Summer AS XXXVII (2002)
Volume VII, Issue 4 (#27)


From the Nachalnik

Summery greetings to all SIG members! It's warm now which means that it's time for War! While no one contacted me directly about Pennsic this year, I have heard that there will be a SIG gathering at Pennsic on Monday, August 12th at 7pm. As always, you are encouraged to bring food (cups will be provided this time!), books, A&S projects, and thoughts to share. More information will be available at the site. Once again I am unable to attend, so I will look forward to accounts, pictures, and reviews of the War for the Fall issue (hint! hint!).

As always, I very much appreciate the generosity of SIG members and wish to thank Maria Piekneplotno for our monetary donation towards the costs of producing and distributing this issue.




The Golden Given

By Kinjal of Moravia

He came, did he, son of the ancient Mongol curse.
The milling hoard, 'tis said, took days unto five to
wend its golden passage through the fields of Kazan.
No more the gently swaying white blooms of springtime
whose reflecting streams have vanished into mire.
Gone is the suckling calf and scurrying duck -
dust has consumed the heart of this land.
Gone is the laughter of freedom's child.
Dead is the youth of tomorrow's dream.
The wind howls through the broken sheathes,
stained red in the setting of each mother's hope.
He comes. He comes. Golden does Batu come.

They fell, did they, cities at the crossroads of time.
Each by each they were swept aside by golden wind
that carried no arrow nor awesome Grecian fire.
Rotten within, ruled by withered Princes far,
whose vain riches extended not unto silent fields.
Strong were towering walls at the mountain pass
where ancient plan would have turned the flow.
Weak, weak was the resolve of shallow men
with no tie to the land save greed of trade.
How easily swayed by the promise of gifts,
passage sure, and strong protecting throng.
"I am the gift. Give thanks", calls the golden son.

They wept, did they, simple of the forest and plain
whose thin arms twisted strong like the mountain vines,
with faces carved with years of torment and pain.
The tears were inside, but gave forth a common bond
born more of pulse with the earth than heaven's song.
They stood shoulder to hip in the meadow.
Women tall, child small, cripples on their knees,
gathered stones and poles and kitchen pots.
They took stand with wooden hoe and brace of cart
for no weapons right did defend their land.
The wind ceased to blow 'neath their stalwart cry,
"We are the given - stand nigh in setting sun."

Batu said, "pass on."




Quest 2002: Journey to Visit the Great Khan

By Peotr Alexeivich Novgorodski

Quest is a scavenger hunt/ adventure game run each Memorial Day Weekend by the SCA Barony of Settmour Swamp. This year Peotr Alexeivich had the opportunity to write the script. Below are his notes, followed by comments at the end on how it worked out.

BACKGROUND

The Journey to Visit the Great Khan is meant to recreate the travels of Europeans visiting the court of Genghis Khan and his descendants. The Travels of Marco Polo is the most famous source and a good reference, but several other short accounts are in print. See http://imperial.palace.net/~ostrov/warning.html

OVERVIEW

Questers will be faced with varied cultures and unfamiliar situations. Good listening, flexibility, openness to strange and different experience and intelligence will be rewarded. Questers will have to cross deserts, mountain passes, meet fierce border guards, fight off brigands and try strange foods. In order to succeed they will need to acquire several items including - a staff, twelve gold pieces, a horse, ritual purity, a rock, a safe conduct pass and some nice snacks. At the end of the travels lies the court of the Khan. To enter bribes must be paid (gold) and all the other items shown. If you are polite to the Khan and answer his riddle, you get the job of bringing his daughter (the Princess) back to Persia to marry the Il-Khan. If you succeed in this you get some pasta and are sent on to Venice. Find Venice and you win.

THE START

Questers start with four gold coins and some advice.

"You are headed on a long journey to find the court of the Great Khan. You will pass through lands with strange customs, listen well, be polite and learn. If you are harassed by brigands (and you may be) defend yourself well--but in doing so, YOU MAY NOT TOUCH THEM Good luck and don't neglect your food."

