Monday, July 04, 2016
It's the recognition that you've contributed to the kingdom, and that people around you value your presence and participation.
It's also the award given for those people who are leaving the kingdom.
Because Drachenwald was founded by travellers from other lands, the Crown gives them the PCS, modelled on the US service families' 'Permanent Change of Station', which was at one time a common occurrence.
My home shire of Thamesreach remains a transient place. People come through the city of London for lots of reasons - work, school, European walkabout, and eventually, often have to keep going.
Recently a fine lady and craftswoman, originally from An Tir, Marie de Monte, spent almost 2 years in our shire, and we'll miss her very much.
At Coronet, TRM convened a very brief court in the 'low hall' where many folks of Thamesreach were dining to present Marie with her PCS token. Appropriate shire members were dragged in from the kitchen in to witness, including the recipient.
It had been a long, full day in the kitchens for many folks, including Marie. When she received the token, she said, 'Wow, it's stripy like my socks!' which is the first time I've heard someone remark on its design in such a way. Indeed the badge has 'stripes' of barry wavy in it.
So some of the text of this writ (which I did shortly after the event, so Marie could take it with her) is squeezed into a foot-shape below the stripes...and it says in tiny letters 'Sicut pedules striatos' which is (Google-)Latin for 'stripy like my socks'.
It's on parchment, about 9x14cm, so needs trimming for framing. The ink is my own, plus gouache and commercial ink for the initial and redwork.
Main body of the text, with sigils from Vitus Polonius and Isabel Peregrinus:
Finished piece, with badge that is 'stripy like my socks', and date and event fitted into a foot-ish shape.
Text is one developed by Robert de Canterbury for PCS.
To all present & to come Ys presentes lres reding hering or seeing know by writ and fiat of Yr majesties of drachenwald yt Marie de Monte is honourably admitted, renowned, accounted, numbered and received in ye number and in ye Popular company of sojourners entitled and enjoyned to bear ye token of armes thereof, viz - Barry wavy Ar et Az Flaunched Vert; & is ordained and assigned of All rights, duties, & Customary obligations pertaining to that Company. Loquere mirabilibus ultra mare.
Sicut pedules striatos
done by o(ur) hands xxviij May LI at Buckden Palace
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Initial is in gouache and commercial red ink.
The finished piece is 9x14cm. The borders are indented into the parchment - it needs trimming before framing.
Click to embiggen.
We, Alexandre and Eularia, mighty prince and gracious princess of Insulae Draconis, finding Ourselves in receipt of good reports on the work of Our noble servant James WalthamThe exemplar is the Manesse Codex, from early 14th c.
to wit his service at shire events, his work in our kitchens, and his commitment to the defense of our lands, do award him Arms, viz -
Gules, a ship Or issuant from a ford proper and in chief 3 mullets of 8 points Or.
In witness whereof We have set our hand this 28th day of May, AS LI , at the tourney of succession at Buckden Palace.
Most people know of the wonderful heraldry-rich illumination from the Manesse, but inbetween every beautiful 'picture' page is a full page, sometimes two, of poetry in German, ornamented with puzzle caps and penwork.
The great part of using a German exemplar is that it has lots and lots of Ws to model on - something you have to hunt for in Latin manuscripts. Ws are important for DrachenWald.
Original is available from the facsimile site.
The recipient has handled original manuscripts through his studies, and is familiar with the many shortcuts, abbreviations, acronyms and contractions that historic scribes used to fit text to the space given.
So this piece compresses a longish and wordy text (based on a late 15th c example in English) into the smallest space available - about A5 or half a sheet of standard printer paper - using short forms, symbols and Latin equivalents that are current in early modern English.
For most Society scrolls, you wouldn't dream of shortening the name of the king, the recipient, and the award itself. In this writ I did all these things.
Click to embiggen.
Text only, within its borders.
Text, in regular English:
Vitus, by the grace of might, King of Drachenwald, and Isabel our queen, at the Glen Rathlin Flaming Arrow on the vigil of SS Philip and James the Just AS50, in the first year of our reign the forty-sixth after the foundation.
To the pleasure of our Crown, the surety of this realm and defense of our kingdom, to the singular comfort of all our subjects of the same and in avoiding of all ambiguities and questions,
it is ordained, established and enacted by authority of these witnesses that Alexandre d'Avignon with all the permanence and dignity to the same pertaining be, rest, remain and abide as companion of the Silver Guard, perpetually with the grace of God so to endure and in none other.
Done by our signs manual.
Writ by Genevieve rougemaunche; parchment w/ oakgall ink
Text taken from: Recognition of the Title of Henry VII (1485)
1485. 1 Henry VII. c. 1. 2 S. R. 499.) (Adams & Stephens)
Formatting advice: Arianhwy Wen, called Mala
I consulted HE Arianhwy Wen, who studied early modern English, on these short forms and abbreviations. She wrote out the text by hand and posted it to me. Most keyboards don't have Latin abbreviation symbols on them!
(A few years ago Ari wrote up and taught a class on early modern English and its spellings, posted to Master Robert's Forsooth wiki - you'll see a few of those spellings in this text.)
Thanks to a generous gift from Lady Victoria Alcon de Castile, I now have an ample supply of small pieces of parchment, and get both the joy of using parchment with the challenge of very fine calligraphy.
