“All I wanted was a cloak!” Part I: The research.

Really, that’s it. A cloak.

I mean, I have one, it’s a basic generic black wool with a lined hood and shoulder seams. I made it about 10 years ago and it’s still going strong. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s also not any particular period. Since I’ve been digging into Byzantine outerwear, I’m trying to discover what my persona would have worn, as well as other options in cloaking and coating for both men and women. It does snow in Constantinople, not a lot, but it does, as seen in this modern photograph of the Hagia Sophia from Wikipedia:

Meanwhile, in New Hampshire:

10923207_10152797109563143_6536709114114551622_n
This is actually the balcony of my apartment after the 2nd snowstorm this month. Today we’re getting the 4th foot+ blast. I want to cry.

Outerwear is important, just as much then as it was now. I plan on keeping my first cloak for outside use when the weather is exceptionally foul, but to have one for nicer occasions outside in the cold or inside cold venues will help complete my look as a properly dressed 11th Century Eastern Roman woman.

This post serves as a cautionary tale into how looking for a simple garment can turn into a whirlwind of research that you didn’t expect. This is the method to my madness.

First I picked up the Byzantine cloak clasp offered by Raymond’s Quiet Press, you can buy your own by clicking on the pic.

In addition to some wool and trim, I had the materials necessary to get started.

I never intended on this to become any sort of research project, I just wanted a cloak. So a fast search on the internet came up first with what I always refer to as the paludamentum in Latin, or a chlamys in Greek, a male cloak fastened at one shoulder, such as in the mosaic of Justinian and his entourage at Ravenna, but the women in Theodora’s mosaic are wearing wrapped shawls,  EXCEPT for the Empress herself, who is also in a chlamys. I haven’t seen too many images from the 11th Century in which these are worn by anybody other than the imperials. It seemed to have evolved from daily wear of even lower office holders (for men!) into ceremonial dress for high court functions.  This theory is supported by Maria Parani in Reconstructing the Reality of Images: Byzantine Material Culture and Religious Iconography 11th-15th Centuries, which I was able to snag on interlibrary loan to begin preliminary research on my Master’s Thesis.

Michael VII Doukas wearing the chlamys, while his attendants wear mandyas, or front closed cloaks. From Coislin 79, f. 2r. Shown in Parani, page 11.

Parani discusses briefly in her chapter on the Imperial Costume that the empress was invested in the chlamys, but probably did not wear it otherwise.[1] So as tempting and shiny as the garment is, unless you are the queen of your SCA kingdom and it’s your coronation, or some extremely important court event, you probably should avoid wearing this garment. Even for men, if you’re middle period (10-12th century) Byzantine and not a king, I’d skip this. It’s just too presumptuous.

Moving away from this idea, there’s the paenula, which is the traditional Roman hooded cloak that dates from antiquity.

JME_Paenula
Image found in a search online with the search page Hedgy.com, but it would not load.

 

The only time you see this worn by a woman in any art is by the Virgin Mary and other ecclesiastical women in icons. Avoid this one too. Not only was it out of style pretty early on for both genders, and you wouldn’t want to commit the sin of wearing such an outdated fashion, but the Romans had a very high regard for their iconographic imagery, and this is another one of those things you should just avoid wearing.

Timothy Dawson argues that the practicality of such a garment would be useful, but evidence of its wear in period in scarce[2]. I agree with him here, though I assert that the reason for such scarcity would be the connection to the Virgin, and therefore making the garment a symbol of her own connection to the past. For women who wish to cover their heads in a simple, demure fashion both indoors and out, a veil or wrapped shawl/palla works just fine.

Moving away from the chlamys and paenula, the other option would be the half-circle cloak.

The same images on Dawson’s website over at Levantia.com.au are also in his article within the Varieties of Experience book cited above. So went to myself, “Oh look, there’s a cloak. Sold.”

Finally, a design that was easy and period, and above all, not being presumptuous in rank, all I really need. It’s not like I wanted to put in more research that I really needed for a cloak, but I do like to check the primary sources to get ideas for embellishments and the like. So Plate 10 in “Woman’s Dress in Byzantium” matches the same that he has on the page for “A Typical Middle Byzantine Outfit” here: http://www.levantia.com.au/clothing/reddress.html.[3] This is where my confusion set in. On his page, Dawson refers to this as a mantion, and cites a page from the 1839 edition of De Ceremoniis for the source on this. Fair enough.

I dig up the ebook on Google Books, and begin translating the ecclesiastical Latin of Reiske’s commentary on the page cited, and found that there was nothing of the sort there, in fact, it’s about pyrotechnics, Persians,  and contains a great deal of commentary on a primary source in Arabic. It is unclear from Dawson’s footnote if this is volume one or two, and since two is the only one I can ever find copies of, I went with that. Just to be sure, I searched the document on Google Books for the Greek spelling of mantion, μάντιον, as Dawson suggested on his page, and found nothing. So then turned back to “Women’s Dress in Byzantium” and found that his research was inconsistent in the section where he discussed cloaks and mantles on page 48. In the actual printed article, the word “mantion” isn’t even mentioned, and instead he uses “mandyas,” and supports this through several citations of manuscripts. The book may be a few years older than the webpage, which was last modified in November 2013 according to the page info, but I’m still not 100% sure on why Dawson changed the name between publications. If I can locate the correct supporting evidence in De Ceremoniis, I will know for sure. Until then, I’m chalking it up to a simple error in the footnote that is leaving the source vague. Parani supports the use of mandyas as the correct term.[4]

Now, a mandyas I know is the modern ecclesiastical cloak of the same cut. It’s basically a half circle ornamented in a variety of ways, draped over the shoulder and pinned in front. That’s it. The design is frankly, timeless.

I did some searching for Dawson’s cited manuscripts and couldn’t locate most of them online. This is a common hurdle, as not all libraries have been digitized yet, but fortunately for all of us in the future, they will be. Even the Vatican is digitizing their manuscript library. Even though my initial searches were fruitless, I did find some neat sources for future perusing. I did have some luck with the Menologion of Basil II, which does have its own Wikipedia page for those seeking instant gratification, and found a couple of images, including the empress in a chlamys and a sainted nun in a paenula. What I needed though was evidence of women of aristocratic status wearing it, and folio 98 delivered. Both Dawson and Parani cited this image, and Parani included it in her book.[5]

Melania_the_Younger,_nun_of_Rome_(Menologion_of_Basil_II)
St. Melania the Younger from the Menologion of Basil II. To me it looks like she’s in a paenula.
theophano_himation
Empress Theophano from the same manuscript. Notice how her chlamys is fastened on her right shoulder. A women wearing this in artwork signifies the empress.
ag-Pelagia
Folio 98 of the Menologion of Basil II, featuring St. Palagia before and after she is called to God.

This image above shows both a saint and a laywoman. The haloed saint Palagia wears the hooded paenula, while the woman in the middle, whom I’m assuming is Palagia repenting her sins before converting and devoting her life to God, is secular dress, and, tada! Wearing a mandyas.

