Penn Museum Online Collection: Roman items

The Penn Museum online Collection is small but nice for the anyone looking to see Roman lighting and glass. They have a nice example of a glass stopper! This should give you the documentation for a similar stopper. There is an example of pressed glass in the mediterranean collection, and several blown glass flasks and pitchers, which look modern and elegant, and as they are very early A.D./C.E., it could be argued that similar pieces were likely possible throughout our SCA period, at least for the Eastern Roman Empire.

Also useful and interesting is their collection of oil lamps. I had not seen an oil lamp with the wider end curved up. The other examples had tiny molded handles but not all pierced. One interesting bronze version is also present. Something I like is at least one had a comment on the method by which it was made.

These items ranged in date from the 1st century through the 5th as far as I took note in my quick viewing. Quite nice, definitely another museum to keep on a list of places to visit and online collections to check when thinking early period glass and lighting.

I didn’t have time to explore the online collection any further before posting– so if you spot something particularly nice in their online collection, do mention it in a comment.

The Walls of Constantinople

I just watched a wonderful TED talk on the significance of the Walls of Constantinople to the West. I enjoyed that this video is both concise and clear. The only criticism I have is that those fleeing Constantinople did not only go to Rome, but to many other major cities. It was not so much the crusaders who brought the culture and knowledge from Constantinople to the west as it was the Eastern Romans themselves. Most of our books call them Byzantines, but they knew themselves as Roman.

Go watch the video. Use it as part of your Church History or Ancient History unit studies.

Consider this: Constantine introduced the organ to the west, so Church music owes much to the Byzantine empire. The Chants of Constantinople influenced church music and resulted in Gregorian chant and other chant forms in the West.

Let us be sure to teach history to our children so that they understand its importance, and that they know the truth of what occurred. The Eastern Roman Empire was the center of culture for nearly a millennium. THEY built the libraries and cities of Byzantium, and it was their work that was co-opted by the Ottoman during the so-called golden age of islam. The Byzantines were creative and CHRISTIAN. They led their time in architecture and when someone points to a dome on a mosque– you tell them they got that technology from the Byzantine Christians.

Mantles

I have a number of blogs I enjoy. If you were looking to make a warm covering to wear for Byzantine, this lady’s work on her dissertation spills over into her SCA play and she shares– cool person! Here is the link to her cloak post, which is just the first as she promises more detail later. 🙂

The Importance of Mantles in Middle Byzantine Fashion

Her research gives three types of mantles/cloaks. The half circle that is long(foot to floor), the half circle that is calf length, and the really fancy expensive one(details to come later). What fun! THREE options!

Her focus is 11th Century. As that grew out of the 10th century, if you are careful, you can use that information to help you understand the cloaks of 10th century. Clothing changed, but slowly, and while it is problematic to reach backwards, if you put it with everything you find for 10th century and before, you can see the arc of development and the later helps to clarify the former.

Be sure to bookmark her blog, ESPECIALLY if you are doing 11th century Byzantine. 🙂

Have fun and God bless!

Sable Sparrow for Garbing a Child

A friend, Lady Dianna as she is known in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), was awarded an Ansteorran award for garbing a child. MY child to be exact. My child seeks to learn to do Rapier fighting in the SCA and so needed garb appropriate to that late period activity. Lady Dianna Blakely dove right in and created this garb:Version 3IMG_2193

Two pair trousers, vest, doublet, hat, tabard, shirt, and a fighting cloak not shown. Also not shown, gloves, hood, and gorget!  She is working to add one more shirt to round out the wardrobe.  She made each item carefully to allow for changes in height and breadth.  THIS is a top flight example of garbing a child.

The Sable Sparrow is an award given for a one time service that is above and beyond. I would say this was a very beautiful example of a well deserved award!

The garb is late period because rapier (fencing) is a late period activity. In the 10th century the fighters would have been Chivalric in nature (in the SCA these are the medieval knights with the heavy armor) and dressed very differently, but that is one of the wonderful qualities of the SCA. A family does not all have to dress alike.

IMG_2233

Also, the Tabard clearly informs the educated SCAdian to which group this child is attached and to whom you return them if they are found where they ought not to be.

And that, dear readers, is an example of children’s garb.

My gratitude to the good Lady Dianna!

Children’s Clothing for SCA Events

Children’s Clothing for playing in the modern middle ages, AKA the Society for Creative Anachronism(SCA), is an ongoing problem. The other day as I explored the Ansteorran web page, seeking information, I ran across this excellent article: Children’s Costumes at SCA Events by Ælflæd of Duckford (the author’s SCA name).

