Creating a Persona: Starting Points

Persona Development– where to begin? The answer to this question is amazingly diverse.  It begins with, “what do you like?” and “what do you want?” and everything else will follow.

Case: a lovely member of the SCA is into spinning and weaving. She finds a particular period in which the methods and materials are well documented and dives into a new aspect of her passion for spinning. She learns to card weave to produce her own trim, which she is careful to match fiber to fiber so that everything shrinks at the same rate. She studies period methods of dyeing the fiber. She gets a small period correct loom. She makes some garb to go with this persona.

Case: a gentleman takes up the practices of Chivalry. He goes to fighter practice, loves it, and makes his own armor.  He stays with it, wearing the same simple t-tunic he sewed first. However, he discovers a book by Dr. Timothy Dawson titled, ARMOUR NEVER WEARIES SCALE AND LAMELLAR ARMOUR IN THE WEST FROM THE BRONZE AGE TO THE 19TH CENTURY.  He is hooked on lamellar armour.  He creates his own armor and that requires some new garb. He discovers Sartor, a fabric company that recreates period fabrics and gets a piece of brocade from his period and culture and uses it to trim his “court garb”. Suddenly his persona has begun to develop!

Case: a young college student comes to a garb session and sits down with some books that trace clothing styles through various time periods and cultures.  She spots a dress. THE dress, that dress that she wants bad enough to buy linen instead of cheaper cotton, and spend hours sewing.  The DRESS sets her time period and culture. From there she learns about the foods available and how they were preserved and joins the cooking guild. She even hunts down some herbs that were commonly used by her persona and grows them in pots on the window sill of her apartment.

murienne-corbeaudiscussing-headgear-at-laurel-prize-tourney-murienne-corbeau-and-mistress-kaitlyn

The photos are by Anna Maleine and were taken at the Laurel’s Prize Tourney in Ansteorra. This is the artisan Murienne Corbeau discussing her work with Mistress Kaitlyn.

My last case is me. I am fascinated by the writings of Early Christians.  In grad school the course was Patristics. The Cappadocian Fathers were incredible to read and fascinating to learn about. I wanted my persona to read, and to live where she could read early Christian writers like these.  So, Eastern Roman, 10th century during the reign of an emperor powerful enough to secure the borders and create peace enough for a reflowering of learning and art.

Geography, Culture, Art, Clothing, Armor, Method of fighting (rapier is later period), Equestrian, Fiber Arts, Ethnicity, Gardening, Cooking, Metal Working, Wood Working, Chivalry, Knights, Education, Books, Authors, Artists….the starting points are as varied as the amazing people who enter the SCA.

Have fun!

 

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.

The City: Constantinople in 1200

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to actually WALK THROUGH CONSTANTINOPLE?  This wonderful web site is a re-creation based on archeological records and the knowledge of great scholars merged with a wonderful geeky computer person.  Go see what they have done! It is WONDERFUL!

APPROACHING BY SEA the traveler could have seen these sea walls and marveled at the size and scope of the defenses! They would see the Hagia Sophia in the distance on a rise– imagine approaching at night during Easter with the entire place lit up?

I can just imagine sitting in these seats (scroll down a bit) and watching the races. I love horse races! Scroll a bit further down and imagine driving your horses through the arch onto the track and the cheering of the crowds.

The Monastery of St John the Baptist was of great influence in the 9th century and very likely in my focus on the 10th century. The architecture dates back into the mid to late 400’s. It is very beautiful and the original funding was by a senator Stoudios.

Home to Basil II in the 10th century: the Boukoleon Palace.

Of course I had to visit the page for the Hagia Sophia. I read a book on Liturgy for my period and region of the world. It talked about where the Divine Liturgy began and from which point it moved. Quite the complicated liturgical pattern!  Now I can “see” the building and imagine each part of the Divine Liturgy.

Of course, this wonderful site has a page of links to similar sites that cover places like ROME and BABYLON.  Go look, the work is so awesome and amazing!

Oh the joy I feel when perusing these pages!

I am very much hoping that this marvelous web site eventually will become a full color table top book with a CD– that is what I want. I would happily spend for a book and CD like that– and might even give a copy as a gift if I knew of a family member who would appreciate it enough!

Or maybe a wonderful app for the IPad where you could walk through and click on the map and read about each place.  I would download that to my iPad in a heartbeat, and again to my kid’s iPad!  I’d buy such an app!

So, go visit this wonderful site and enjoy. Wish they had a go-fund-me so they can do even more of this sort of work.  I love archeology recreated so we can better understand what the places were like in the past.