On parchment, I use a pointed tool (piece of hard wire stuck in the end of a broken arrow shaft, since you ask) rather than a pencil, for marking lines. Many lines you see marked in medieval manuscripts are like this - indentations, rather than surface ones.
To get the text small enough I used a pointed nib rather than a 'round hand' one (which has a flat nib end). After testing several nibs, and a couple of practice runs, I found one that gave 'thicks and thins' in the lines through pressure on the nib, rather than nib angle. I'm really pleased with this find.
The finished piece looks a bit lopsided in the first photo - partly camera angle, partly because the edges of the parchment piece aren't cut straight. I've marked out lines where a framer can trim to finish the piece.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
I find penwork blanks lurking in my scroll folder. This one is based on an item in the BL (cover sheet went w/ recipient), and had a gothic/secretary hand.
Blessedly, it was available for doing a scroll for Double Wars 29.
The Dragon's pride is the arts recognition for young people. I debated about trying to emphasise that the person receiving it was young, and finally decided that she merited the same kind of text that I'd write for an adult.
So this text, originally drafted by Robert de Canterbury, is similar to one I've used for people receiving arts awards in Insulae Draconis. You can tailor it a bit for the recipient.
The recipient came up with her dad and he translated most of the proceedings, and everyone seemed happy with the result.
Make known our royal will
Forasmuch as Artisans Artificers Scholars Craftsmen Cooks Hatters Hosiers Dyers Weavers Broiderers Silkwomen Taylors and all others of fruitfull and creative profession are greatly necessary to the prosperity of our realm;
And that the increase of craft mysteries and secrets amongst the aforesaid Artisans et Alia being likewyse necessary to their continuance;
Vitus et Isabel, dread king and gracious queen of Drachenwald do require our Order of the Dragon's Pride to admit Alexandra af Gotvik as a member of they aforesaid Order;
that the said Alexandra may lawfully share the mysteries & secrets of her arts under the laws articles & customs of the Order;
Done by our hands this VJ day of May as XLI in our host at Double Wars in Attemark.
Calligraphy by Genevieve la flechiere
Illumination by Lady Arianhwy Wen
Text wording drafted by Robert of Canterbury, after 15th c London guild documents
Sunday, November 29, 2015
The other day on twitter, someone commented: "Have you noticed how many images of women conceal their hands? Silencing body language...", and my immediate response was, I can think of plenty of women in medieval MSs whose hands are visible! In reply to that, the suggestion was made that they were all either (a) praying or (b) doing feminine tasks like spinning or baking. So I went to the Manesse codex and pulled out images of women playing chess, women handing out tournament wreaths, women watching tournaments, and then to the British Library and found women holding swords, hitting men, dancing, playing musical instruments, and more.
So I decided this was something that needed some systematic research, and the result of that research is available here. It is incomplete but will be updated as I have time. I've started with the British Library, and so far, I haven't found a single woman whose hands weren't visible -- which means that this collection is going to end up being a pretty extensive one of not only women's hands but women as well. So if you're looking for other information about medieval women -- what they did, what they wore -- check it out, you'll probably find something interesting.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
This is the documentation I submitted to accompany my second attempt at an Arabic scroll, for Drachenwald A&S competition, October AS 50.
Credits: The goodwill and thoughtful, creative help of Sir Garick von Kopke, OP, OL, made this scroll possible.
TextI do not speak or write Arabic, but aspired to write an Arabic scroll for Sir Nasr' ibn Isa's viscounty. I hoped to obtain an Arabic text, and copy it, if it was printed in a passable 'medieval Arabic' font. As it worked out, it was more complicated than that.
His Grace Sir Garick von Kopke, 6th king of Drachenwald, speaks and writes Arabic. He agreed to help me with a text. With some details of the reign of Nasr' & Eleanor Sir Garick created a beautiful history, modelled on the style of early Arabic histories. (NB See previous blog post for the full text.)
He provided me with printable versions in both standard Arabic font (equivalent of Arial in English) and in a font modelled on early medieval Arabic hands - sort of the equivalent of printing a text in a 9th c Uncial Latin font.
In the end I did this scroll twice. I learned so much in the first attempt, that I wanted to do it again, better. The first one is now a promissory note. This second version is better, but still didn't meet my artistic hopes.
Calligraphy researchArab calligraphers train for decades in their art and I knew I could not reproduce these efforts. My research necessarily focused on resources available in English, intended for novices.
Like European Latin scripts, Arabic had developed several distinct 'hands' over time. My interest was in very early Arabic: something compatible for an early Andalusian knight. My research indicated the Kufic hand was the most likely read by Sir Nasr's persona.
Kufic, compared to later cursive scripts, looks stiff, crisp and blocky. It's a contemporary for Roman capitals, and served much the same purpose - it began as a script for carving text in stone, and is thus angular and full of edges and corners.
Like Roman capitals, Kufic is associated with formal texts. Like Roman caps in medieval manuscripts, Kufic remained as the hand for headings and titles of texts, even when the rest of the text was in a cursive hand.
Kufic varies widely in letter height and proportions, its main characteristic being its angular nature. Kufic examples on vellum (very early Q'rans) have fluid corners of letters showing the scribe using the reed to its full capacity, but still emphasises strong uprights and long flat lengths.