The article is good, with pictures, patterns mentioned, and other useful and practical ideas about clothing children for events. She did a far better job than would I!

So, while my basic kids garb, influenced by the Metropolitan Museum where their online pages have two extant items (child’s hooded tunic, Child’s dress, similar to adult) that suit my period, is easily done with a t-shirt, linen, and a bit of trim; practical and simple to make but not all that varied in design, this author wrote on all sorts of fun options, with photos of her own children fully garbed.

So, in addition to Children’s Costumes at SCA Events, you can dive into the many options at Stefan’s Florilegium.

Go, follow the links, and enjoy!

 

 

Decorating a Byzantine Tent: Dagging

Decisions, decisions! I’d like some fancy dagging along the roof of my tent, but I am not finding evidence for it in the10th century.  I see lots of color. I see solid colors on the tents for images of Byzantine troops in camp:
AdrianopleConquestByzSoldBGhistory                                                                                Page from the writings of John Skylitzes (Madrid Skylitzes) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

These date from later than the 10th century but demonstrate what they considered how tents should look. In this close up we see Byzantine tents as the Byzantine army takes their oaths in preparation for battle.
Byzantine army taking oath before the battle of Anchialus              Close-up of image by John Skylitzes (Madrid Skylitzes) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I see solid colors portrayed with decoration at the eaves and along the roof. In images further down, also of Byzantine tents, the colors appear solid, the decoration at the eaves is contrasting, and some tents have decorations on the roof, but not all. Again, I wonder if this suggests ethnic differences or simply the way the artist chose to paint his pictures.

And horizontal stripes for Muslim’s tents during a siege:
Assedio di Messina 1040         Close-up of image by John Skylitzes (Madrid Skylitzes) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Note in the images above and below here that the Muslims are shown with round shields and the Byzantines with those long pointed bottom shields. I wonder if this is just the artist or if it represents an actual common difference?
MadridSkylitzesFol97raDetail              An Arab emir’s tent from Skylitzes via Wikimedia Commons

There are not enough images from enough sources for me to make a solid conclusion, but these images certainly suggest that different groups decorated their tents differently. Most notably that the Muslim tents are portrayed as having a much stronger horizontal decorating motif, where the Byzantine tents are more often solid colors limiting the decoration to the roof and the band where the roof and the walls connect in the illustrations. In the Arab Emir’s tent, there is a striped sort of look to the way the large panels are colored, again, wondering if this suggests that there were vertical stripes as well as colored panels and a decorative lower edge?

Here is one of a Byzantine siege of a citadel from Skylitzes:
Byzantine Trebuchet Skylintzes
Close-up of image by John Skylitzes (Madrid Skylitzes) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This image repeats the solid colors, and gives the additional information on bows and the variations of tent shape found in a Byzantine camp. Looks like both sides wear the same helmets, and use the same bows. The shield shape used by the soldiers in the citadel is the same as used by Byzantines in other images.

Then another of Byzantines re-taking a city, this time Antioch:
Fall of Antioch in 969             Skylitzes via wiki commons

I see no sign of fancy dagging along the upper part of the wall where it meets the roof, bands of contrasting color, but no dagging. I wanted dagging but cannot find evidence to justify it– so far at least.

I need to find another source of images. 🙂

 

Museums: The MET

Museums are a treasure to the person who loves the study of history and art. Some truly magnificent museums have put out collections on-line; while the virtual museum cannot replace actually going to the museum in person, it provides the person who cannot travel so far.  Here in the United States I must sing the praises of the Metropolitan Museum of Art found in New York city.

I especially like the images that can be zoomed in upon, especially the textiles, until even the weave of the fabric can be seen. NICE!  For example: Here is a medallion of the Eagle representing the gospel of John. If you click on the image, you will get a screen that allows you to zoom in and take a very close look at the stitches in this embroidery. Another example is this Rondel with hunting amazons and a cross.  Again, click on the image and zoom in several clicks to see details in the weave.

Jewelry is where the MET collections shine best. They have a wonderful collection of Earrings, Necklaces, Pendants, Belt Buckles, slides and ends, and Crosses. FINDING what is there isn’t very easy if you are seeking Byzantine, but if you keep recombining search terms you can eventually find some truly marvelous examples to copy.

My biggest criticism of the MET is that searching for Byzantine items is made quite difficult because the 10th century items, such as textile fragments, are all classified as part of the Islamic collection. So when seeking specifically Byzantine and therefore Christian textiles, one must do a general search for Byzantine, THEN use the navigation on the left side of the screen to select Textile Fragments, and then scroll and scroll to find the images that are wanted.  I have not found an easier way.  There ought to be an easy way to specify Byzantine after selecting Textile Fragments.  I also tried to specify by geography and there is no heading for the range of geography that was Byzantine.  It is quite irritating.

