Rhiannon's Comments on the Ice Dragon Competition, 2004
-------The comments I am about to make here are strictly my own-signed, Mistress Rhiannon y Bwa, OL.-----
The items you are viewing were entered into an SCA Kingdom of AEthelmearc competition in March 2004. I took my digital camera to this public display and am the photographer for all photos posted here.
This is a competition known for the quality of not only its entries, but for the quality of the documentation that ties the items displayed to those which might have been made in the period from 600 CE to 1600 CE (mainly in Europe). This year I was struck by the loveliness of it all.
These words are my personal thank you to all the Craftsmen/Craftswomen who entered their work in this competition.
It was a deep pleasure to actually be able to touch these beautiful things, to pick them up and feel the weight of a lantern, to run my hand over a silky soapstone spindle whorl; to feel the velvet of a German gown or arming coat; to put a key in a Viking chest lock and open it up, to taste a sucket, to see the full beauty of a Bayeaux-style tapestry up close; to feel the heft of a 4 barrel Gonne and feel the dents it makes in metal plate; to smooth my hand over a little deerskin purse; to use a magnifying glass to peer at a tiny manuscript leaf, or a silver thread. My eyes delighted in color, in the fine tracery of matching scrolls; the rich color of the "correct" pigments; the translucent vellum; the portrait paintings of oil; smooth diamond patterned linen and glittering silver brocade weavings. I loved the beautiful duck, golden pies, bottles of ordinary beer, flavored mead; marvelous carved bones, tusk, whale teeth and tiny little fighting men, going two by two to War. I had limited time to skim the explanations of how these wonderful things were made, but I dipped and dived thru many wonderful explanations & sources, taking notes as fast as I could. When I came to the research papers, I was amazed at the quality, the depth. I copied down author's names and subjects in hopes I could one day talk to them about their research or attend their classes. I enjoyed each and every entry, from the joy of color in a child's weaving to a huge and frightening Roman Ballista, with quarrels that would sail thru my body like butter. I would like all who may not have "won" the competition to know that the things they worked so long on and displayed that day touched me and many others. We didn't know "the winners" until after the competition was closed. But long before that we had all already "won" by the generosity and courage of those who entered the competition and took the risk of criticism and perhaps the shame of "losing" their bid to be in first place.
Yes, alas, it was a competition, and some of these things would have to be judged better than others. In many cases, the quality of the documentation was the biggest difference in one object "pulling ahead" of another in the judging. There is triumph in winning, to be sure. But judging is an uncertain thing, and winning is for one day only. Research is a life long endeavor for many of us. The SCA is full of experimental archaeologists playing in the Middle Ages with the thoughts and things of the Middle Ages. Vivat to us all, every one.
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