As we enter the second year of existence, I am happy to say that we picked up a significant number of new members at Pennsic this year (see the Annual Meeting report below). Our membership is now up to 65 people. To our new members I extend a hearty welcome. If you'd like to see what we've been up to, please browse to our home page (vms.www.uwplatt.edu/~goldschmidt/ slavic.html). If you are not internet-equipped, please feel free to contact me for copies of our bibliography, mailing list (with a listing of our members and their interests), and back issues of our newsletters.
My apologies about the long wait on the newsletters. I put them out as often as I have material. If you have anything that I can use, I would be most appreciative (and I thank Predslava for her contribution this issue). What do I need? Information on new books and/or book reviews (positive and negative), as well as short articles (of around 100-300 words). Subject matter? Anything related to things Slavic that you think other people in SIG might enjoy. I am, as always, particularly interested in non-Russian topics.
I also need material for the Bibliography. It's grown quite large, by the way, and is now around nineteen pages (double its length from a year ago!).
Okay, it's a bit gratuitous but I felt that I'd announce to all of you that I've recently become engaged to Olena Ksen'ia Barsova. We are planning a Russian-themed wedding for Pennsic XXVII (1998) and you are all invited to attend. Ideas for the wedding are welcome (and there's plenty of time to plan!). On a similar note, Kythe Szubielka writes that he has gotten engaged to a Celt (Sine Ruadh Friseal), "She's roughly 600 years older than me but I think the age thing is overrated."
We had our second annual meeting at Pennsic XXV on Tuesday, August 13th. We had about twenty people present at the meeting. Some of them were returning old members, but we also had a significant number of new people there.
A number of book suggestions were made (many of which were entered into the bibliography). National Geographic featured an article last year on a frozen grave site in Russia.
A number of research suggestions were also made. The Polish National Association was suggested as a valuable source, as was the Ukrainian museum in Saskatchewan.
There was a general consensus that there needs to be a section of the Bibliography devoted to sources that are not recommended, as it is often difficult to know what is a good and a bad source. [I have made an attempt to start such a project below -- PWT]
There was also a bit of discussion about doing something more than a meeting. One suggestion was to hold some sort of gathering next year that involved eating. Ilyana offered to organize such an event if she can get some help from other people who have an interest in cooking. In the more distant future, there was interest in a Slavic encampment or meeting place.
Finally, we learned that there is a group on the West Coast of SCA members with Slavic Personas. Efforts will be made in the next couple months to contact this group in hope that we can combine or at the very least share resources back and forth.
Predslava Vydrina provides the following recommendation:
I strongly recommend the book Russkii istoricheskii kostium dlia stseny ([Russian Historical Costume For the Stage]. Edited by Nadezhda Vladimirovna Giliarovskaia. Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1945) to all costumers who want to create Russian garb. Its great drawback is that it's in Russian and that there is no translation into English. And yet, it contains a large amount of pictures and patterns!
Even with no knowledge of the Russian language, the patterns can be used to make garb. They are based on a universal scale that depends on the measurements of the intended wearer of the clothes. Here is a translation of the directions for scaling and reproducing the patterns full-size:
"Take half the chest circumference and divide it by 48. The result corresponds to 1 unit on the pattern charts." (Note that it doesn't matter whether you use centimeters, inches or your pinkie, as long as the measurement is accurate) "The measurements on the patterns always start from the vertical line marked A at its upper end. Horizontal lines always start at the vertical line."
To find out to what illustrations the patterns correspond (if you don't read Russian), play a little matching game: find the picture and the pattern with the same caption (hint: they're mostly next to each other).
Note again: the chest-measurement thing works just fine for women. You will probably need to make a few adjustments, but no more than with any other pattern.
One of the requests from our annual meeting was that we should create a list of "non-recommended" books and sources to warn the user. This is a good idea but will call for a great deal of work. People familiar with the literature are needed to help the rest of us who do not know a good book from a bad one. It will also require a degree of tact. After all, there is little to be gained by simply trashing a number of books. It is far more useful to provide an explanation of why the source is problematic (e.g., poor documentation, inaccurate drawings, erroneous conclusions, etc). So please help out! If you know of any really bad sources, send in a short write up. Initially, I will print these in the Newsletter but then start collecting them in the Bibliography.
For now, however, I'll give it a try myself:
While useful in describing pagan rituals (a very difficult to document phenomenon), Hubbs's discussion of matriarchical themes in Russian culture is considered to be an unreliable source in academic circles. The heavy reliance upon secondary and tertiary (particularly Soviet- era) sources is indicative of both the difficulty of the subject and the questionability of the scholarship. Still, Hubbs exacerbates the problem by making assumptions and logical leaps of faith that can be readily refuted through available literature. For example, she asserts that the Orthodox Saint Paraskeva was in fact the central figure in a goddess-cult in period (a position effectively proven false through Eve Levin's archival research). While the book makes useful contributions on understanding Russian matriarchy, it cannot be taken as significant proof in and of itself of cultural practices.
So, can others help out on this task?
Standard Disclaimer Stuff: Most of us are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc (SCA) but our Interest Group and its newsletter are not officially affiliated with the SCA. Naturally, then, this Newsletter does not bear any intentional resemblance to anything that the SCA officially endorses.
The publisher and editor is Paul Wickenden of Thanet (Paul Goldschmidt), 675 Staley Ave, Platteville WI 53818, 608-348-6209, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no subscription fee and copies of this irregularly-produced Newsletter are available free of charge from the editor.