Another image that supports the wearing of this style of mantle is one that I’ve previously shown during my research of the propoloma are the donor frescoes of Irene Gabras, and Anna Radene in its full form. The one of Radene shows the traditional thick trim outside, as well as an elaborate lining  behind the magnificently large sleeves of her red 12th Century delmatikion.

NK2HVE00
Irene Gabras, image borrowed from 1186-583.org.
radene-full
Anna Radene from the church of Sts. Anargyroi in Kastoria, Macedonia. Image found on Surprisedbytime.blogspot.com, but the church also has a smaller image here: http://www.macedonian-heritage.gr/HellenicMacedonia/en/img_C252a.html

 

These three sources span the period from 1000-1180, so it’s safe to say that this garment was very much in style for probably a fair portion of the 10th Century, the duration of the entire 11th Century and into the 12th. All three are featured within Parani’s book.[6] Since my persona is a woman who could have served as a zoste patrikia such as the likes of Radene, it is safe to assume that wearing the mandyas in her style would not be presumptuous, and therefore the route I should take.

Now, I have already been asked, “What makes a mandyas different from a chlamys?”

This is a good question.

Both historians I have cited, primarily Parani as she has focused on the differences in both imperial and aristocratic dress, agree that the chlamys is absolutely imperial only. Descriptions lead me to believe that the broaching at the right shoulder, as well as the addition of the traditional ornamented panel, the tablion, are the single most important things one needs to pay attention to when making cloaks for  themselves.[7] It was extremely ornate, and not practical in any sense of the word for wearing outside of high court ceremonies.[8] So in theory, this thing was probably so heavily laden down with jewels and metals that not only was it out of the price range of anything but the imperial family, but also its sheer weight was probably enough to keep the wearers indoors. I also believe that since the Roman paludamentum, which is essentially the same garment as the Byzantine chlamys, was trapezoidal (think rectangle with the two bottom corners cut off) and not semi-circular, that the imperials would have preferred to maintain the ancient shape, versus the easier to cut and trim half-circle counterpart.[9]

Note: If you see an icon of an angel or saint wearing a chlamys, remember that these figures are often in imperial ceremonial dress, as that is to be expected of all divine beings.

Here are patterns I just cooked up to give a better understanding:

cloakpatterns

 

As for how these can be embellished, if Anna Radene is any indication, the aristocracy did not slouch when it came to blinging their accoutrements. In Dawson’s article, he discusses the will of an aristocratic lady by the name of Kale Pakouriane in which she discusses her clothing items, including heavily embellished mandyai with silk, pearls, and gold bands.[10] Parani brings up this same document for different reasons, so now it’s on my “MUST FIND” list, so that I too, can get a glimpse into the belongings of a high ranking lady of this period.

 

Anyways, I’m cooked. This just goes to show you how much you can find about one garment in just 2 monographs and an afternoon to kill looking for images and writing a blog post. I will be planning and making my own mandyas this week.

 

….all I wanted was a cloak. Seriously.

But at least I didn’t want a Pepsi.

free-mike
If you don’t get this, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoF_a0-7xVQ

 

 

Bibliography (image sources cited within text):

Constantine Porphyrogénnētos, De Cerimoniis aulae Byzantinae libri duo. London: Oxford. 1830.

Dawson, Timothy. “Propriety, Practicality, and Pleasure: The Parameters of Women’s Dress in Byzantium, A. D. 1000-1200.” In Byzantine Women: Varieties of Experience AD 800-1200, edited by Lynda Garland. Hampshire; Burlington: Ashgate, 2006.

Goldman, Norma. “Reconstructing Roman Clothing.” in The World of Roman Costume. Edited by. Judith Lynn Sebesta and Larissa Bonfante. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.

Parani, Maria. Reconstructing the Reality of Images: Byzantine Material Culture and Religious Iconography 11th-15th Centuries. Leiden;Boston: Brill, 2003.

 

[1] Maria Parani, Reconstructing the Reality of Images: Byzantine Material Culture and Religious Iconography 11th-15th Centuries, (Leiden;Boston: Brill, 2003.) 17-18.

[2] Timothy Dawson, “Propriety, Practicality, and Pleasure: The Parameters of Women’s Dress in Byzantium, A. D. 1000-1200.” In Byzantine Women: Varieties of Experience AD 800-1200, ed. Lynda Garland, (Hampshire; Burlington: Ashgate, 2006.) 48.

[3] Dawson, “Woman’s Dress in Byzantium,” 73.

[4] Parani, 73. Here she’s citing the will of Kale Pakouriane, a lady of the middle Byzantine period who discusses clothing in her will. She also discusses it as being an alternative garment worn by the Emperor on pages 16 and 17.

[5] Parani, plate 80. Vat. Gr. 1613, f. 98 depicting St. Pelagia the Harlot

[6] Ibid, plates 80, 81, 84.

[7] Dawson, 49.

[8] Parani, 12.

[9] Norma Goldman, “Reconstructing Roman Clothing,” in The World of Roman Costume, ed. Judith Lynn Sebesta and Larissa Bonfante, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.) 233.

[10] Dawson, 49.

Award of Arms scroll for Lady Petra de Cilicia

I’ve done some translation before for scribal work, but I never really get the chance to play wordsmith. So when the husband of a friend receiving her AoA at Birka this last weekend asked me and the other ladies of the house to help, I got excited. Her persona is Spartan, which makes things surprisingly difficult as written Spartan anything is scarce. There’s only 2 recorded Spartan poets, and they were entirely chronicled by later authors. In this case, I was able to find some Tyrtaeus quoted by the Roman author, Plutarch, in “The Life of Lycurgus” from The Parallel Lives, and some snippets of awesome from his section on Spartan sayings in Moralia.

This is what I was able to come up with, with notations in brackets:

Phoebus Apollo’s the mandate was which they brought from Pytho, [Pythian Apollo was a  Spartan patron god.]

Voicing the will of the god, nor were his words unfulfilled:

Sway in the council and honors divine belong to Edward and Thyra, [King and Queen of the East.]

Under whose care has been set Sparta’s city of charm;

Second to them is one, Petra de Cilicia.

Who swift in foot, aides our Hoplites of Eastern Shores,

Supporting the armies, and the love of her husband unwavering

and thus, the understanding that a helmet is for personal protection,

but the shield is common good for all. [The court laughed a lot here, I wish they didn’t. The quote is serious.]

And by this duty, our king, our queen, and council

Name on this day, Lady Petra, and award her arms for her to bear alone.

Duly confirming by vote this unperverted decree

Declared six days before the month of Eleusinios, [Eleusinios is approximately the Spartan month of February, named for the Eleusinian Mysteries, another cult that the Spartans revered.]

Before the great council at Market Day at Birka, [Spartans were huge into councils.]

