defense there are only the normal and the extraordinary forces, but their combinations are limitless, that none can comprehend them all. Lady Elewys of Anglespur sees that these two forces are mutually reinforcing. She knows that their interaction is as endless as the binding of interlocked rings.

When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing. Thus the momentum of Lady Elewys, as one skilled in the art of defense, is overwhelming, and her attack is precisely regulated. Wise commanders pursue victory through thoughtful selection of their warriors. Thus do We, Jean Paul and Lylie, Baron and Baroness, call this warrior to Our Order of the Ram's Horn, so that one so valiant shall not strive alone, but march in brave company."

I was super stoked about this scroll because, hurray! I could finally use my craft of paper cutting! China had been doing paper cutting since 5 BC at the very least and this woman has a Ming Dynasty persona! So I did my research of paper cutting during the Ming Dynasty. They used everything from brands to pottery designs. So I made a design using paintings and pottery designs and am quite pleased with how it came out. For the calligraphy, I studied a bunch of Chinese symbols and eventually created a flowed hand with brush that were similar to Chinese stylings, but were all our typical ABC alphabet.

Lady Anne's Ram's Horn, Baronial scroll for Concordia of the Snows

The words are based on George Silver's Paradoxes of Defence, from 1598.

"To the noble, victorious, valiant, and most brave Barony of Concordia do We, Jean Paul and Lylie, Baron and Baroness, send greetings.

The noble science of fencing defends the body from wounds and slaughter.
And moreover,the exercising of weapons puts away aches, griefs, and diseases, it increases strength, and sharpens the wits.
It gives a perfect judgement, it expels melancholy, choleric and evil conceits, it keeps a woman in breath, perfect health, and long life.
It puts her out of fear, & in the wars and places of most danger, it makes her bold, hardy and valiant.

Anne De Basillion embodies this knowledge.
Her passions for the art of defence knows no bounds.

We saw her put to trial in proof:
Three bouts apiece with three of the best fencers & three bouts apiece with three unskillful valiant men, and three bouts apiece with three resolute men half drunk.
She did defend herself against these men, and hurt, and won the iron ring of the East.
She is to be honored, cherished, and awarded Our Ram's Horn.

Done this day by Our hand in May of ASLI at Our Wars of the Roses."

The illumination is based on the Ovid, translated by Octavien de St-Gelais in France in the last part of the 15th Century.

Skarphedinn's AoA

Words by Magnus hvmalgi:

"At the Flower-Clash, Skarphedinn inn havi was called before Kenric the king and Avelina the queen. A skald was called to speak on the man's deeds. This is what was said.

of terrible power
crushes our foes,
his fearsome blows
breaking their ranks,
reddening the banks
of Gjöll - the raven

Thunder roars
rankle the boars
to run - a dog
drives through the fog
and the corpse-mud -
cowering from flood,
their hides bear brunt
of Har of the hunt.

Stalwart skilled Skarphedin
stands proud, and skull-laden

This beast of might,
bearing the light
touch of service,
settles the nervous
with gilded voice,
grasping the choice
of peace when force
the plainer recourse.

The wisdom of old -
the ancient gold
breaker's advice -
to bear as ice
the weight of the world
with words furled -
feeds the rowan
a feast to grow in.

Stalwart skilled Skarphedin
stands humble, grace-laden

These things opposed -
proud-strong battle-oak
by fire disposed
to fulsome smoke -
speak of a man
of spear-knowledge
and knowledge-span
like spear-hall edge.

Praise-fit the ash
of ancient roots
that stands in boots
of Bragi and clash
of wounding-poles,
with winding trunk
that battled and sunk
the bravest of souls.

Stalwart skilled Skarphedin
stands - worthy of honor laden

Then all were called to remember the deeds of Skarphedinn and give him his due honor. It was the Time of Remembrance, fifty-one years after the Settling."

The illumination was inspired by the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne documents. The calligraphy was inspired by the Norse runes, created specifically for this scroll.

I worked the entire thing on a piece of goat skin ... parchment? Vellum? Whatever it is, I was worried I couldn't tame it. The thing was frustrating. Trying to flatten it produced weird wrinkles. Writing on it caused it sometimes to work beautiful and sometimes to bubble as if oil was on the skin. But I didn't give up! Why? Because Skarphedinn is an inspiration and he would be proud and overjoyed to know I wouldn't let this scroll best me! And honestly, I'm quite pleased with the result.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

AoA for Léana Doucet

I admit, I don't know everyone. I just don't. So it is no wonder when this scroll assignment came across my desk that I said 'yes, but I don't know who that is!' Thankfully, the description of -why- she was getting the word was so brilliantly inspirational (as they all are, gosh darn it!) and so I knew this was a scroll I wanted to do.