- like Hebrew, Arabic is written from right to left
- traditional Arabic 'alphabet' has 28 letters but just 18
'forms' - some letters use the same shape, but add dots to
distinguish one from another, called letter pointing
- certain letters are written differently depending on their
position in a word, with initial, medial and final forms
- Arabic letters have distinctive ligatures; some letters never
join their neighbours but are always 'standalone' letters even in
the middle of a word; if 2 letters look similar it is their
ligatures that tell you what they are
- early written Arabic, like Hebrew, does not include vowels;
the diacritic marks (coloured dots) to indicate vowels, that appear
on many Arab manuscripts, were added later, sometimes centuries
later, to help readers' pronunciation
- modern Arabic now includes adapted letters for 'loan' sounds
that aren't native to Arabic (like P in the name Prothal), and also many
additional orthographic signs to modify pronunciation
The pronunciation can also influence where to apply kashida; long vowels encourage stretched letters to represent the long sound. Knowing where and when to stretch a word attractively is a skill unto itself.
Scroll design features from exemplar: choices and limitationsThe features I wanted to include in Sir Nasr’s scroll, from the 12th c example, were:
- the full text in Arabic with comperable spacing and kashida
- the gold dots that marked the end of sentences (distributed
as evenly and attractively as possible)
- one line in gold to feature a highlight in the story (when
King Prothal rewards Sir Nasr’ with the King’s order of Albion)
– a parallel to a Surah heading
One limitation in recreating this look is that I cannot place the diacritic marks (coloured dots), at all; I do not speak Arabic, and Sir Garick’s text didn’t include them. Similarly, I cannot use pronunciation to guide my use of kashida (stretching letters and words for effect). I can only use the visual placement to balance words across the scroll, and follow the exemplar where possible (eg. seeing which letters were stretched and which were not).
Sir Garick's text included modern orthographic marks. Most of these were not known in early Arabic so while I included them in my first attempt, I dropped them in the second.
Tools and materialsMy choice of tools are a necessary comprimise of materials, time and preparation.
- reed pen: traditional tool for Arabic calligraphy, shaped and
sharpened with my pen-knife
- Higgins India non-waterproof ink
- pergamenata: A3 sheet, landscape, ruled with 3mm writing line
and 4mm space between
- layout tools: ruler, slope, T-square, 2H pencil, eraser,
- gum arabic binder, transfer gold for flat gilding
I tested both flat and the sloped writing surfaces for this work, then used my 30 degree slope, as my reed retained ink and wrote for much longer on a slope. I did the flat gilding on a flat surface.
Looking at medieval examples, I cannot see any layout marks like writing lines and borders that are so important for European manuscripts. I don't know how Arabic calligraphers learned to write so evenly and consistently without them. I ruled and lined my page because I could not have created a consistent result without it.
Methods, mistakes and observationsI started by reading and learning the basics of the Naskh hand, using the British Museum's 'Arabic calligraphy: Naskh script for beginners'.
The joy of using a reed, compared to a quill or metal pen, is that you can push a reed nib as well as pull it. It felt almost naughty to push a pen! but the Naskh hand requires push, pull, twist and sometimes just plain filling in corners.
This Naskh introduction made Sir Garick's printed texts comprehensible, particularly the ligatures. However, the letterforms in Kufic are very different from the Naskh hand. So I ended up learning two Arab alphabets: one Naskh and one Kufic.
For practice, I copied out several pages of Kufic letter for letter. It helped me see small differences between letters that weren't obvious at first. I wrote out a ductus for the alphabet (see ductus page included with scroll) based on one exemplar, and tried to identify the order of pen strokes to use, based on how dark the ink was, which direction the line went.
After this practice, process was:
- print all copies in large font
- on printed copy, mark out texts with English letter names
- mark out sentence endings, orthogaphic marks (though not used), ligatures
- measure line spacing in original and do some test lines for
letter height and number of words per line
- rule a page with a best-guess line spacing based on these
- start calligraphy, letter by letter
My noticeable mistakes came from looking back and forth between my work and the text, and jumping a line of text. I've scraped a lot of mistakes because of confusing a line of text.
My other struggle was with my reed. One risk of using natural materials is that they're not perfectly consistent, and neither is my reed-cutting. As a result I wrote the second half of the scroll with a finer nib point than the first half.
SourcesUS Library of Congress, African and Middle Eastern Division: selections of Arabic, Persian and Ottoman calligraphy http://memory.loc.gov/intldl/apochtml/apochome.html
LoC exemplar: fragment of Koran, 11th to 12th century, Kufic hand (Fig 1)
Joumana Medlej's tutorials about learning Arabic letterforms: excellent, accessible introduction to Kufic lettering http://design.tutsplus.com/series/arabic-calligraphy-for-beginners--cms-737
Wikipedia: basic intro to Arab calligraphy. I wish I'd read this at the start.
Calligraphy qalam: a site about Arab calligraphy, in English http://calligraphyqalam.com/index.html
Calligrapher: How to write Arabic letters. Dr. Khalifa Al-Sheemy. TV series, 1/2 hour episodes.
Arabic calligraphy: Naskh script for beginners. Mustafa Jafar, British Museum Press, 2002.
The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin. Baha' al-Din Ibn Shaddad, translated by D.S. Richards (2002). Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-3381-5.
