This post is a stopgap, til I get a chance to write more fully about this project.
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.