OBSTACLES

1. Get the Mongol Koumiss. Mongol asks for help, "Catch my horse, so that I can make koumiss." There are four horses, Questers have to catch the female (she has udders), and milk her. After the mare is milked the herdsman will offer Questers koumiss (buttermilk). If at least one drinks, Questers get safe conduct pass. [Can try repeatedly, but must go away between attempts]

Characters: 4 horses, 1 herdsman
Props: 4 horse costumes, buttermilk, safe conduct passes
Prize: safe conduct pass

2. Cross waterless desert. Guide "You must travel for 12 days across waterless lands. Preserve your water well." Three-legged water carry (two of three Questers) with ladle around a marked route. At least half the water must be in ladle at end of route. [Note good place for brigands to harass people.] Questers get staff if successful. [Can try repeatedly, but must go away between attempts]

Characters: 1 desert guide
Props: karate belt to tie legs, staffs, ladle
Prize: staff

3. Cross mountain pass. Mountain guide, "You have to cross the roof of the world to get to the court of the Great Khan." Questers must walk a course of zigzagging 2"x 6" or logs. All Questers must cross without falling off. They can help each other, but staff is required for success. Guide gets to bother Questers, throw popcorn or puffed rice, "avalanche!" and otherwise harass them. Prize for success is a tumbled pebble. [Can try repeatedly, but must go away between attempts]

Character: Mountain Guide
Props: 2" x 4", cider blocks, faux snow, pebbles
Prize: pebble at top of pass

4. Explain your beliefs/religion/world view. Mongol border guard -- extremely fierce and glowering -- wants to know. Guard will look very pissed off, test edge of weapons, etc. Mongols are very tolerant of religion, however, and all answers are correct. Mongol gives parties 3 gold coins after adequate explanation. Four if they say they are going to see the Great Khan. [Can only pass once]

Character: Border Guard
Props: armor, weapons, bad attitude, gold coins
Prize: 3 or 4 gold coins

5. Ritual purification. Questers are invited to walk between to fires to be purified by a Shaman. A fee or donation is requested. Whatever Questors pay, they get back double. [Can only pass once].

Character: Shaman
Props: two fires, blue ribbon, coins
Prize: blue ribbon, possibly coins

6. Visit the Mage. Opportunity to gamble your gold in three card Monte. Odds 3:1 against Questers. Real opportunity to get information, if Questors ask right, they can get advice about what koumiss is and what the Khan's riddle is etc..

Character: Persian Mage
Props: card table, folding chair, game, coins
Price: ? win or loose coins, information

7. Meet Tuvan throat singer. He will play (tape) of Tuvan music. Asked Questers to recreate. They receive a horse if successful.

Character: Tuvan singer
Props: tape player, Tuvan tape, plastic horses
Prize: Plastic horse

8. Court of the Il-Khan. Persian ruler, very hospitable will feed and feast Questers endlessly. Lavish foods, music, and cloths. Location remote. Appears to be a time waster, but if Questers mention the Great Khan, they get a safe conduct pass and snacks.

Questors need to find/ or return here with Princess, later

Characters: Il-Khan and friends.
Props: Middle Eastern foods, snacks, safe conduct passes, spaghetti.
Prizes: 1) Safe conduct pass, snacks
2) When you bring Princess the Il-Khan is very happy to get the Khan's daughter for his son to marry. He gives you some pasta to bring back to Venice.

9. Pathfinder. Wanders, gives advice, tells stories, wastes time, brings people to Il-Khan. Eats people's snacks.

Character: Peotr

10. Court of the Great Khan. Big honking yurt with all Mongol trimmings. Outer guard requires a bribe of 12 gold coins and evidence of purification - blue ribbon to enter. Also gift of a horse and a rock. Khan's court inside, very lavish. Khan should converse with traveler and generally hassle them for a while. Ultimately a riddle is asked. If Questors answer correctly Khan gives them a mission--transport his daughter to the Il-Khan to marry the Il-Khan's son.

Characters: Khan, guards, more Mongols for atmosphere.
Props: Yurt, atmosphere
Prize: Princess.

11. Princess. Questors need to safely bring her to Il-Khan, station 9. She is very very fussy and if not pleased will sit down. Demands snacks and won't walk without them.

Character: Princess-- Joanne

12. Venice. Hard to find pizza and wine party.

Characters: A couple of Italians.
Props: Pizza, a nice Chianti
Prize: Bring the spaghetti here, you win!

ROVING BARRIERS

Brigand's job are mostly to add excitement and drama. Lots of chasing and noise is good. Also sneaking up on people or distracting them. Try not to steal Questor's money unless they are really dumb.