...but I didn't think I had all the time I wanted for the wordsmithing. So I contacted the person who put in the request and words were eventually given to me. In French. Eep! So, then I had to start working on a translation because I don't know French but wanted to make sure the whole scroll had a proper feel to it.

Here are the words that were given to me by Sir Pellandres dit le Frère with a few little tweaks by Dame Bruinissende and Alys Mackyntoich to add in the names of the royalty where they best fit as well as the event place and date:

Il en est une dont les actes, quoique toujours silencieux, ne laissent aucun indifférent. Du chaos naissent l'ordre puis l'action. D'aucun ne savait ce qu'il devait faire, du coup il accompli de grandes choses. Un sourire en coin, elle sait son travail accompli. Certains voudraient la saisir et définir son influence. Nul ne peut ainsi la réduire. Revestant le haume, elle affronte sans doutes les ennemis du Roiaume et assiste à l'entrainement de ses troupes. Hors de la lice elle s'assure que non seulement sa propre personne, mais aussi sa suite, soient couverts de vestiments honorables. Ce sans oublier son amour pour la gens équine, les activités desquelles elle songe établir en ceste principauté et qu'elle introduit à qui veut l'entendre!  N'osant laisser un tel murmure s'élever trop haut et cherchant  plutôt a le transformer en clameurs de joie de la part de leur sujets, Nous, Kenric, Roi du Royaume d'Orient par le droit des armes, et Avelina, de par le même droit notre Reine, de par les ci-présentes lettres accordons à notre sujet Leana Dosquet le droit de porter les armes suivantes:

 Ainsi ordonné en ce 30 avril de la cinquantième année de notre Société dans notre baronnie du Havre des Glaces."

A space was saved where  arms could be placed when the time came that there were registered.

Here is the translation, to the best of my ability, from French into English:

There is one whose acts, though still silent, leave no one indifferent. Born into the chaos, she creates order in action. Where no one else may know what to do, she can accomplish a great many thing. Always with a smile, she goes to her work. Some would try to define its influence, but none may invalidate her labors. Wearing a great helm, she faces without doubt the enemies of the Kingdom and attends the training of its troops. From the lists she ensures that not only her own person, but also those around her, are clothed with honorable vestiments. Without forgetting love for equestrians, whose activities she feels important to the Kingdom, she teaches anyone who will listen! Not daring to leave such a murmur to grow too loud and instead seeking to turn it into joyful clamor from Their subjects, We, Kenric, King of the Kingdom of the East by right of arms, and Avelina, by the same right, Queen, by the following present letters grant Leana Dosquet the right to bear the following arms:

Dated April 30 in the fiftieth year of our Company in our Barony of Havre des Glaces."

The illumination of choice in inspiration comes from the Bible of Borso d'Este, circa 1455.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Order of the Bedchamber

So, I had decided if I had managed to get into the third round at King and Queen's Bardic, that I would put on my resume (and hope to get asked) to do an Order of the Bedchamber piece. We know, from documents of the court, that there were two Skomorokhi in Ivan the Terrible's Order of the Bedchamber (which was a list of all his retinue that did the home tasks that were necessary). And we also know from journals of visitors that Ivan often enjoyed having his Skomrokhi regale him with songs, poetry, byliny, and epic tales - whether they were true or not. Sometimes he would have them recite epics that were well known and loved. But Ivan also enjoyed getting drunk and wearing masks and doing improv with the Skomorokhi, so almost anything is up for grabs.

In either case, for quite some time now I have been taking notes on phrases that would make good 'Order of the Bedchamber' glory to the King type of praise piece. And that is what I offered to do. Although I didn't make it into the third round, I finally decided I would like to try my hand at arranging all the phrases and see if I could make a worthy praise poem for the soon to be King Kenric of the East, as he and his beautiful lady have always been an inspiration to me.

So, based off a variety of byliny, but mostly the Lay of Igor's Campaign, here is the praise piece for Kenric that I wrote, something that would rival the Skomorokhi tales that were told while Prince Ivan languished in his bathing tub in the afternoons.