An Arab-Syrian gentleman and warrior in the period of the Crusades: memoirs of Usamah ibn Munqidh. Usamah ibn Munqidh, translated by Phillip K. Hitti. 1927, 1957, 200.. Columbia UP. ISBN 0-231-12125-3.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
- creating an illumination drawing on several examples from one source, the Manesse codex
- paying close attention to shading, and the order of colour layers
- asking Ladies Agnes des Iles and Sela de la Rosa to provide a scroll text
IlluminationFor the figure I wanted a lady on a horse, and ideally a dog too; a tree to carry the acorns and oak leaves (badge of the order), and a border that had gold, blue and black for Insulae Draconis.
There are a couple of horses modelled like this in the codex - the figures for both humans and animals are very consistent through the codex. The horses' faces are wonderful.
I also noticed that the figures' hands were basically mittens - the details (and there are lots of details in the finished pieces elsewhere in the MS) all come later. But it's ok to start with mittens.
For guidance on painting medieval faces, I've long referred to On Visage, an article written by Dame Merouda Pendray, back when the internet was young, hence the Wayback Machine reference. Her article meant painting faces, for me, went from impossible to do-able, if still requiring care.
TextFor this text I contacted a couple of poets, Lady Agnes and Lady Sela, who agreed to work on a text compatible with the early 14th c image, to celebrate a lady's virtues. I didn't expect them to write it in middle English but sometimes you take a gamble...Agnes sent me the finished piece, and I hope I did it justice.
Ichot a byrde in bourë bryght
Gentil maide that lemëth light
Hire name is Catlin le Mareschale
She is trewë frovringe flour of alle
This stedfast styward is mercie of mede
Rekene as Regnas resoun to rede.
Of every kinnë foul in frith
As faucon she is fyn and swift.
This lufsom lady is leflich in londe
For ryghtfulnesse and beuté
Prowesse, largesse and leauté
Menskful maide, fre to fonde.
I wolde nempnë hyre to-day
Ffraid is the name of that fairestë may.
I know a lady in a bower bright
Gentle maiden who shines light
Her name is Catlin le Mareschale
She is a true comforting flower of all
This steadfast steward is gracious in favours
Ready as Ragna to give advice
Of every kind of bird in the woods
As a falcon she is fine and swift
This lovely lady is beloved everywhere
for uprightness and beauty
excellence, generosity and loyalty,
A noble lady, gracious to know.
I would name her today
Ffraid is the name of that fairest maid.
The text is adapted from several lyrics dedicated to adoration of ladies, found in section I of Medieval English Lyrics and Carols, ed. by Thomas G. Duncan (D.S. Brewer, Cambridge, 2013). The spelling follows the practice of late 14th-century London English. To retain the flavour of the originals I have tried to preserve alliteration where possible, as well as the original conventions and vocabulary.
Ragna: the early-twelfth-century wise woman who appears in the Orkneyinga Saga, c. 1200. (http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~wpwt/harl2253/ichot/ichotnn.htm, n.42)
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Some pics on Flickr of the top half of the indenture: it was written out twice then cut in half, at our ceremony at Raglan.
- a 14th c indentureiv between 2 noblemen that covered their term of services, rate of pay, and benefits - essentially their terms and conditions for going to war.
- a late 14th c statutev that controlled who can give livery (clothing identifying their followers), in an attempt to prevent certain nobles raising private armies; and requiring that those dependents would not then pursue nuisance court cases against their patron's opponents.
- a 14th c gild ordinancevi that states that gild brothers and sisters must admonish each other charitably (possibly suggesting they keep internal grievances between themselves rather than going to the courts).
Tailoring text to recipients
- 'dalta' is an Old Irish term for 'student of the bard' chosen as suitable for Aodh's early Irish persona. A dalta might (or might not) eventually become a bard, but at minimum got a solid education.
- 'in peace and in war' means that Genevieve expects Aodh to continue to shoot, and to authorise in armoured combat, for the defense of the principality, just as she trains in art of defence
- 'charity and hospitality' refers to the typical work of a Pelican: making people welcome, ensuring everyone is fed and clothed, organising activities, building community
- 'admonishing charitably' refers to the role Genevieve plays as the patron for Aodh
This indenture being made between Genevieve la flechiere, Viscountess and peer of Drachenwald by letters patent on the one part and Lord Aodh O Siadhail on the other part, testifies that the said Lord Aodh stall stand in service to the said viscountess for peace and for war for the term of one year and one day following the date of this document
The lord Aodh having the estate of dalta, and being retained with the said viscountess of the ancient house of Sylveaston for the said term by indenture without fraud or evil device, shall be accorded all the customary rights and privileges, vis of livery, maintenance, counsel, instruction, advancement and defense against unjust harm.
The lord Aodh shall in turn accord the said visountess with service in matters of charity and hospitality at such occasions and tourneys as they shall be mutually conveniently present therat.
The lord Aodh shall also afford the viscountess Genevieve support in matters touching court, law and custom, and the management of her estate as are within his normal competence.
He is bound not to be a maintainor, instigator, barrator, procuror or embraceor of quarrels and inquests in the country in any manner, and shall not know or understand of any manner thing to be attempted, done or spoken against Viscountess Genevieve's person or honour but he shall let and withstand the same to the uttermost of his power.
Should the lord Aodh be in any error or found in any detestable crime, as soon as Viscountess Genevieve knows it she must admonish the lord Aodh charitably that he may gain from it.