A. Western brigands. They try to rob you. Fierce, ugly and noisy. May only attack when Questers are not at a station. They mostly make lots of noise and can demand your money, but you don't have to give it to them. If Questers wave staff or make lots of noise they can be scared off. They may have water balloons or foam rocks. Make life hard for people looking for things.

B. Eastern brigands. They try to rob you. Fierce, pretty and wild. May only attack when Questers are not at a station. They mostly make lots of noise and can demand your money, but you don't have to give it to them. If Questers make lots of noise they can be scared off. They may have water ballons or foam rocks. Make life hard for people looking for things. If Questers have safe conduct brigands apologize abjectly. If Questors offer snacks, brigands give them two gold coins.

COMMENTS

The Barony of Settmour Swamp people were incredibly forthcoming in volunteering for roles as obstacles. They were equally inventive in elaborating on the their assignments. The mountain pass, for example spawned a Yeti and two very cute mountain goats. The goats in their skimpy furs and horns (we ran out of material) seriously harassed Questors by jumping on and off beams in suitable goat like fashion. The Great Dark Horde took their role seriously with the Khan saying things to the Questors like, "Don't stand on that rug, its my favorite, I don't want to get blood on it if I had to kill you." Meanwhile Venice spawned a mysterious population of ladies of the evening and their business managers, which confused many. The Brigand were superbly captained and managed to harass, shakedown and chase many teams. Different groups devised different strategies -- one of the most successful was running away.

THE WINNING TEAM

Kat, Mouse and Cathy, the winning team, listened extremely carefully to the clues I gave. They weren't fooled into paying money to the brigands. Their good manners won them through faster in a number of places. They flirted with one of the horses and captured him (her!) more easily. Their reverence to the Shaman earned them extra coins. They happened also to be lucky to cross the desert and mountain pass early, before line formed. Perhaps their only mistake was to step on the threshold of the Khan's yurt, generally a death penalty offence. However, they managed to survive and win Quest.




Dozynki Traditions

By Marilyn Niks

Dozyniki celebrates the Polish harvest. It originally took place anywhere from August 2nd to Fall Equinox depending on when the harvesting was done. It could last from four days to a couple of weeks and was quite a production. Dozyniki clearly has its roots in paganism as there are certain beliefs and rituals attached to it that predate Christianity. A special meaning was attached to leaving the last strip of crops in the ground after the harvest and then plowing it around in a ceremonial way. The last handfuls of grain found there in were called broda and it was believed they were inhabited by some kind of forces or spirits that could if treated in the correct way bring good crops the following year.

At the start of the harvest the reapers would decorate their tools with flowers and give a prayer of thanks for the harvest before beginning. Originally it is believed they prayed to the female goddess Czarnabog. Over time with the coming of Catholicisim and Dwojwirny this honor was transferred to Mary Mother of God. At that point the holiday became overlaid with the Feast of the Assumption and began to be celebrated around August 15th, and still is to this day.

Before the celebration the harvest takes place. During this time the reapers would go in turn to all the fields of the Panstwo

Gospardarze (local Lord and Lady) doing the entire area's harvesting and making a special ceremonial wreath called the przepiorka. This wreath is made of grains and decorated with flowers. They also choose the best female harvester to be the przodownica (queen of the festival) and wear the przepiorka.

On the holiday itself it has become tradition to begin the day with a Harvest Mass, at the offering the fruits of the harvest are presented for blessing. From there a procession is led to the Lords Manor. The przodownica often rode in a wagon pulled by four horses and decorated in greenery, surrounded by four maidens with flowers in their hair. On arrival the przodownica removes her crown of woven grains and flowers and presents it to the Lord as a ritual act of delivering the harvest into his hands while offering a prayer in thanks for the harvest and to the Lord and Lady of the manor. This crown or wreath was given a place of honor in the Lords home, like over the entrance hall as it represented the year's bounty. In the spring its seed would be added to the planting. The Lord then pours a toast for himself and the oldest male harvester and toasts the entire group and then dances with the przodownica. This signals the beginning of the festivities.

If the weather was favorable, the feast was held outside and of course a blessing was said over the food. The feast was likely to include things like kielbasa, krakowska, headcheese, kasanka, dill pickles, fresh tomatoes and other produce, boiled ham hocks (golonka), braised cabbage (biala kapusta duzona), hard boiled eggs, horseradish, pickled herring, fresh rye bread, honeyed cucumbers, and sugared strawberries. And plenty of beer and vodka of course!