O you guests, invited guests,
Honored guests, warrior guests.
You are to be told a wonderous thing.
A wonderful thing and it is no trifle.

I speak of our King Kenric.
Swaddled to the sound of trumpets,
Nursed beneath helmets,
Fed at the spear's point.
He has girded his mind with fortitude
And sharpened his heart with valor.

King Kenric will speed like an ermine into the rushes,
Like a white duck onto the water.
He will spring upon his swift horse
And leap from it like a white footed wolf.
He will speed towards the meadows of AEthelmearc
And fly like a falcon beneath the mists
Slaying geese and swans
For his morning, midday, and evening meals.

What is this noise?
What is this ringing I hear far away?

He shouts.
The earth rumbles.
The grass rustles.
The tents stir.

The East advances on the great plain with scarlet shields
Seeking honor for themselves and glory for their King.

The roads are known to them.
The ravines familiar to them.
Their bows are strung.
Their quivers open.
Their sabres whetted.
They race across the land like grey wolves.

But a like battle was never heard of.
From dawn till evening,
From evening till dawn.
Tempered arrows fly.
Sabres thunder against helmets.
Lances of steel crash amid the land.

A blood red glow will herald the dawn.
Black clouds come in from the East
and streaks of blue lightning quiver within them.
There will be a mighty thunder.
Rain will come-
A rain of arrows.
Here lances will break.
Here sabres will strike against foreign helmets.

Brave thoughts carry our minds to action- to war.

Horses neigh beyond the shires.
Glory rings out in the baronies.
Trumpets sound in the cantons.
Standards are raised in Tir Mara.
The countryside is happy.
The cities are joyful.

We praise the deeds of the past.
Glory to Brennan!
Glory to Caoilfhionn!
Now we must honor the present.
Glory to Kenric!
Glory to Avelina!
Long live the King and Queen!
Long live the retinue!

Glory to the East!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Klaus Winterhalter's Tyger's Combattant

I have never done a Tyger's Combattant before and, honestly, when I was given this assignment, I wasn't certain where to start. Fighting, in general, is one of the few parts of the SCA I don't know as much about as I would like, but having done one of the AoA level combat awards, I felt excited and confident that I could do this one justice!

When I typically start a scroll, I start by choosing the words that will inspire me and then choose the manuscript based on the words.

For words, I decided on a letter from Ermengard, Viscountess of Narbonne: To view the original letter, click here.

I worked with the words and eventually the scroll wording read as such:

"To Our most beloved populace, by grace of the East, the most illustrious King Brennan, and his gracious Queen Caoilfhionn, greetings, good health and the magnanimity of the Kingdom.

We desire to protect and defend the East and as necessary, We shall not resist the cries of many. It is said that Klaus Winterhalter does strive to deliver up to Us and Ours both commands and service at many times and places. As his arm has taken up the shield of protection and risen in aid of the East, many have willingly and constantly followed behind his arms and his teachings

We do not speak alone, but all our compatriots are consumed by ineffable joy that We see Our Kingdom, on which the vigor of the Eastern Kings and Queens have conferred the tokens of such honors, another is given such recognition.

Let his vigor therefore assume strength and enter into Our Order of the Tyger's Combatant with a strong arm to repress the boldness of Our enemies and give solace to the worthy hope of Our friends. So We conclude at Our time of the Mudthaw in the Barony of Settmour Swamp. Dated this day of April 2, A.S. L by Our very hands."

Once finished, I decided for an illumination choice the Psalter of Saint Louis, circa 1260. I decided to do the whole thing on parchment to give it more of an authentic feel instead of the watercolor paper I often like to use. Here is the final product:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

King and Queen's Bardic Champions

It is very important to me to start documenting my performances because I have been working so hard on all of them. I have been working hard on how to stand, how to talk, what to wear, what props to use, how to move, etc.

This past weekend, against previous decisions that my life had been too hectic, I decided that I would compete if for no other reason than to be given a venue in which to teach a little bit more about skomorokhi and what/how they did what they did.

For the first round, I did a piece I call The Brave Youth. I decided to incorporate a lot of the movement I learned taking classes from Antonio Fava as well as an extant find mask I had been wanting to make for a long time.

Here is the 13th century 'buffoon' mask, made of leather and found under the floor boards of a cobbler's shop that was excavated.

And here is the mask that I made, using the same measurements as the mask above (16 x 13 centimeters).