For example, to find the Pendant/Brooch with the Icon of the Holy Mother on it, the search must be “Byzantine Jewelry” because if you search “Byzantine” and then select “Jewelry” from the “Object Type/Materials” menu on the left side of the page, you will miss this very typical Byzantine pendant type.  Nor does this necklace with an angel carving on the pendant show up under necklaces, but can be found in the “related items” category.

So when searching, do not trust that the MET gave you every item you wanted even if it fit your search criteria, look under “related items” and do a lot of creative searches. Otherwise you may miss exactly the item you wanted from their collections.

Lighting in 10th Century Byzantium

Revisiting the Dumbarton Oaks Museum and the Byzantine & Christian Museum of Athens, today we shall take a look at methods of lighting which would be typical for the 10th century in Byzantium or Eastern Rome.

In the Dumbarton Oaks collection there is a 10th century glass hanging lamp. It would have needed a wick holder, which would likely have been of brass, to hold the wick, it would have been filled with olive oil, and was common enough that it shows up in an icon of St. Luke. The chain is attached by eye-bolts set into holes through the glass. The Dumbarton Oaks, lamp is the only one of its kind still intact. The book LIGHTING IN EARLY BYZANTIUM published by Dumbarton Oaks has excellent images.

Over in the collections of the Byzantine & Christian Museum there are several clay lamps which, from the sheer numbers that have been found, and the common motifs carried by so many, were likely used by nearly everyone, even if they also had the wealth to own lamps made of metals.  Of particular interest are the hanging fish lamps, and the smaller table lamp with fish decoration.

This metal version (image from Wikimedia Commons) with the Chi Rho would have been very common in clay and this shape was common with all sorts of Christian motifs; the chains indicate that it could be hung as well as set on a table:

Oil Lamp Christian Symbol.jpg
Oil Lamp Christian Symbol“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 fr via Wikimedia Commons.

Another Favorite Museum: Byzantine & Christian Museum of Athens

I have a new FAVORITE museum: The Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens Greece. Not reading Greek, I am limited to exploring images or sticking to the English language page. Still, for exploring the culture of my persona and characters, this is a thrill to find on-line.

I found this lovely museum page thanks to this image:
2141 - Byzantine Museum, Athens - Byzantine ceramic ware - Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, Nov 12 2009              By G.dallorto (Own work) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The pottery, in the pictures is listed as 9th-13th century. I could use this, and mug with the two small finger loops (seen in another image), as the basis for feast gear for an SCA: Society for Creative Anachronism event.

Lighting could be via a lamp like THIS. LOVELY! I like the two fish on a line.

Or THIS lamp. Note the loops for hanging the lamp and the fish coming out of the fish’s mouth to hold the wick.

HERE is a pretty gold buckle I would not mind using on a belt!

All in all a delightful museum!

Two Favorite Museums: Dumbarton Oaks and Getty Museums

These two museums are wonderful examples. The first for their diligent efforts to further scholarship and the second as an example of how user friendly a museum can be.

DUMBARTON OAKS RESEARCH LIBRARY AND COLLECTION

First, Dumbarton Oaks Museum is so much more than a museum. I love using their web site. Of their Byzantine Collection they say,

The Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Collection is one of the finest collections of artifacts from the Byzantine Empire. Spanning the imperial, ecclesiastical, and secular realms, the collection comprises more than twelve hundred objects from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries.

I would add that their publications are of great value to anyone who wishes to delve into the thinking of scholars of Byzantine and related studies. Be sure to explore their coin and seal collection.

Dumarton Oaks also offers manuscripts in digital form. Of the Manuscripts in the Byzantine Collection they say,

Illustrated manuscripts are not simply texts. Neither are they simply a series of images. They are objects which combine text and image into a visual and verbal tool with particular uses and behaviors. We experience books sequentially by turning the pages. We can only experience a real book as openings, and then only one opening at a time. These animated manuscripts allow you to page back and forth through these books as they were intended to be used, and as they were used for hundreds of years before arriving at the museum.

The Dumbarton Oaks search page for the collections is easy to use. Simply choosing from the icons or heading leads to this early Byzantine pendant or this one.

J PAUL GETTY MUSEUM

The J Paul Getty Museum is a delightful museum with a wonderful, easy to use search pattern. J Paul Getty Museum-Byzantine search and the example:Bead 9-10 century. I would love to see more museum web pages this easy to use.