Dozynki was a very important part of Slavic culture. My grandparents continued to celebrate it when they immigrated to their new home in Canada. It is a tradition our ancestors took very seriously. I believe they felt if they did not complete its rituals they were would be insulting God by not being properly thankful. And that if they behaved in such a way they would have no reason to expect a good harvest the following year! But regardless of what anyone believes it is a great part of our heritage and a good reason to party! Na zdrowie!!!

Bibliography

  • Grimal,Pierre Larousse. World Mythology. England: Hamlyn Publ Group Ltd, 1989.
  • Knab, Sophie. Polish Customs, Traditions & Folklore. New York, NY: Hippocrene Books; 1996.




    Armoring Ivan's Fighting Boiars
    Part Two: Body Armor

    By Mordak Timofeivich Rostovskogo

    Body armor in the time of Ivan the Terrible was varied, both in terms of style, weight and origin. Like other periods, the armor ran the gamut from works of art for the Tsar , Kniazii (Princes) and Great Boiars to a hodgepodge of captured, inherited and antique pieces among the Boiars, to easy to make quilted armors among the Deti Boiarsyn (Gentry), merchants and the 'no armor' look of a Moscovite streltsy soldier. Chainmail shirts were common and popular, especially those with flattened links called baydana. The one owned by Tsar Boris Gudonov currently travels with the Armory Museum collection.

    As was true in period, your personal armor is a gauge of your personal resources and status, though material availability and the importance it represents personally to the wearer is a more practical gauge. In this way, we parallel the personas we imitate from period the most closely, aside from the power politics most of us avoid almost as an article of faith. For the modern enthusiast and fighter, several materials and reference sources are easily accessible that didn't exist in period and act to significantly lighten the weight of your armor. So, dependant on your personal skills, training and experience (or that or those you know) the type of armor you attempt to create is decided mostly by your needs for the climate and combat you experience most often.

    Starting with the easiest to create, you could simply cut out plastic body armor and finish the ragged edges with a blowtorch. A red, knee length caftan over top would complete your look as a streltsy soldier in Moscovy. Another approach would be the caftan (jewel tone solid or patterned colors in cotton, linen, trigger, velvet or brocade) with a zertsala ('mirror' armor) over top. This was a Persian armor consisting of four curved, rectangular shaped plates, the shorter side plates having a curve cut on top to accommodate your armpit and the front plates covering chest and back from bellybutton to nipples. A strap over each shoulder and crossed strapping connecting each plate keeps everything in place, but flexible. It's easy, period and can be made of a variety of materials. If you have a taste for fancy armor, the plates can be decorated or covered in a variety of fabrics, paints or etching / embossing. For those living in hot climates, a pair of youth street hockey shoulder pads under a knee length, light weight brocade print cotton and closed cell foam padding adhered to the back of the zertsala plates will protect body and vulnerable shoulder joints.

    Next in difficulty is the Russian kolintar armor, also referred to as zertsala because of its high polish. The kolintar is a collection of overlapping, curved hand-sized plates extending between an 8-10" circular plate over the diaphragm and one over the back. This is a Russian version of a Turkish armor called a korizin , which uses larger circular plates front and back and smaller side plates and smaller upper chest and back plates (level just north of the nipples). The Russian kolantar has larger upper chest and back plates that reach the neck and are also dished to conform closely to the body. In addition, the Russian kolintar has a row of hand sized overlapping plates below the disks and extending around the body to protect hips, lower back and lower abdomen, all of which are absent in the Turkish korizin.

    Both the Russian and Turkish artifacts of this armor style are high end productions with loads of fluting and brasswork, all of which was probably absent on the majority of examples used in period. For flexibility, I am currently making a hybrid of the kolintar and korizin utilizing an aluminum alloy for the plates and disks, each of which are joined with three rows of 5/8" 12 gauge aluminum chainmail rings. No fluting, no brasswork, only closed cell padding adhered to the back of each plate and worn over a lightweight caftan and street hockey shoulder pads. The perfect melee and practice armor.