Koino̱nía Étos Forty-Nine. [‘Koino̱nía Étos’ is Greek for the Latin ‘anno societatis’ or, ‘in the year of the society’.]

For anyone interested in Spartan society, I highly recommend the above sources by Plutarch, and also Herodotus’ Histories.

Linkage:

Plutarch: “Sayings of the Spartans” from Moralia:
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Moralia/Sayings_of_Spartans*/main.html

Plutarch: “Life of Lycurgus” from Parallel Lives:
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Lycurgus*.html

Herodotus’ Histories:
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2707/2707-h/2707-h.htm

A review of FutureLearn’s course on “Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier”

Readers of my blog will probably recall a post I made not long ago, well, six weeks ago to be exact, on my beginning of a course on FutureLearn. I reblogged a post “Who built the wall?” when the course started, and now I feel urged to share a poem by Rudyard Kipling, “The Roman Centurion’s Song”. It’s that feeling you get when you finish a good book, that emptiness that comes with completion. I guess I didn’t expect to feel this way, but that’s a good thing! That means that FutureLearn and Newcastle University have done their jobs. For a free online course, it was OUTSTANDING.

A little bit about the breakdown of the course:

Each week had about 20 short sections to complete. They ranged from short videos, to articles, and quizzes. The quizzes don’t count against your grade, they were just a learning tool. Every 2 weeks there was an actual test, culminating with the final test at the end of the 6th week (That one had some curveballs in it.) My favorite part were the little forensic challenges that happened every other week or so. You would be given an archaeological find of bones, and then try to determine cause of death, gender, etc from the clues given in an article. It was a great insight into the grim world of forensic archaeology.

The Vindolanda tablets were totally awesome. I had heard about them before, but never actively went seeking them. I really suggest taking a look at them here. Learning a bit more about the religious syncretism that occurred at the wall and methods of worship was also incredibly fascinating.

In addition, the discussions that were had were also great. Each section has a discussion area that functions like a social media platform, in which one could post an answer or topic of discussion and receive answers, sometimes even by the staff at the University, who was actively engaging with the MOOC the entire time.

Here’s Newcastle University’s blog of their experience: https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/numoocs/

I do believe you can still check out the course. Go to https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/hadrians-wall/ and see for yourself. I may have also totally taken the bait, but Newcastle University may be on the list of schools I look into for my PhD. But that’s a ways off yet, let me finish my MA first!

Thank you to the staff at Newcastle University and FutureLearn for offering this experience. I’ve already enrolled in an upcoming course, also through FutureLearn, on the archaeology of Portus which is being given by the University of Southampton, another UK school. I look forward to checking that out in January. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Who Built the Wall?

I’ve signed up for a free online course on Hadrian’s Wall via FutureLearn, offered by Newcastle University in the UK. Not that I don’t already have enough to do with my own graduate studies at the University of New Hampshire, but I figured that I would reblog a site that came up on Twitter, and link to the course itself. It started Monday, but I believe there is still time to sign up. Please join me in learning about this really cool part of Roman History!

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/hadrians-wall
#FLHadrian is the hashtag, find me under @ang_costello on Twitter for discussion. 🙂

Per Lineam Valli

The legions

A legion was around 5,000 heavily armed and armoured men who were, by the 2nd century AD, even more of an anachronism than the rams that still adorned the prow of every Roman warship in their fleets. Organised into ten cohorts, each of around 480 men, they were extremely effective in open battle, especially when complemented by their attached auxiliaries. Legionaries (never, please, ‘legionnaires’) were nevertheless unsuitable for garrisoning a province and all-too-easily wrong-footed by even the most basic of insurgencies (as all technologically dependent armies tend to be).

Britannia was to turn out to be a troubled (and troubling) place. It needed four legions until the end of the AD 80s and right up until the beginning of the 2nd century AD it still had three (II Augusta, IX Hispana, and XX Valeria Victrix). Then something happened, and at some point between…

View original post 604 more words

The Propoloma: A headdress of the Zoste Patrikia and other high ranking women in the courts of Eastern Rome

The Propoloma: A headdress of the Zoste Patrikia and other high ranking women in the courts of Eastern Rome

Kyria Anna Dokeianina Syrakousina, OM, OBT
One of the more difficult aspects of studying Eastern Roman dress for the SCA is locating suitable headwear outside of the typical veil and circlet that seems common place, and easily mimicked from iconographic depictions of female saints, and especially the Virgin Mary. I have just started to scratch the surface of ceremonial Roman dress, but so far I have been able to uncover some rather unique pieces that may begin to open the door into more complex appearances for Eastern Roman personae to try.

The zoste patrikia was a title held by the chief attendant or lady in waiting to the Eastern Roman Empress. It literally translates to “girded-lady patrician” but is often translated into English as “Mistress of the Robes.” It appears to have been given only to extremely high ranking ladies in direct service to the empress.[1] She was not only the head retainer for the empress, but also the head of the court of ladies, the wives of other high ranking patrician men in the court of Byzantium.[2]

As was tradition with the Eastern Romans, ceremony heavily accompanied any augmentation in rank, and with ceremony, came elaborate new costume. Ioannis Spatharakis, in his monograph, The Portrait in Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts, gives a detailed footnote of the ceremony, as described by Constantine Porphyrogénnētos in De Cerimoniis in Latin, while explaining the details of a manuscript depicting the installation of Anicia Juliana as patrician:

“In the church of the Theotocos of Pharos she received from the despotes a delmatikion [dalmatica], a thorakion [ecclesiastical pallium, similar to a chasuble], and a white maphorion [hooded veil]. In the Pantheon, wearing the thorakion and the delmatikion and carrying the loros [heavy gold wrap] and the propoloma [trapezoid hat], she received from the enthroned emperors the kodikellia [codex], which were later blessed by the patriarch. Because she was wearing the loros and the propoloma, she was not able to prostrate and kiss the feet of the despotai, as she did when she received her costume, but she bent slightly and kissed their knees.” [3] (The available text of De Cerimoniis is only in Latin or Greek. I did my best to translate the footnote and verify it with the original 1830 publication.)

This article will focus on the design of and wearing of the propoloma. This particular style of the hat is described as being in use as early as the 10th Century, but appeared to have had its heyday during the 11th and 12th Centuries, which allows it to fit perfectly into my persona. It appears to have taken the shape of a trapezoid, or upside down cone sewn shut on all but one side for the head. It may have been covered in silk, and then decorated in a variety of ways.[4]

Anna_Radene
Anna Radene wearing the propoloma during her occupation of zoste patrikia in 1070, image courtesy of 1186-583.org.
NK2HVE00
Possibly Irene Gabras, wife of St. Theodore Gabras. Who did not serve as zoste patrikia. Image courtesy of 1186-583.org.