Done before noble witnesses this nones of August AS 50, at ffair Raglan.
Document and calligraphy
- Base: heavy pergamenata, 10”x14”, landscape orientation, pounced with cuttlefish bone, gum sandarac, and pumice powder, then ruled 3mm writing line & 4mm spacing.
- Ink: Roberson's logwood black
- Pen: dip pen with gold plated nib, sized for the line height
- Hand: proto-Gothic, known in England from 11th to 14th c, the hand I find easy and fast for long texts.
The biggest challenge of this project was spacing, because it was a long text I had to write twice. I'm accustomed to long texts, but usually only write them once. I'm so used to this that I didn't do a test piece to measure my spacing.
A careful calligrapher takes a small test piece, rules it with the selected spacing and sees how many words fit into a few lines, and then calculates how many lines the text will take. In this case I needed 2 copies of text plus a large space in the middle for the indented cut.
Without a test piece, I made 2 false starts before choosing the spacing that would allow all the text and a space for the indent.
Lesson learned: don't be lazy. Do a test piece and save time.
ii Brown, M.P., A Guide To Western Historical Scripts From Antiquity to 1600, British Library, 1990, pp. 78-9.
iii Indenture by Robert de Canterbury: http://forsooth.pbworks.com/w/page/34953753/Vitus%20and%20Katherine
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Short version: I delivered 2 promissory notes at Raglan ffair last weekend.
One was on a wax tablet: a promissory text for Countess Eleanor d'Autun, for her viscounty scroll. When it's actually done, I can reclaim the tablet. :-)
One was a scroll, long planned in collaboration with HG Sir Garick von Kopke, 6th king of Drachenwald; he wrote the beautiful text, and translated it into Arabic so I could copy it, based on a 12th c exemplar.
Because I learned a lot in the process, by the time I finishe the work, I wasn't happy with it and wanted to start all over...but of course, was up against a deadline and could not take the time to do so.
So I offered the first work as a promissory; committing to do the clean copy by Crown, hopefully to submit in A&S at the same time.
In the meantime, I can summarise the project as:
- get bright idea
- get help with bright idea
- do initial research on bright idea
- discover just how much work bright idea entails, what was I thinking??
- be too stubborn to give up bright idea
- get brilliant text that deserves writing and beautiful 12th c exemplar to work from
- start practicing text and get feel for it, realise why Arab calligraphers are rare and cherished
- start scroll because of self-imposed deadline
- finish scroll within self-imposed deadline but unhappy with finished work, now that I know more about how to do it better
- decide it's a promissory because I can do better
I've put some pictures together on Flickr. I'm not a very good photographer-in-process, so this isn't complete - just some highlights.
Parsing Arabic into mostly-equivalent-Latin letters, in 2 different fonts...with some help:
My desk, with copies of exemplar, my ductus, my text...and a long G&T:
Desk view: the calligraphy, the text with parsing, and the ductus:
The finished piece, with flash:
What I want to share most, though, is the text that HG Sir Garick composed, as a tale of Sir Nasr's time as prince. It's written in the style of the early Arab histories (comperable to tales about Saladin, for instance) and took a bare list of events and turned it into something beautiful.
HLady Lyonet SanzMerci read it in court with all the flair I expected.
It is as follows: what Robert called The most excellent History of the Deeds of the Emir Nasr Ibn Isa Abu Haroun, May he rest always upon the Divan of Peace.
Men marvel at the deeds of ancient kings and princes. One such was Nasr Ibn ´Isa, known among his confidants as abu Haroun. In the ancient days the Islands of Dragons, it was held that the most powerful warrior was most fit to lead the army in time of need.
Thus did Prince Duncan and his Lady Eibhlin hold a great contest of combat in the far northern portion of the greatest island of his realm. Some say that he choose this location and the time in the deep of winter that it serve as a test of will, limiting the contest to only the most hardy and worthy. Others say that he simply choose this time and place as it was in his nature as a native of the northern lands, but god alone knows all. What man knows is that Nasr was among those who strove in that great combat, and did great honor to the Lady Eleanor. Thus was he named as captain of the host, and in due time he and his lady did ascend to the seat of justice when Duncan and Eibhlin retired.
Many are the tales told of Nasr, Prince of men. Of the epithets given him , the most apt was “far traveler.” More lands did he visit than there are stars in the sky or sands on the beach. Not enough for him was to roam the lands, settled and wild, of Insulae Draconis, no. He traveled by steed and by ship, visiting far islands of his governerate and the wild island of ice and fire in the middle of the great ocean.
He attended the great fair of Raglan, where he led his troops in mighty battles and displays of arms. Outnumbered and meeting experienced warriors on the field, his troops took heart and were loyal. They thrived under his wise guidance and were faithful to the last fighter, and together lived to fight again. At length he came even to the mighty meridian lands, where he strove in combat and in council on behalf of his King and his people.
Yet for all this, he was best known in the heart of his holdings for his justice, and his for love of the hunt. His skill with the noble bow and the art of falconry were on the lips of all, and those of his lady the Princess turned up in joy at the sight of him. It was his justice that most benefited the land, for on all of his travels he held court, dispensing unto all that which was their due. The scrolls bearing his seal of witness yet hang from the walls of the mighty to this day, in every stretch of the dragon islands.