The card I handed to the judges with the documentation for my performance read as follows:

"The Brave Youth
Katrusha Skomorokha Negodieva `Doch

Mask based on late 13th century extant find.

"The first known recording of a Russian folktale was made in the sixteenth century by an Italian historian."
"While the east slavic folktale flourished as entertainment ... folktales were enjoyed among all social classes, including the tsar's family."
Johns, Andreas. Baba Yaga. Peter Lang Publishing: New York. 2004. Page 49.

In 1905, an excavation revealed burial mounds of the 11th -12th centuries that bear a striking resemblance to the tales of Baba Yaga, giving us reasonable cause to believe the skomorokhi told the stories to keep the bodies from being disturbed."

Here are a few photos from the performance to show some of the acrobatics used. I geared the performance hoping for children to come forward and enjoy it. I will post a video of the performance once they are available.

My second round piece I had decided on taking excerpts from the Izbornik, a book written around 1076. My documentation for it read:

"Parental Advice
Katrusha Skomorokha Negodieva `Doch

Excerpts from the Izbornik, circa 1076.

"The majority of the people were largely unaffected by the conversion (to Christianity) ... they continued to practice the ancient cult of their ancestors and to call upon the skomorokhi for spiritual guidance."

Zguta, Russel. Russian Minstrels. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1978. Page 15."

Here is what I read:

"Child, in your lifetime test your soul and see what is bad for her and do not give it to her, for not everything agrees with everyone, not every soul enjoys everything. Entice your soul with gladness and comfort your heart, and remove sorrow far from you so that you will not grow old too soon.

Do not be ashamed to stand against the current of the river, or submit yourself to a fool, or court the face of the powerful, but defend truth to the death.

Do not withhold your mercy even from the dead and do not fail those who weep; mourn with those who mourn and do not shrink from visiting the sick, because for those deeds you will be loved. A sweet throat multiplies friends, and a fair speaking tongue multiplies courtesies.

Child, from your youth up choose instruction, and until you turn grey you will find wisdom. Come to her like one who plows and sows and wait for her good crop. In cultivating her you will toil a little while, yet soon you will be eating the good things of her produce. She seems utterly intractable to the uninstructed and the faint of heart will not remain with her but leave; for wisdom is like her name and is not revealed to many.

Put your feet in her fetters and into her collar your neck; put your shoulder under her and carry her, and let her bonds be not to close. Come to her with all your soul and keep her ways with all your might Search out and seek, and she will become known to you. When you get hold of her, you will not let her go, for in the end you will find her rest: she will be changed into joy for you and her fetters will become for you a strong protection and her collar a robe of glory, for upon her is the beauty of gold, and her bonds are a braid of precious stone. You will put her on as a robe of glory and put a crown of gladness on your head.

If you wish, child, you will be instructed, and if you give it your soul, you will become clever; if you love to listen, you will live, and if you incline your ear, you will become wise. Child, stand in the multitude of elders, and if one is wise, cleave to him. Be willing to listen to every narrative, and the precept of insight will not escape you. If you see a wise man, rise early to visit him and let your feet wear out his doorstep.

Above all, child, remember this. Do not hide your wisdom, for wisdom will be recognized by your word. Be firm in your mind, and let your word be one."

Although I did not make it into the third round, I decided that I would begin documenting my resume as well. So my resume was written as such:

Katrusha Skomorokha Negodieva `Doch

A War Song (not period) written by another
" ... foreign influences enabled the skomorokhi to transform themselves ..." page 21

Order of the Bedchamber (period style) praise poem for the King created on the spot
"Of the 188 persons listed under the general heading of the Order of the Bedchamber ... two were skomorokhi." page 54-55

Traditional Russian historical piece (period style)
" ... skomorokhi became heirs to a rich body of oral heroic poetry ..." page 22

Sing-a-long (not period)
"... on occasion Ivan himself (Ivan the Terrible) took part in their (the smokorokhi) entertainments." page 55.

Zguta, Russell. Russian Minstrels. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1978.

The only other thing to explain is the clothing style choice. Skomorokhi, having been nearly banished by the church, took on a lot of repertoire as well as clothing styles from their European counterparts. They took inspiration from anywhere they could get it: Germany, Italy, Greece, China, etc. So I fashioned my garb after these descriptions and the few illuminations we can find of skomorkhi. And yes, there were female skomorokhi.