 

Dawson seems to have done most of the legwork on this hat, as there is not an English translation of De Ceremoniis available to do primary source research from Constantine’s perspective. He discusses that although the hats were usually white, it appears that in one manuscript, purple ones were seen. This may indicate that these women may have been members of the extended royal family.[6] He also brings into account on his Levantia website that the padded headroll seen in earlier artwork, including the Ravenna mosaics, may have been the predecessor to the trapezoid propoloma.[7] So for those who have an earlier period persona, we simply need to take a look at the bust of Anicia Juliana to get a glimpse at the earlier hat style.

IMG_1862 IMG_1861

(Photos taken by me at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in March of 2014.)

Anicia was born in 462, which puts her occupation of zoste patrikia during the reign of Anastasius I, two reigns prior to Justinian I. So it is arguable that her attire could be considered that of late Antiquity of the very late Roman Empire, rather than “Byzantine” in nature. However, a similar style was worn by Theodora’s court in the mosaics at Ravenna:

The first thing I noticed immediately on this particular bust was not the layered look at the top, but the gathering in the back at the base of the skull. This reminded me immediately of the Cap of St. Birgitta, a style that was popular in the 14th century:

stbirgitta2
The original cap.
stbirgitta1
When worn.

Naturally, there is no reason why this cap could not be older in origin, and this marble bust may just show a similar cap being in use as early as the 5th century. At least for the over cap, the under cap is a bit more perplexing, especially with the pucker going on at the top of the head. It is highly unlikely that is a hair part, considering the detail given to the rest of the statue, in addition to the same look of the layered “turbans” on the mosaic, so my belief is that it was two separate pieces, but how they created that gather on the top is still a mystery to me. It is something I do plan on exploring later to help those with early period personae.

But how does a re-creator or reenactor transfer the wearing of this type of hat into their hobby? Well for one, this is a hat of station and rank. In the SCA, some kingdoms have sumptuary laws, the East Kingdom, where I reside, does not. However, I like to take into account the “what would my persona do?” clause when it comes to my clothing choices. My persona is well-developed, but not everybody else’s is, nor should they have to be. It is absolutely a personal choice on how much thought you want to put into your persona, and what you want them to wear. In the case of portraying a persona from a culture that has strong sumptuary laws, such as the Eastern Roman Empire, and especially if you reside in a kingdom that has laws about what one can wear on their head regarding their own rank, this is when the re-creator needs to take into account what he or she wants to wear, or should be wearing, for the holder of their awards.

In the case of the propoloma, I would recommend that nobody holding anything less than an Award of Arms wear this hat. A woman who would have received this hat would have already been of high patrician rank, and even though the title of lady may or may not convey this, it would be unfair to say that only peers or grant holders/court baronesses would be permitted to wear it as well as far as the game we play goes. I made my first one from looking at the Tom Tierney coloring books, which have proven to be rather inaccurate the more that my studies continue before understanding that it was a hat of rank. However, I feel that it would make an excellent choice for something akin to a cap of maintenance for a Pelican, or wreath for a Laurel, as the SCA simply does not hold a candle to the intense pomp of Eastern Roman ceremony. But by bringing pieces of these ceremonies into the SCA, bit by bit, we can help enrich our game even more, and introduce others to a new and exciting part of Roman culture they may have never otherwise known about.

Please visit  http://www.1186-583.org/Headgears-Headdress-and-Jewellery for Eudocia Kinnamos Dallassene’s research into this same hat. (Site is predominately in French.)

954828_495757887159965_1582529474_n
My horrid first attempt at a propoloma 30lbs ago.

Edit 11/9/2014: My new wool and silk Propoloma, visit my walkthrough here:

IMAG2976

Bibliography:

Constantine Porphyrogénnētos, De Cerimoniis aulae Byzantinae libri duo. London: Oxford. 1830.

Kazhdan, Alexander. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. New York: Oxford 1991.

Garland, Lynda. Byzantine Empresses: Women and Power in Byzantium, AD 527-1204. Abington: Routledge 1999.

Spatharakis, Ioannis. “The Portrait in Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts, Byzantina Neerlandica 6 (1976): 145.

Dawson, Timothy. “Women’s Dress in Byzantium” In Byzantine Women: Varieties of Experience 800-1200, edited by, Lynda Garland, 47. London: Ashgate, 2006.

Dawson, Timothy. A Woman of the High Aristocracy,” accessed August 13, 2014. http://www.levantia.com.au/clothing/zoste.html.

Footnotes:

[1] Alexander Kazhdan, The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, (New York: Oxford 1991), 2231.

[2] Lynda Garland, Byzantine Empresses: Women and Power in Byzantium, AD 527-1204, (Abington: Routledge 1999), 5, 245, 264.

[3] Ioannis Spatharakis, “The Portrait in Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts, Byzantina Neerlandica 6, (1976): 145.

[4] Timothy Dawson, “Women’s Dress in Byzantium” in Byzantine Women: Varieties of Experience 800-1200. Ed. Lynda Garland (London: Ashgate, 2006), 47. Dawson cites De Cerimoniis by Constantine Porphyrogénnētos, the 1837 Latin edition, which I am currently translating into English.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid. 48.

[7] “A Woman of the High Aristocracy,” Timothy Dawson, accessed August 13, 2014, http://www.levantia.com.au/clothing/zoste.html. Also gives his interpretation of what a complete outfit may have looked like.

Idle Musings, Part 2: On the Wearing of the Color Purple

In more of my pre-Pennsic Procrastination, additional thoughts have chopped their way into, “gee, I should be sewing right now” time.

 

Namely, this:

 

No! I mean THIS:

 

That is the shade of what is known as Tyrian, or Murex Purple.  The imperial purple of Rome.  As you can see, it is NOT indigo, it’s closer to a magenta-red, and it’s actually quite nice.

This was brought up because right now I have enough free linen points over at Fabrics-store.com to do some damage, and wildcherry, a color similar to this purple is on sale. This put me in a conundrum. Do I spend the money and being haughty and make a lovely purple piece of garbery, or, do I let it slide and stay within my persona? The East Kingdom has no sumptuary laws, especially when it comes to the wearing of colors, so I could wear this without any issue on the game side of of things. However, on the Anna side of things is where I question it. Would my persona be in the purple? As an imperial with the rank of lady, it’s likely I could have afforded it, and sumptuary laws did change over time to make it more available…IF you could afford it.

However, I feel like the wearing of purple, to me, as a Romanian (Byzantine), is being presumptuous in rank. If I was bestowed the gift of purple from someone of a higher station, that’s different. If someone won crown for me (highly unlikely situation) then well, yes, definitely. But the purchasing, sewing, and wearing of a purple garment would make me feel like I cheated. Yes, even though I hold the rank of lady, and I have seen period imagery of ranked women wearing SOME purple in their embellishment, they were never clad in it fully like the actual emperor and empress. So even though I may hold a position that allows me to wear it, and I could probably afford the dye, I would limit my purple to embellishment only, rather that entire garments.