At length Prothal, the King of Kings, noting all that Nasr had done for the land and for the people, did grant him great honor, gifting him robes and naming him Companion of the Noblest Dragon. These gifts were among His Majesty's final act upon the great seat of rule. Inspired by Duncan and Prothal's example, and in thankfulness to the granter of mercy, Nasr too found it right to end his time before the people and to pass on the burden of governance to another.
Thus he too held a great combat, with his Princess by his side, and found for them most noble heirs, the true decendants of the first King and Queen to rule the lands, in the the most ancient times when the dragon island had been but a small town in the south of the great isle. Well pleased with their heirs, Nasr and Eleanor determined to leave the seat of struggle to them and to retire to the divan of rest.
In token of all that he had done of justice and of councils and of striving in tournament and in war, Prince Elfinn and Princess Allesandra Melusine did grant unto the noble Nasr ibn 'Isa a coronet of silver and did raise him up among the exalted nobles, naming him “Viscount” after the manner of the Franks.
It is said that at this time, twice in two weeks did stars rain down from heaven, and the astronomers did proclaim that the first of these rains was granted by god in honor of Viscount Nasr and his lady for all that they had done, and the second was in honor of Prince Elfinn and his lady in recognition of the justice of their proclamation that was in accordance with god's will. But as for abu Haroun, done was he with the trials of such mighty signs, and he simply lifted his falcon high in salute and laughed with his lady as he rode to the hunt.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
some time ago I finished one of my backlog assignment. Vrank von Attendorn's Dragon's Bowle. When it was signed by the King and Queen that handed out this award, I sent it off to the recepient. Now last week I recieved a little package and when I opened it I found a thank you note from Vrank including a personalized medieval fire starting kid. I was so wonderfully surprised I thought I would share.
And that's what I sent to him:
More pictures can be found here: http://kunst-stueckchen-kalligrafie.blogspot.de/2015/03/medieval-faces-mittelalterliche.html
Now I just have to figure out how to start a fire! ;-)
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Saturday, January 24, 2015
This proved an excellent way to spend an hour chatting about our favourite topics, and demonstrated clearly to me that when you put 3 chatty scribes together you get 4 different ways to draw a straight line.
It was delightful.
Lady Tamara asked an excellent question about 'what basic tools do I need to start?' She was interested in both calligraphy and illumination. Sure enough, she got different advice from different people, but it's still a useful starting point.
SO: I'm posting my idea of a complete novice's kit for Western European calligraphy, that you could buy online for less than £25 or around 33 Euro.
I shop in the UK, so this list relies on UK supplier examples, but I'm hoping folks in Germany, Sweden and Finland can comment on their favourite shops and any special terms in other languages to look for.
- This post doesn't cover items like rulers, pencils and erasers. They too are important tools and you can get wonderful specialist versions to make scribing easier, but you can start with whatever pencil, eraser and straight edge you have in the house.
- I used a dip pen to learn calligraphy. While I've tried fountain pens, I prefer my dip pen as an adaptable flexible tool, and teach others the same way.
It's closer to the quill, which is the ideal medieval tool but isn't for everyone. Your mileage may vary.
Nibs: lots to choose fromFor starting calligraphy look for edged nibs, described in English as 'round hand' or 'Italic' nibs: these have a square end, in varying widths. Nice explanation on Scribblers blog. You can get nibs cut on an angle for left-handed scribes, but a lefty can use a square nib, and turn the page to get the correct angle.
Pointed nibs are for copperplate and 'spencerian' (18th and 19th c) calligraphy, and for medieval penwork and flourishing, but not typically for the writing-letters part.
Nibs are about 60 to 80p each. You can buy a single brand's set plus reservoir for about £8. You won't need all of them for scribing SCA scrolls, but it's easiest to learn with a wide nib and work your way 'down' to a small one.
Rerservoirs are small clips that attach to the nibs, to help the nib hold more ink. Find the ones that fit your brand of nib.
Nib holdersStrictly speaking you only need one holder and can keep changing nibs, but that's not much fun.
I do recommend buying solid plastic or wood penholders (the Speedball holder at £1.60 is the best I've found), rather than the standard round penholder, at £1.85, or a lot more) which has an insert that rusts on first use. Don't be seduced by pretty coloured handles!
If you want a holder for every nib, buy a pack of wood penholders 12 for £10.
A hexagonal (£3.90) or triangular (£2.10) holder gives you 'edges' to hang onto - these can help you keep control of the angle of the nib, but cost a bit more.
InksPortentially very confusing because of the range available from traditional to modern.
Here's an example page from a UK shop with a range of inks.
Important terms (in English) to look for:
Inks for calligraphy, for dip pens. Drawing ink is usually thinner and runnier than calligraphy ink and doesn't give the same dense, opaque lettering. However, just to be confusing, some inks are described as suitable for both drawing and calligraphy.
Waterproof (sometimes called permanent) and non-waterproof: waterproof ink usually has shellac or a hardener in it. If you spill it, it will not come off your clothes, furniture, pets or children.
Non-waterproof is a water-based ink without a hardener: if you spill it you can still mop it up while it is wet. It may become permanent when it dries but you have a hope of getting it off the tiles and table if you catch it when it spills. Ask me how I know...
Personally I prefer non-waterproof inks because of this very reason. While any ink will build up on your pen nib and you need to clean the nib periodically, non-waterproof washes off with soap and water, while waterproof needs a solvent.
