[Sca-cooks] Wohlgemuth's woodcut

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Sun May 17 19:48:44 PDT 2009

You need to view the paintings in terms of medieval artistic conventions. 
Figure size often denotes rank or power.  The largest figure is the ranking 
individual.  In this case, you have a powerful lord (in this case most 
likely the Holy Roman Emperor) at feast with his vassels (who would be great 
lords and ladies, as suggested by all the brass).  The tables do contain 
both men and women, although it is difficult to make out.  The cultural 
norms of the time usually required ladies to coif and cover their hair or be 
considered a loose woman.

You also must consider that this is not an SCA feast depicted, that in this 
woodcut position at table denotes rank and favor.  The individual at the 
head table is alone because he has no equal in the room.  Lonely, perhaps, 
but the seat of power (very likely where the King's word really is law). 
The position of the head table in the woodcut is an artistic convention.  At 
the actual feast, the table would be positioned where the lord could see his 
vassels and they could see him.

The tub may contain booze, but it could also be for pre-dinner ablutions at 
the head table.

The all women feast in the second illustration is very likely a lunch for a 
lady and her noble retainers.  High ranking women often had their own 
household, which was combined with their husband's household when the two 
were together.  The simple fact that trenchers are being prepared and served 
to the table says that these are illustrations from great households.


> I'm having trouble picking out any guys among the rear tables.
> Basically I passed over the single guy in the front table. That  simply 
> appeared to be the table the servants were using to prep  things, 
> including the trenchers. But the guy does have on a coronet.  An awful 
> large amount of coronets on various heads in this picture.  Symbolic or 
> real?
> And I would expect the head honcho to be in a location overlooking  the 
> hall and the feast. Not off in a corner facing away from the  action. But 
> the musicians do appear to be playing for him. Seems a  rather lonely 
> position to be in, though.
> Maybe it's just artistic license, but how many of you SCA and ex-SCA 
> Royalty would have been happy at an SCA feast seated by yourself  facing 
> away from the populous, even if the service was the utmost in  excellence? 
> He does seem to have all the booze, though, in the iced?  tub?
> Still leaves the other illustration though. And what the all-women  feast 
> was all about.
> Stefan
> ------
> Wohlgemuth's woodcut from Der Schatzbehalter represents a full blown 
> feast
> in formal robes rather than ladies dining.  If you look closely at the
> picture, there are individuals with coifed hair (female) and others with
> loose hair (male).  The central figure has loose hair, suggesting the 
> person
> is male and the fact that he is dining alone at a central head table 
> makes
> him a personage of extreme rank, probably the Holy Roman emperor.
> Bear
> Uh oh. There are in fact two illustrations in my master copy which  show
> what appear to be lady's feasts. The one Bear described and a  second 
> one.
> The second one is also 15th Century but from Nuremburg.  Unfortunately,
> the pictures didn't seem to make it to the web  version. I thought I  only
> had problem with one and put off fixing it  till later. Let me see  what I
> can do.
> If you download the Word formatted version the pictures should be in
> there.
> I had not noticed this until Bear mentioned it, but *all* of the 
> feasters
> in these two pictures appear to be women. I hadn't realized  that  that 
> was
> done.
> Stefan
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