Instead, I will play with words. Purpura, in both Latin and Greek, is a funny word. It means both purple AND red, so it’s hard to assume which color was being worn unless modifiers are being given, which they sometimes aren’t. And a good red color, like kermes derived from crushing little insects into dye, was just as expensive as milking murex snails. So I will gladly spend all of my persona’s invisible money on quality crimson and not feel like I’m placing myself higher than I should be while still dressing as a diva. 😉 Problem SOLVED. HOMERUN!

This of course doesn’t mean a thing outside of my own persona and kingdom. If you want to wear purple, and can wear the purple,  rock that purple.

I need to get work done.

 

Auntie Anna’s advice on how to dress for Pennsic.

This last weekend at Palio, and on Facebook, I’ve been asked on what’s the best way to clothe thyself for 2 weeks of camping on the Allegheny. After my last couple Pennsics, I’ve started to create a system of clothing that works for me. I used to bring everything I own, which ensured not running out of clean clothes, but I realized I was still wearing a lot of the same things over again in rotation than wearing, well, everything, so this is what I’ve been contemplating.  Note that everybody has their own unique system, and there’s no real right or wrong way to do Pennsic, okay, well, there’s plenty of wrong ways, but here’s assuming everyone comes prepared. The only way you’ll really figure out what works for you is trial and error.

In the Anna Method, you have 3 categories of Pennsic garb, not including the mandatory outerwear like cloaks because you’ll need one: 1: Court/Nice event garb. 2. Casual stuff. 3: Camp slop. Some things will carry over a bit depending on the day, how hot, how cold, etc. I always go for the full 2 weeks, so I tend to need more. The issue is that a lot of my stuff takes up some bulk, and there’s only so much room in the car. Space Bags are a wonderful invention and help a lot, but it’s not infallible to reduce space once you get there. So rather than bringing everything in your closet, put more thought into what you’re actually going to wear.

For example, here’s my thought process:

Court wear: No bliaut, it drags on the ground. Turkish has pants, good for cooler party nights, Bamberger Gunthertuch outfit is a yes, bring the gold dalmatica just in case and also something to bead on. Ghawazee coat outfit for hitting the Bog with. No apron dress this year, focus on being in persona.

Casual wear (remember this stuff can double for court wear if conditions are questionable): Blue beaded Byz, Rose Byz, Blue chiton, white chiton for layering, blue stola, rust peplos and Northern Army peplos. Green faux silk chiton if layered over white only because it sticks to my skin like ew. Beige tunic dress and sideless surcoat. Sari and choli for when it’s oppressive and you have to go to court…

Camp slop: Make 2 new Party Saxons (what I call ugly plaid bog dresses) since you gave some to a friend, flannel tunic dress, maybe one more of those for chilly nights, ugly cotton tunic dress with the short sleeves, purple pants, tank tops for grunt work. Sleep dresses.

Fight garb: Fencing entari, Fencing caftan, stripey pants, salwar, tunics.

Shoes: Flip flops, Crocs (you can hose them off, BIG.) Roman sandals, China flats, fight boots.

Outerwear: Cloak, Birka coat, Skaramangion if finished.

Now, this isn’t everything that will be on my final list, but it gives an idea of how I try to mentally place my garb, and reduce my bulk, and there’s also things that I can share with Geoffrey, though I tend to prefer dresses over pant or braies.  There’s some camp garb I won’t leave camp in, and there’s some I will stroll around the merchants in if I don’t particularly care who I run into, which is often. This is my vacation, and if you can’t deal with seeing me at my worst, you don’t deserve to see me at my best. I’ll be honest, there are days in camp I just need to put on mundane yoga pants and hide from the world. There are days when I’m just in a tank top and a broomstick skirt, and 99% of the time, I’m barefoot. This is okay, your camp is your space, and your tent is your house. Wear what makes you feel relaxed and comfortable, but still able to do the necessary chores.

Now, the number one consideration isn’t the amount that you bring, it’s planning for what Pennsic will throw at you weather-wise. As somebody who lives in New England, where we are fortunate enough to have all 4 seasons, we tend to plan for all the weathers. Not everyone in the country has seasons, and as someone who grew up in the balmy tropics of Florida, I know half the stuff I wear up here wouldn’t see the light of day down there. You need to be prepared for the extremes, I am not kidding. My first Pennsic, it rained the entire time. It’s been over 100 degrees and dry, there have been tornadoes and microbursts that can severely damage camps, and there can be bitterly cold nights that result in frost on the grass. The majority of the time, you can expect warm temperatures in the 80s and 90s, with a consistent chance of rain. Wet and dry conditions result in lots of mud and dust. The sight is usually good about helping control the dust levels by wetting the roads, but mud is unavoidable, and the ground is saturated in natural iron that gives everything a staining rusty tinge that’s impossible to get out of garb. This is where you need to plan well.

My persona is high Byzantine. I’d be damned if I’m going to wear one of my white tunicae after a rainstorm. Nope. No way. I highly applaud the folks who dress in their persona the entire time, especially the women in late period, because your balls are bigger than mine. I have no qualms with being a slob if it means saving my good clothing.  This is why I wear a lot of classical Roman in the summer to begin with. That, and I tend to get very warm in long sleeves.

Another thing to consider greatly is your sensitivity to the sun. I’m blessed with Italian and Black Irish (Irish folks descending from the moors and Iberian Celts) heritage, so I tan well and have a lower risk for sunburn. Therefore, exposed arms and legs aren’t as dangerous to me as say, my Lord Geoffrey, who is as Northern European as the white cliffs of Dover. So where I can go as Roman or in generic bog dress #42, he has to cover. He’s a Norman persona anyway, so this helps, but we’ve also decided to put him in generic Middle Eastern kaftans made from ugly striped linen like this:

kaftan
Make an oversized T-tunic with the front split. Done. Instant coverup “kaftan”.

Because he can still wear short sleeves under it, as well as straight pants with sandals to control body temperature, without sacrificing his skin to Helios.  Sunblock is still needed, of course, but not by the gallon.

Also, hat. All the hats. If not a hat, then a veil or some sort of cap. Not only is it period, but it’s period for a reason: Your face and your scalp are going to cook. They sell big straw hats at war for about $5 each. They will last you the event, and you’ll look goofy, but it’s better than sun poisoning on your noggin and helps eliminate the need for sunglasses.

floppy
Here I am waterbearing at Pennsic XL: Ugly Bog Dress and floppy hat.

Garb “hacks”:

Here’s some ways to “cheat” at garb for Pennsic to make it a more affordable and comfortable experience.

-Sew/purchase your garb in natural fibers only. That means linen, wool, and cotton. Linen above all, because it will keep you cool, keep you warm, take a beating and wash well. Wool will keep you warm but doesn’t wash as well. Cotton is good depending on the weave, but it won’t take a beating. Quilting broadcloth is garbage, avoid it if you can and spend the money on better quality fabrics like homespun cottons, or, you know, linen. However, flannel tunics are a great way to have snuggly warm dresses and tunics for the chilly nights in camp

-Bandeau bras under bog dresses and classical garb. I got a pack of them from Amazon for like $15.  No straps, and tight enough support to hold the girls in without the dreaded Roman sideboob. I have a 36D bra size and they still fit.