Indian, Chinese, or Japanese ink: these terms usually describe an opaque black ink, fine for calligraphy. But it can still vary whether they are waterproof or not, so check the bottle. Chinse and Japanese inks can come in a stick you have to grind and mix yourself, something I've not tried yet.
For beginners I recommend non-waterproof liquid ink for calligraphy, so you spend more time doing letters and less time preparing materials.
Iron gall ink or oak gall ink are excellent medieval-style inks and I use them a lot.
Cornelissen has a nice selection of 'traditional' inks that I've tried: my favourites are the Hax Ink, the Scriptorium Oak Gall, and the Roberson Logwood black.
Be aware that oak and iron gall inks are slightly acidic so they can damage your pens if you let the ink dry on them. Always clean your pens thoroughly.
Acrylic inks have beautiful colours, but acrylic is a completely modern material. I recommend using the available plausibly-period inks rather than acrylic.
If you spend about £5 on pen nibs, £2 on a holder, £5-8 on ink, you still have money for
PaperPergamenata is my preferred material for scribing: it's a type of artificial parchment from Fabriano that takes ink and gouache well and that I can scrape, a little, like parchment.
It comes in 2 weights (230 grams per square metre, gsm, and 160gsm). The heavier weight is good for scrolls, the light one for 'letters' or cards - it's a bit light for scribing for me.
It comes in large sheets, £2.26 each, that can make between 4-8 scrolls depending on what size you want: 3 A4 scrolls, and 3 smaller ones, plus scraps. That's a lot of scrolls.
Another good paper is heavy watercolour paper, made by Arches or Fabriano. Look for a watercolour block, where the paper is stuck together in a solid block. Watercolour artists can use this as a portable drawing board; usually scribes slice off the top page with a craft knife to use one at a time.
It's 300gsm, where typical printer paper is 75-100gsm.
The hot press (HP) paper has a smooth surface good for calligraphy; the cold press (CP or NOT, meaning 'not hot press') is rougher and while it's good for painting on, it's harder to calligraph. I can't scrape my mistakes off paper, but I can paint over them.
High-quality paper, made with linen or cotton rag not plant fibres, is more expensive than pergamenata (putting me over my ideal budget), but is easier to find.
Any craft has its own special vocabulary and scribing and fine art is no different. Part of learning an art is learning the language and terms for its special tools and materials, and these are not always explained in the shop.
This week I found a gem: a small guide to calligraphy written by William Michell Calligraphy, just 12 pages long. Mistress Bridget had shared pages of it with me before, but I'd never found the whole guide.
Reading it all I think it's the best short introduction to calligraphy in English that I've found.
There's some instructions on painting Lombardic capitals and Roman capitals 'signwriter fashion' - using a brush, not a pen, with the brush hand leaning over and supported by your off hand - which is a method I'd not seen explained really well before.
Some gaps in the text: not a lot about line heights, not a lot about layout.
But you could do a lot of calligraphy armed only with this work and a set of line height guides.
I don't know when it was written - sometime after 1925! otherwise I'm uncertain. There's no copyright date or ISBN.
It cost me £4.95.
Unfortunately I cannot find it in the Cornelissen's catalogue, but you can email them for info.
On line heights:
Scribblers.co.uk have a line-height generator, for printing out a half-page of lines at specific line heights, which is a boon. (Check your printer settings to make sure it prints as-is, and doesn't resize the page between A4 and 8.5x11".)
Friday, December 19, 2014
Through Twitter I've found nifty other blogs and tweeters:
- A clerk of Oxford: Blog http://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.co.uk/ and Twitter https://twitter.com/ClerkofOxford
- Sexy Codicology: Blog http://sexycodicology.net/blog/posts/ and Twitter https://twitter.com/SexyCodicology
- Robert Miller: Twitter https://twitter.com/robmmiller
- Damien Kempf: Twitter https://twitter.com/DamienKempf
Deep Blue C http://t.co/4EXaQamkw2 pic.twitter.com/FXrogIm02y
— Jesse Hurlbut (@jessehurlbut) December 19, 2014
Link to original: Graduale cisterciense. XIIe s. (3e quart, avant 1174)
If there are more sources of good commentary, images and manuscript geekiness you love, please leave a comment!
Saturday, December 13, 2014
This Coronet past I did a Fox for Constanza of Thamesreach, based on this initial here . It started out badly: the gilding was poor; for the first two lines of callig the ink and nib would NOT cooperate. But then it got better and the calligraphy turned out very well, as did the sheep. So I spent an hour with the scalpel and got it back to pasing the arm's-length test.
I made it landscape instead of portrait for focus reasons. I wanted people to see the initial and then the sheepie as an after-reaction, which was succesful. I used silver paint instead of silver leaf because of time constraints and because of the tarnish factor. I think this was the wrong choice, sadly.
The hand looks like pretty standard Caroline, but the Rs and Ss look transitional from insular minuscule.
Friday, December 12, 2014
At ID coronet two weeks ago, my evil twin was made a member of the Orden des Lindquistringes, and I had the privilege of doing her scroll. My exemplar, Oxford Bodleian MS Auct. D.4.6., had a large font with a lot of space between the lines, which spaces were filled up with a gloss in a much smaller font. In my interpretation of this, I wrote the text in Latin and then "glossed" it in English -- a proper gloss, part translation, part commentary. I posted the scroll to the SCA Scroll Gallery group on FB, and in commentary on it, someone asked for evidence for similar bilingual interlinear glosses. In the course of rounding up examples, I decided the thing to do was the write a blog post about them.
