A&S Exhibit, A Moveable Feast

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A reproduction of part of the Bayeux Tapestry
Photo by Lady Mary of Montevale

By Lady Mary of Montevale,
Features Reporter

A visitor to the Barn on Monday for the Pennsic 41 A&S Exhibit could have managed to spend the entire five hours there without ever having to leave for lunch thanks to the samples available at some of the displays.
The first of these I encountered were the two substantial examples of cured pork, both thinly sliced to be available for a large number of nibblers. Just two rows away, my nose led me to the display beneath the large Atlantian A&S banner where Nikulai and Girard of Windmaster’s Hill had earthenware jugs of their brewing products. If you were over 21, you could sample four different all-grain brews (from 6% to 9% alcohol); a non-alcoholic root beer was available for all ages.
Then I spied the plates of three different period ravioli. They were the exhibit of Rose of Sternfeld (Mid) who at the age of eleven was participating in Pennsic’s adult display for the second year in a row. While Rose offered samples to passers-by, her mother Lady Caristonia Ainslie explained some of the details of the cooking project.
The French ravioli contained spinach and mint, both from the home garden. This was a late 16th c. dish for which the source was the Overture de cuisine. The Italian ravioli - mid-15th c. from the Libro di arte cocinaria, contained chicken and bacon. Both these ingredients were purchased from a local butcher, just as a person in period would have done. The English ravioli with a cheese and saffron filling was from the late 14th c and the source was Forme of Cury. Although the saffron was purchased, Rose made the cheese and the butter for this herself.
Rose also made the pasta, rolled it, and hand-filled the ravioli. She chopped ingredients by hand - no food processor was used, and she hand-ground all the herbs using a mortar and pestle. For today’s exhibit, the ravioli were boiled in water in an electric pot due to the limitations inherent in the location (the Barn).
While Rose and I talked, Baroness Arielle sampled the wares and declared the the two delicious, period vegetarian ravioli “gave her great pleasure,” and presented young Rose with a beautiful long-stemmed red rose in appreciation. Just starting seventh grade this year, the young cook also appreciates that although school has already begun, she was able to get permission from her principal for this trip to Pennsic to count as an excused absence; it is an educational trip. While she is here, she is also an enthusiastic youth fighter and served as a water bearer yesterday for the My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad tourney. It’s not all vacation of course-her viola sat in its case under the exhibit table so that she would not miss her music practice this afternoon after the display ended at 3.
One of the displays from the West was a Gorgon pebble mosaic done in the Greek style. About three feet by two and a half, it may end up being made into a table, according to its creator Lady Nisaa Karahisari. Gorgon mosaic images have been a favorite of hers for many years, but her inspiration to make this piece was modern recent and very personal. The stunning mosaic is a gift for her husband Ajax, and she was to present it to him later in the day when he is knighted on the battlefield. (Yes, he already knows about the gift. It weighs about fifty pounds and was one of the things with him on the drive from the West Coast to Pennsic.)
There are always many eye-catching and interesting items in the A&S display. One of the most unusual was a real boar’s tusk in a wire frame created by Rignach verch Aniel Dubh of Æthelmearc. She was inspired by two Bronze Age grave finds from France and Germany, the earliest of which dates from the 16th c. B.C.E. She explained that she was drawn to the piece as a potential project in order to learn how the makers of the originals had done the wirework. The size of the tusk-about nine inches-is the determining factor for the proportions of the wirework enclosing it.
Other stunning piece on display included:
A heraldic shield bearing the Midrealm device done in size 15 myuki beads on linen and appliqued on a black velvet pouch by Lady Isabeau du Vallé (East) who has undertaken a personal quest to complete such a pouch for each kingdom of the SCA.
A dress decorated with blackwork and a wooden box cover insert in the same style which were done by Mistress Safiya bint Suleiman (Trimaris) as part of her research into the origins of blackwork in 9th-10th c. India.
Scrolls to be awarded to the winners in the three forms (spear, axe, and knife) of the Thrown Weapons Champions Tourney on Tuesday which has been made by Æthelmearc scribes, including Pani Zofia Kowaleweska and Baron Caleb Reynolds, who himself participates in Thrown Weapons.
Intaglio work by Rekon of Saaremaa (Caid) who also demonstrated her craft at Artisans’ Row on Saturday.
An exquisite miniature manuscript page which Master Ranthulfr Asparlund (Mid) had entered in a University of Michigan alumni show.
But the item attracting the most attention and the most picture-taking on Monday was the Bomticc tapestry - a tapestry history of the SCA from AS 1 through (eventually, when completed) AS 50. The project, done in the size and style of a Bayeux Tapestry, has been completed up to about AS 27 and the beginning of Gulf Wars.
Lady Jadwiga Wlodzislawska (Mid) says she began the tapestry in 2009 after learning of the AS 50 Project because it seemed to be a good way to make use of her collection of SCA historical facts and trivia, and it was something she could do in her small apartment.
The top strip of panels, stretched about 30 feet across the Barn, began (of course) with that very first tourney held on May 1, 1967, in a backyard in Oakland, CA. A panel or two later, the East Kingdom was created, and if you know your SCA heraldry and history, it is possible to count off the years as other kingdoms are born, with Æthelmearc and Ealdormere making their appearance very near the end of what has been completed on the second strip of panels.
Some sad events, such as the death of a Queen of Atenveldt in AS 20, are shown, as is at least one modern world event - the appearance of Halley’s Comet in AS 21. (The comet which appears on the original Bayeux Tapestry as a portent of the critical events of 1066 was identified centuries later as Halley’s as well.) There are also some less widely-known firsts in SCA history depicted such as the first University event, the first augmentation of arms, and the first occasion when a Pelican was awarded by an individual kingdom rather than by the Society.
Lady Jadwiga was giving “guided tours” of her amazing creation throughout the entire time the A&S exhibit was open. She explained to me that some of the information was very hard to find, and she mentioned the wikis of the kingdoms of Caid and An Tir as having been especially helpful. She also pointed out to me that her tapestry is worked on muslin the same width as the widest measure point of the actual Bayeux Tapestry, because to do it in linen would have been prohibitively expensive.
Vivats to all the artisans in Monday’s A&S Exhibit!