-Shorts.  Yes, ladies, I’m looking at you. Not everyone has a thigh gap, and I myself am an accomplished victor of chub rub chafing which ruined a war for me. You need bike shorts or compression shorts under your dresses. You could make short braies, also, which I’ve done, but seriously…protect your thighs. Shorts and Gold Bond after a shower. Don’t ignore this advice. I’ve also heard that Body Glide is a great product to help with this (and under the boobs) as well as an antiperspirant, which doesn’t work for me. Ripping up your thighs is a great way to ruin your event.

-PJ pants. This is a great way for guys (and ladies!) To have legwear for cooler nights and days without wearing jeans or making tons of pants. They’re usually cheap at stores like Target and come in colors and all sorts of fun plaids that could pass off as something Celtic or Viking, even though everybody knows you’re in PJs, because a lot of people do it. These make great “camp slop” for when you want to save your nice stripey pants for a higher profile day. Scrub pants can also work, but don’t wear blue scrubs, that’s what the Cooper’s staff wears.

-Crocs. I think they’re ugly, too, but after I watched campmates hose off their shoes after a muddy night and before they got in the car to go home, I became a believer. My winter boots are Crocs, and they’ve worn lots of mud here in the spring events. Plus, Crocs come in other styles that aren’t so…Croc-like. This doesn’t mean don’t bring better shoes for nights you want to go out, or for court and such, but after I’ve destroyed, and I do mean DESTROYED, flip flops and China flats at war, I’d rather just invest in these ugly things and have my feet look like duck’s feet if I can hose them off.

-Buy packs of underwear and socks when you get there, you’re going to need these because you may throw out more pairs of socks than you think. I don’t care how much you pack from home, BUY MORE.

-Leave a bag of clean mundane clothing, shoes, and undies in the car. You’ll thank me later.

Okay, what the heck is a Bog Dress?

A bog dress is a peplos, plain and simple. Just like the Romans made them. They were worn throughout Bronze Age and Iron Age Europe and they’re an excellent way to make cheap hot weather garb. I separate my Roman dresses from bog dresses by calling them my Party Saxons, mostly because I’m wanton to pick out the most horrific plaid homespun cottons at Joann’s for them and blinding my camp. This of course, isn’t necessary, and I’m just not terribly a nice person. 🙂 I do recommend making them out of the homespuns though, even if they’re horrific, because you’re only paying $4 a yard, don’t need much fabric, and if they get wrecked beyond a washing machine or repair, oops, into the dumpster they go. You can also make them shorter and feel like Artemis for those extra sloggy days.

There’s a couple different ways to make them, usually you’ll see the traditional style with the flaps in the front and back, but I’m starting to move away from that and just making a tube to pin at the shoulders to conserve fabric, as my Roman ones take up the entire bolt width and cut lengths. I also found this great pattern by Alfrun online, and she pleats the tops to make it more fitted and use less fabric. I’m going to try this style for this year’s war: http://awanderingelf.weebly.com/a-wandering-elfs-journey/sca-standards-the-bog-dress

 

 But what about stuff other than garb?

I have a friend of mine who I camp with who has done this way more than I have.  So quite a few years ago, she made a site, called Pennsic 101, that will get you through the basics. It is dated and does go back to before cellphones were the norm, but it’s still a great starting point.

http://www.angelfire.com/folk/pennsic101/

There’s also plenty of other guides available to check out, just by running a search.

Here’s Master Liam St. Liam’s guide on 10 must-do things at your first Pennsic:

http://liamstliam.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/ten-things-to-do-at-your-first-pennsic-or-really-any-pennsic/

 

So as you can see, there’s no shortage of information out there to help newcomers. I hope I was at least able to give an idea on how to plan your clothing.

 

 

Another look at the “Bamberger Gunthertuch.”

As frequent readers may recall, I have a post here entitled, “The Illusive Dover Dress Debunked.” Wherein I was determined to set the record straight from badly interpreted secondary source material using the primary source. I have created what I think is the look portrayed in the silk fragment. At least the start, anyway. Let’s review.

Here’s the look most often emulated in the SCA:

dover1

Which was taken from this interpretational sketch from the 1980’s:

full_kaiserhof_23_800x600

Here’s the actual source:

Gunthertuch

Here’s the Anna, zoning off as Queen’s Guard (hence rose baldric) at Crown Tourney (I was so tired.):

14039587698_399ffff840_b

 

Yes, it’s a very simple style to emulate. I often wonder if Elizabethan personae come to my page and sneer at my untailored, baggy linen glory. 😉 However, lets see if we can break this down and determine what we’re looking at, and how I did.

First, the women portrayed in the tapestry are both Tyche, the goddess of fortune and prosperity, taking on the shape of the Blue and Green Demoi, the two main political associations in the Eastern Roman Empire. They are supporting a figure that seems to be Emperor John I Tzimiskes on his triumph over Bulgaria in the late 10th Century.

The women are first and foremost, deities. Even though the Byzantines were extremely pious Orthodox Christians, they were proud of their Hellenistic and Roman roots, and often displayed images from classical mythology and literature as part of their way to connect themselves to the splendor of the ancient empires.

The dead giveaway on the divinity of the subject is that they are barefoot.  In the Greco-Roman culture, only the divine could be portrayed as barefoot. That does not mean that people could not and did not go barefoot in real life, but as far as artistic record goes, this was reserved for the gods. I am not barefoot for a few reasons. 1: I am a high lady of the court. Barefoot would mean I couldn’t afford shoes. 2: It was Crown Tourney, ew, gross. I am actually wear a pair of red China flats, since red shoes were all the rage for women during the period. One day, I will make nice, period shoes, but I digress…

Another odd observation is that they have bare arms and appear to be wearing cuffs of some sort. This boggles me. The Blue is wearing a tunica that appears to be almost-flesh colored, but the Green, in her minty green tunica, definitely has bare arms. What I have determined off the cuff (*rimshot*) is that this is another classical throwback, or, the weaver really screwed up. Screwing up is period, we see it all the time, which would make some sense. I don’t understand the placement of the cuffs on the arm when they look like trim that matches the garments. If you’ve ever worn a wide cuff on the upper arm, you know how uncomfortable they can be. However, to me, the dead giveaway that this was an error is if you look at the woven pattern on the wrists of both demoi, you see that the trim matches that of their tunicae. Jewelry wouldn’t match embroidery, and their headwear doesn’t match their dresses, and they’re both different. I suppose the only way to really tell is to see the textile in person, which will probably never happen unless I get to go frolic about cathedrals in Germany sometime soon.

EDIT 5-21-14: I did find this small scan of a book about the textile, and it looks like there may be a touch of green left on her shoulder, so fading could also be a culprit.

622856_2

Of course, if this WAS intentional, my guess would be that the artist was trying to emulate the sleeveless fashions of the classical period.