It's easy to find monolingual interlinear glosses; my exemplar was one. Introduction to Manuscript Studies by Raymond Clemens & Timothy Graham, has a number of other examples, as well as discussion, on pp. 39-43 and pp. 182-183. It took a bit more digging to find bilingual ones, but the results are fascinating:
- Oxford Bodleian MS Auct. D.2.19, a Latin Bible with an Anglo-Saxon gloss.
- BL Cotton MS Nero D IV, Latin with Old English gloss; see also here, and here.
- MS Cotton Vespasian A.1, fol. 24r, Latin with Old English gloss; see also here.
- Oxford Bodleian MS Bodley 163, Latin with Old English gloss
- BL Add MS 37517, Latin with Old English gloss
- Spanish glosses on Latin texts.
- Hebrew with Latin gloss
- Latin with Old English gloss
- Codex Boernerianus, Latin/Greek bilingual
- Oxford Bodleian Codex Vossianus, Latin with Old English gloss.
And while not exactly about glosses, this has some lovely examples of bilingual texts.
For further reading, consult:
- "Latin and Vernacular Glossing", ch. 1 of Teaching and Learning Latin in Thirteenth-century England: Texts by Tony Hunt.
- The Culture of Translation in Anglo-Saxon England, by Robert Stanton, starting at p. 34
- "The Aldhelm Glosses" in The Intellectual Foundations of the English Benedictine Reform, by Mechthild Gretsch.
- "Syntactical Glosses in Latin Manuscripts of Anglo-Saxon Provenance", by Fred C. Robinson, Speculum 48, No. 3 (Jul., 1973), pp. 443-475.
Thursday, December 04, 2014
Recent AoA given at Coronet tourney in Insulae Draconis:
The original is part of Arundel 91, one of my go-to sources.
The original is f.145.
I'm still searching for The Perfect Red(tm); the red that matches the red in the manuscript, which is bright without being vermilion, and is slightly translucent.
I've shopped around...and am still trying to find my perfect match.
It was these recent AoAs that prompted me to ask if scribes would be happy filling in armory and blazons in existing scrolls, and the response so far is overwhelmingly yes. I'm heartily glad of it.
BE IT KNOWN that We, Leif and Morrigan King and Queen of Drachenwald, finding Ourselves in receipt of good reports on the work of Our noble servant
Mícheál of Dun in Mara
concerning his service at shire events, his work in our kitchens, and his commitment to the defense of our lands, do award him Arms.
In witness whereof We have set our hand this 29th day of November, Anno Societatis XLIX in the second year of our reign, at Insulae Draconis tournament of succession and Yuletide University.
Courtesy of Manuscript Art blog: some lovely fluid Romanesque capital letters in Greek and Latin. For the hard-to-find Ks, Ws, Xs, Ys and Zs in your life.
Pontificale Senonsense, dated 1175-1300.
...and in Latin
Monday, December 01, 2014
A favourite style, with new touchesThis is an AoA given this past weekend at Insulae Draconis Coronet tourney.
I've done several scrolls modelled on the same manuscript, a copy of Chaucer's translation of Roman de la Rose Hunter 409, at UGlasgow.
I love it because it is mostly calligraphy, the illumination is very light, and there's lots of white space.
Example of original, f 19:
For this scroll, I used a quill throughout for the calligraphy. The quill softened a bit through the work, so the lettering isn't as crisp at the bottom as at the top.
I also gilded the initials rather than using gold gouache. I'm (still) using a modern gesso, so it is not mirror-polished as it should be, but it held up well.
I'm more comfortable handling gold than I was when I started using this MS as an example; it doesn't scare me anymore.
The grubbiness in the image is from the scanner, not the scroll!
Here's the text of the scroll, based on one of my favourite sources, Castiglione's book of the courtier: his appendix includes a list of virtues in a courtier and in a waiting gentlewoman, explaining what a literate Renaissance man thought were important character traits. In the text, letter Y stands in for the 'thorn' letter.
From ye prince and princess to whom these presents show God grant you good health & peace be upon you.
Having heard ye goodly reports of ye gentlewoman Sela de la Rosa, to wit – being well born, of a good house and wel brought up, having the vertues of the minde, being learned and havinge a sweetenesse in language and a good uttrance to entertein all kinde of men with communicacion woorth the hearing, devisinge verses and poesie to the joy of the companie, she apparail herself so in meete garmentes that best become her of some darkish and sad colour, not garish.
In our sight she hath made her self beloved for her desertes, amiablenesse, and good grace, not with anie uncomelie or dishonest behaviour, or flickeringe enticement with wanton lookes, but with vertue and honest condicions.
Therefore that alle these facions, skills & virtues may be commune to a greate many we Nasr and Eleanor, prince & princess of Insulae Draconis, do award her armes with Alle rights and priveleges, etc.
Done this xxix day of Novembre AS XLIX at Yuletide University.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Gouache and oak -gall ink on pergamenata. Took about 40 hours to do this scroll which was way over my initial estimate but the tiny shading takes a log time especially as it is all layers upon layers.