[Scriptoris] Champion/Prize Scrolls or Historical Reproduction/Interpretations

Diane Rudin serena1570 at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 29 08:01:38 PDT 2006

--- Hillary Greenslade <hillaryrg at yahoo.com> wrote:

> What are your thoughts on entering scrolls for branch and kingdom
> competitions?  
> Or for something where the event is more a display, such as
> Laurel's Prize Tourney, or a body of work display?  

All of the facts about to be stated apply to Ansteorra.  Mileage in
other kingdoms *will* vary--GREATLY!

It is established fact that, for the last decade at least, SCA-type
"hybrid" documents that combine a legal document with an illuminated
manuscript page will not score well at scored Ansteorran kingdom
competitions, and possibly at branch competitions as well, if the
kingdom forms are being used.

It is also a fact that some judges will be much more harsh than
others about this.  This is not meant to scare people, just to
prepare them for the reality of high-level competition.  That's why
we try to get more than one judge on a piece, and from a different
"school of thought".

There seems to be less stigma attached to entering them as part of a
display, although a higher level of authenticity is expected at
Laurels' Prize.

The most positive venue for SCA-type "hybrids" of late seems to be
populace-vote competitions, and displays specifically of SCA

> Should your scroll entry be in the format of an SCA Prize or
> Champion scroll (such as a King's
> Champion scroll with Ansteorran Award Texts)?
> Or should it be in the format of a historical reproduction or
> interpretation, not necessarily SCA
> in theme; possibly using a period poem, song or even SCA bardic
> work as the text, instead of duplicating a historical text?

Depends on the venue.  At the highest competitive levels, it should
be the latter.  Getting into greater detail, you need to document not
just the elements, but the combination and context of those elements.

For instance, a bard writes a Canterbury-style original piece.  The
best possible presentation of this piece will be in a script and
illumination context in which Canterbury tales appeared in
period--Ellesmere Chaucer, printed folio, etc.  It will not be as
well-served if it is done with "Celtic" knotwork illumination and a
Romanesque script.  

(As a side note, when entering such a piece, please be very careful
about what you write on the "entry" line.  If you write "Canterbury
tale", they're going to judge the poetry, not the calligraphy. 
Always remember to be very, very specific about what you want judged!
 Context will always be taken into account, as described above, but
if you want your calligraphy judged knowlegeably, say "15th-century
calligraphy" instead of "calligraphed poem" or "calligraphy".  The
former will get you a poetry judge and the latter could get you a
Celt who knows nothing about 15th-century batarde.)

Songs are tougher, as period musical notation is so different.  It
would be cool to see one done right.

I usually reserve my highest scores for something that is not an
exact copy, but would be indistinguishable if shuffled into a stack
of other, period documents of the same purpose, time, and place (but
no fake "aging", please--brown ink was almost certainly originally
black, so go ahead and use black ink).  This is mostly because that's
my personal interpretation of "creative" in the SCA context--making
new things in a period way, using period materials, techniques, and
philosophies.  I happen to think that's harder to achieve than an
exact copy.  Put another way, it's copying the way copying was done
in period, not the modern idea of a photocopy.

In that vein, I, for one, would rather see more of the sort of thing
that I believe Oriana did recently, of doing a piece of illumination
for the commemorative, rather than a "scroll".  (Sara, correct me if
I'm wrong; wasn't that the purpose of the piece Oriana entered in
Kingdom A&S this last February?)  That is really closer to what would
have been done in period, anyway.  People who won competitions got
prizes, not documents.  (Although they wouldn't have gotten
illuminated pages, either, it's closer to being a prize than a
document, IMO.)

Of course, there's another, very period outlet for people who want to
put illumination on a document--achievements!  We're working on
updating those texts, which will be available as a separate document.
 Achievement documents weren't as heavily illuminated in period as
your average SCA document, but did have some illumination on them, at
least in England.  Also, heraldic painting really isn't as difficult
as people make it out to be; you just need access to good source
material (NOT Victorian!), and basic rules of layout and balance.

Finally, there IS illumination on certain period English legal
documents; it's just that it was very strictly regulated as to layout
and content.  [Yes, yes, I know what I used to say; those who have
been paying attention over the years will have noted that I have
altered my stance on this matter little by little over the years as I
have done more extensive research, and as more source material has
become available.  The "illuminated manuscript" approach is *still*
not one that I can support with available evidence.]

One note: I would never do an exact replica of the text of a period
legal document.  That's called "forgery", and it's illegal.

As examples, here are some projects that I'm looking at for Kingdom
A&S someday, or have done already:  

-- a Book-of-Hours page or pages, where the text goes with the
illumination (in other words, the illumination with the Matins text
is Matins illumination and not, say, calendar or penetential psalms
or Lauds or Office of the Dead or....)

-- letters patent with historically-based text, script, and

-- a secular illuminated manuscript page, from a time and place where
there is a definite difference between the illumination & scripts
being used in secular, as opposed to sacred, texts (like Renaissance

-- achievement documents with historically-based text, script,
heraldic art, and decoration

-- something Greek, on papyrus

-- reconstructing a complete Book of Hours, right down to text (which
varied lots by time and place), iconography, etc. (this would be
entered as an artifact-supported research project entry rather than
as a static arts entry)  [this is the really, really long-term
really, really nutty project]

--Serena Lascelles

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