Or, they could be dancers. I’ve seen a great deal of sleeveless “Byzantine Dancer” interpretations in the SCA and other re-creation groups around on the web, but I did find this image from the Paris Psalter very quickly on Wikipedia with a fast search. This also dates to the 10th Century and has connections to Basil II/John I Tzimiskes period as the textile.

From Wikipedia, “David Glorified by the Women of Israel.”

These women are definitely dancers, and the painted style of this is most interesting in the layering of the colors. They are definitely wearing what could be considered the classical stola on it’s own, and the men are wearing the clothing of Late Antiquity and do look more Western Roman rather than Byzantine. This is a curious piece to work from as far as clothing styles go. However, looking directly at the women, you can tell the dresses are one piece and woven or dyed into different colors, and the actively dancing woman is still wearing some sort of sandal on her feet, so she’s not totally barefoot like the demoi are. However, the sleeveless style is there for a dancer. This link that shows a modern woman reenactor gives a source as being in the Biblioteca Marciana, or the Library of St. Mark’s in Venice. I went to check it out on the Biblioteca Marciana digital library, but the back-end of their Java encoding is broken, and couldn’t view their manuscripts, not to mention the reference given is so vague, I’m unsure of which manuscript it’s actually in.

EDIT 5-21-2014: somebody on the SCA Garb Page on Facebook has found it for me, HURRAY!

XIR205720

Those dancers may be similar, but the lack of ornamentation, and the weird flounces at the bottom of the skirt don’t mesh with the Tyches in the tapestry.

My big red X over this hypothesis is that the job of a dancer in the Byzantine Empire was THE LOWEST OF THE LOW. They did have court dances, and ritual dances, but for entertainment purposes, especially the showing of the arms and legs? You’re a harlot. Plain and simple. This is seem all too well in the opinion Procopius had of the Empress Theodora in his “Secret History.” Granted, he was a bit of a gossiper, but she was portrayed as the absolute dregs of society before she was married to Justinian. This was not a wanted profession. Why would 2 images of a divine person be dressed as dancers? That sounds insulting to the goddess Tyche. It would be almost satirical in nature for the demoi (remember, political parties) to be dressed as such, but not in the way that the silk is portrayed. They’re supporting figures for a conquering emperor, and not there as jokes.

For now, I will stick with the idea that the sleeveless-appearing Green Tyche was done in error on the weaver’s part, considering the Blue Tyche has the cream colored tunica. If it is an attempt at classical Roman revival, the stola should be to the floor, as the two layer look is strictly a Byzantine fashion style. The weaver was emulating Byzantine fashion, not Roman.

Moving onto discussing my interpretation, I created the stola from about 3 yards of red-orange linen. As shown in my previous post on this style, the Byzantine woman’s stola would have looked similar to the Roman stola (see my Ancient Roman costuming page for more info on that) but closer in cut to the men’s Roman tunica, as seen in this Coptic example:

stola2

I opted to play with this idea with the “pinching” method of the Roman stola, that is, bringing in the top seam a bit to achieve straps, and provide a more comfortable neckline. The textile shows the women wearing a relatively high neck, as opposed to the deep V-necked style of antiquity. Easy enough. The trick of course is to fit the neck to yourself over and over again with pins to get the look you want. Here is the illustration of mine:

bambergerstola

Here’s some pictures of the finished product to help give a better understanding, you can see how I already finished the neck and shoulders before I attached the straps. The embroidery is done by machine and I’m just a fan of that aesthetic. Similar bands are shown in some artwork, but I just wanted a little bling. Also, pardon the icky bathroom mirror:

IMAG2050IMAG1992

And here’s an action shot of me receiving my Maunche, which I was actually happy to see so I could see how the sleeve openings looked, and they look comparatively well against the original source material. There is no large gap as shown in the Dover artwork at the top, and the draping against my shoulders looks fantastic and flattering. If I would have left the fabric any wider, it would have been frumpy, and any smaller it would have been too tight. So 40″ wide is the magic number for me and stolas. Your mileage will vary depending on the person.

14039461779_8b1dc428bb_b

I guess the next thing on my list is to make a tunica with the solid stripe in the front as opposed to the clavii, and take pictures with my turret hat and a palla in such a way that mimics Tyche. I still love my overdramatic dalmatica style of the 11th Century, but this is a comfortable option for warmer events, and it was relatively warm indoors. Hence the lack of hat and palla. I did have it with me, but they made me toasty. It’s also hard to guard thy queen while being immobilized by your garb. 😉

It’s pretty much safe to say that this particular short stola was worn from the period of Justinian and Theodora in the 6th Century as seen in the Ravenna mosaics, and through the 10th Century as seen in the Bamberger Gunthertuch.

From Ravenna: Possibly stolas, possibly tighter dalmaticae, the hems are tucked up, not cut on an angle.

 

I hope this little simple project of mine helped those who were scratching their heads over the Dover illustrations. I feel that this is the correct form of the garment worn, and that more women will be interested in trying this unique style of the Byzantines. 🙂

Operation: Whiter Shade of Pale. The Coronation of Brennan and Caoilfhionn and my journey to become a Vestal Virgin.

There’s a great deal that I could say about what goes on behind the scenes at events. I’m unsure how in-depth other kingdoms go, but here in the East, we like to be rather grandiose with coronations. I’ve autocratted royal progress events before, but I’ve never really been apart of the research and development strike team, so to speak, so this is a summarized post of my experience working on the spring coronation here in the East Kingdom.

Several months ago, I was approached by Master Steffan ap Kennydd about aiding him in designing a unique coronation ordo for the incoming heirs. It was going to be wildly anachronistic, as we were replacing 7th Century Saxons with 1st Century Romano-Hibernians, and I agreed, knowing that this could be a lot of fun.

I’m not too well-versed in early Irish culture, in fact, the Romans did not really interact with the Hibernians that often, and described them as basically crazy, so I knew that this was going to be tricky. Initially, I was brought in to help Steffan with the Latin, and things ballooned from there. We needed a story, we needed a good reason for Kenric II to abdicate, because court schtick is the best schtick. This involved a secret Facebook group, a Google document, and a conference call. Lots of discussion was had to be able to pull this together between about 8 people. @_@

Since Kenric II is the cousin of the martyred Kenric I, who was killed mysteriously by an archer bearing black arrows, visions of this sainted king have been plaguing his cousin. We had the benefit of working with 3 very superstitious cultures, so this was going to work. It would be far-fetched and as anachronistic as we could muster transitioning smoothly between time periods without a TARDIS, but this was going to rock.

Mistress Aife was brought in to help with the Irish, and I focused on the Roman. What else could we do to make this work? Steffan came up with the idea of taking it a dark route, and bringing in seers to proclaim Kenric’s doom during court. Aife wrote up a doom as follows, that we translated into Gaelic and Latin:

“King of the East! I speak your wyrd.
I see it in the flight of birds,
in the rising smoke, in the curling clouds.

