ANST - Barcoding

Timothy A. McDaniel tmcd at
Mon Aug 4 08:02:43 PDT 1997

Caladin wrote:
> I think we have [newbies] ... even if we call them "Yellow feathers"
> (which i still think is a good idea to set out people who need a
> little extra friendlyness to wean them in...)

Well, I don't like "barcoding" in the context of the SCA.

I can think of period examples of showing state: Jews' hats and badges,
prostitutes (in some places and times) wearing clothing turned inside
out, special clerical clothing -- all things that come to mind

However, much of *our* usage use more generic tokens.  (E.g., note
that two of the examples include most of the clothing that one wears.)
This puts large restrictions on our recreation.  Four of the common
belt colors are more or less taken.  You have to be careful about
period jewelry around your neck.  Ladies have to be careful about what
they put on their head to hold their veils on.  And now there are
proposals to take up two feather colors!

To digress, and perhaps to explain why I have a stronger reaction than
some: In the heraldic field, there is an approach sometimes called "My
Life on My Arms (or, I Can't Barcode My Social Security Number on My
Arms, but I'll Come as Close as I Can!)".  This is the school of "I'm
a fighter, so I'll put a sword on my arms, and I like drinking, so
I'll put a beer mug on there, and ...".  It leads to non-period
designs, because
- they *didn't* put their life on their arms, by and large (until you
  got to corporate, guild, and burgher armory).  I doubt there was any
  Deep Significance to the Mortimers (I think) bearing a fess between
  two chevrons.  A lot of armory, expecially early period, had plain
  fields or simple geometrics -- there WERE no symbolic charges.
- when there WAS significance, it was because the arms were a pun on
  the last name.  A dog for the Talbots.  Two fish for the Perches,
  and the Roaches too (another type of fish).
- the characteristics were often general.  Fighters were SUPPOSED to
  be fierce, and amost knights and nobles were supposed to be
  fighters.  Most EVERYONE liked drinking.  I think of it as the
  "Dafydd the Archer" phenomenon.  OK, Dafydd, you're an archer, but
  nicknames are supposed to distinguish you; how does it distinguish
  you from half the men in your cantref?
- the symbolism is often not what period people would have used.  If I
  had to guess blindly, I suspect it's a murky subject (because
  theoretical manuals may not have matched practice, and because
  practice varied so much.  White is for mourning, you know).
  However, I suspect that *lions* were the symbol of fighting prowess.

I *have* digressed and ranted, haven't I?  I'm sorry.  Still, perhaps
I have given a bit of food for thought.

Daniel de Lincoln
Tim McDaniel.   Reply to tmcd at
tmcd at is not a valid address.


To be removed from the Ansteorra mailing list, please send a message to
Majordomo at Ansteorra.ORG with the message body of "unsubscribe ansteorra".

More information about the Ansteorra mailing list