King of the East, I speak your wyrd.
The wolf is coming, cloaked in splendor.
The eagles scream above his stride.

King of the East, I speak your wyrd.
The pale horse falls from the high place,
the victorious wolf hard at his heels.

King of the East, I speak your wyrd.
The three pale moons crowned by courage
are swallowed by the shadow of the wolf bearing the eagle.

King of the East, your wyrd is spoken.”

“Wyrd” from what I understand, is a very Anglo-Saxon concept, so is the white horse. The Irish revered wolves, while the Saxons found them to be bad omens. In this case, the wolf is also in Brennan’s arms, so it worked. The Eagle of course, is Rome. So Brennan essentially became, “The wolf bearing the eagle.” The “three pale moons” are Kenric’s arms. It’s vague, it’s spooky, and it was perfect.

Steffan and I translated it into Latin, and this was the result:

“Rex Orientis, fatum tuum dico.
Video in volatum avum, in fumo oriente, in nubibus volventibus.

Rex Orientis, fatum tuum dico.
Lupus venit, palliatus fulgore. Aquilae clangunt super passibus suis.

Rex Orientis, fatum tuum dico.
Equus albus descendit de loco alto, lupo victorioso vincendo.

Rex Orientis, fatum tuum dico.
Tres lunae pallidae virtute coronatae umbra lupi aquilam ferentis voratae sunt.

Rex Orientis, fatum tuum dictum est!”

This was more of a geek-fest for us rather than everyone else, but we enjoyed it.

Next came the performance aspect. Aife and myself were conscripted into duty as the seeresses, and I took on the role of a Vestal Virgin, the most well-known and recognizable Roman priestess. I’m hardly virginal material *cough* but for the day, it would be well worth the project.

Vestal garb is relatively simple, with some twists. I reached out to Maestra Julia Sempronia of An Tir, who had recently received her Laurel while donning the robes of the Vestal, and she was a great source of help, as well as others from the Romans of the SCA Facebook page.

In addition to wearing all white, the most important part of the Vestal was the headwear, the infula (fillet) and suffibulum (veil.) Other than that, I needed white sandals, a white chiton, and a white palla. Those pretty much took care of themselves. However, I need to proudly display my sandals for a bit, because  even though they’re modern, I found a pair that had a trinity knot as part of the design. So not only was I Roman, I was wearing what could be considered a rather Irish symbol, that could easily stand for all three cultures represented in the ceremony: Saxon, Irish, and Roman. Gods, I’m a NERD.

Back to the headwear. The infula was going to be the worst part. I needed to make funky round bands of funkiness in red, long enough to wrap around my head 5 times and have 2 loops over my shoulders. What I did on Maestra Julia’s suggestion was purchase cotton cording used to edge pillows, and dyed it red. It took me two dye baths to get it the right shade, and the dying process did leave the cotton looking a bit weathered and raggy, almost like felted wool. So I got the right look. It even faded just a bit like period red dyes do.

1239364_10152124460323143_591881047_n
I posted this as-is on Facebook. Imagine the responses.

The final result:

10171905_10152128139283143_164595291_n

 

I was still missing pieces to the puzzle. The infula slipped off of my short hair very easily, so I was reminded that I needed a vitta, or a plain white fillet to keep it in place. I simply cut and hemmed a small rectangle of white linen, and that did the job. Next was the suffibulum, or veil. This took a bit more troubleshooting than I thought it would. I needed to get the right shape to have it drape across my shoulders evenly. I tried a few rectangles, and then had a moment of pure “derp” when it was suggested by Domina Vestia on the Romans of the SCA page that it should be semi-circular. That did the trick. I trimmed it in deep reddish-purple bias tape, and made a brooch out of a huge shank button I found at Joann’s, and the headwear problem was solved.

1795638_10152131593223143_1824931916_n 1512455_10152131593253143_1014202810_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I put together the whole kit, scared Lord Geoffrey, and made him take pictures:

1495445_10152133644708143_225454444_n 1503861_10152133644623143_578590333_n

nce_14_img2953
Looks about right.

Of course, that was just the beginning, now the fun began. We had the words, we had the garb. I couldn’t memorize the lines entirely, so I cheated and taped them into my wax tablet. It did the job. Let’s spook the Eastern Populace.

10155213_10152140008703143_6449064599278856690_n
Wyrd up.

But wait, there’s more!

You can’t have a victorious emperor of Rome come into court without showing off! It was my idea that Brennan and Caoilfhionn have a Triumph to begin their First Court. And although I couldn’t convince his Imperial Majesty to paint his face red, what resulted was an epic, and I do mean EPIC parade of regalia and pomp into court unlike anything I think the East has ever seen. Brennan paraded in after the kingdom champions, and I stood behind him, holding one of the Eastern crowns over his head, and chanting, “Respice post te, hominem te memento.” This translates to, “Look behind you and remember that you are but a man.” This was done typically by a slave with a laurel wreath, on the triumphator’s quadriga (4 horse chariot.) It reminded the emperor or general that they were still mortal, and not a god, and to control their hubris and pride. I have several reports that I gave members of the populace chills by doing this.
Her Imperial Majesty Caoilfhionn was carried in on a lectica, surrounded by the artifacts and relics of the East Kingdom, as well as amazing displays of heraldry as Roman vexillae. I missed the second half of the show because as soon as I got to the dais, I bolted to the royal room to change into less…conspicuous clothing so that I could enjoy court and be called upon as a member of the Queen’s Guard.

A fantastic gallery of the day can be found here, taken by the talented Baroness Cateline la Broderesse: https://plus.google.com/photos/107530822403255590361/albums/5999165371424216881

In closing, thank you everyone who came to Coronation and enjoyed our little performance. Thank you to their Majesties Brennan and Caoilfhionn, and their Graces Kenric and Avelina for playing along with our crazy idea. I’m looking forward to a nice, Roman summer. 🙂

Addendum: For those interested, here is the doom in Klingon. Generously translated by a poster on the Romans of the SCA Facebook page:

“ta’ chan! mu’qaDlIj pejatlh
vIlegh qaStaHvIS cha’par HIv,
qaStaHvIS Hu’DI’ loD tlhIch, qaStaHvIS chen.

ta’ chan, mu’qaDlIj pejatlh.
paw Qongbogh chalDaq tlha’ Dat, qaStaHvIS ben law’ batlhmey So’.
jopbe’ jach wovbe’ mIw.

ta’ chan, mu’qaDlIj pejatlh.
pum Sargh meqlaHchaj vo’ jenwI’ Daq,
Qap Qongbogh chalDaq tlha’ Dat let yISum.

ta’ chan, mu’qaDlIj pejatlh.
mIv’a’ toDuj maS meqlaHchaj wej
ghup pong Qongbogh chalDaq tlha’ Dat toQDuj SIQ QIb.

jatlh chan, mu’qaDlIj ta'”