    Last, we have quilted armors such as the yushman and telegei. There seems to be a rather lively debate among eastern armor historians as to what exactly qualifies as characteristics defining each. For example, both employ cloth covered small plates that cover body and legs from the neck to the knees. The application seems to be the key point of differentiation between the two. The yushman seems to follow the construction of a western suit of jack, that is small overlapping plates riveted between two layers of cloth or leather, which may or may not also be quilted. The front of the yushman extends to the knees in front and over the buttocks in back with strap and buckle closures down each side. Typical horseman's armor and easy to make in quantity.

    The telegiei opens down the front, from neck to knees, has a stiffened, standing collar surrounding the helm and elbow length sleeves. This armor is quilted throughout with 2-3" wide diamond shaped plates sandwiched between layers of felt or cotton padding and a layer of outer and inner lining fabric. If you're a deti boiarsyn use canvas, duck cloth or trigger. If your persona is wealthier or pretentious, use brocade or velvet. Always have oversized armholes and wide sleeves, both for mobility and as a heat regulator. Use a simple running stitch with a heavier cord, silk or linen, to quilt the individual pieces before joining the edges together when making it. That allows you to make adjustments and trim off excess while the garment is still laid flat on a table top.

    I generally watch TV while I stitch a gambeson. This is no different, except for the diamond pattern of quilting and the use of plates between the layers of padding. Best of all, thin plastic pickle barrel or aluminum can be used for the plates and it is washable. I would recommend street hockey shoulder pads and a kidney belt reinforced with sturdy plastic to be worn underneath just to be safe. A close fitting waistline and flaring skirt will help with mobility. This was the most popular armor seen in the Russian host during the campaigns of Ivan the Terrible, especially among the Boiars, Deti Boiarsyn and their retainers on horseback. Now it's up to you. Good luck!




    Pelmeni

    By Alexey Kiyaikin

    Pelmeni is now a traditional Russian dish, that can be either first-course, or second-course. One theory is that it came into Russian cuisine rather late, sometime in the XVII-XVIII centuries (although the dish itself was developed by Finnish tribes of north-eastern Europe in about XV-XVII centuries, when Russian expansion brought never-before-known wheat flour to the region). However, there is another idea, that the dish was a borrowing from Chinese cuisine, and which case the age of the dish is several times older.

    To make it simple, pelmeni were developed by the Perm, a Finnish tribe, inhabiting the North Urals. They did not use wheat flour before, using rye and oats instead. So they dealt with it as if it was a delicious meal itself, making dishes with little dough and much meat. To make it more nutritious, they added any greens or vegetables that they could find (usually onions and nettle).

    Another characteristic feature of the dish (you will not see it in Ravioli!) is using three kinds of meat in the filling: beef, pork & mutton. As Pokhlebkin states in his book, their proportion in the filling is about 45:20:35 (or 2:1:2, to make it simpler). Mixing the meats really makes it tastier. Even now in Russia there is a difference between pelmeni (of any meat) and Siberian pelmeni (that try to keep to the original recipe). Epicurists prefer the latter!

    So! The recipe:

    Dough: 2.5 cups flour, 2 eggs, 0.5 cup cold (icy) water.

    Filling: 1 lb beef, 1/2 lb pound pork, 1 lb mutton, 3 onions, 2 tbs flour, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoonful ground black pepper (an additional ingredient usually added by Russian cooks is 1/2 cup neatly chopped nettle, previously scalded).

    Chop all the meat, add chopped onions, greens and all.

    Make tough dough, let it stay 15-20 minutes under a wet towel, then roll it into a very thin (about 1/8") layer. Cut dough into circles using a glass, then wet the edges of the circles with icy water (put your finger into icy water and wet the edges) to ensure they stick well. Put one teaspoonful filling onto the middle of each circle and bend the dough to make a crescent shape, pinching the edges to create a ridge shape. Then join the sharp edges of the crescent, making a bag-shape. Put them all onto a table or a tray with some flour spread over it, so that the pelmeni will not stick to it.

    To boil pelmeni you need either clear soup or water. In either case, handsomely add onions, laurel leaf & pepper, not to say salt. A low & wide vessel is preferable. The VERY traditional way is to boil them until they float, then pick out into the pan with some melted butter (otherwise they will stick to each other) and put back into the boiling water/clear soup, until they float again. As for me, I boil them until they float AND the dough cooks well, never picking them out in the middle.

    The ready dish is served with clear soup it boiled in, or plain, adding sour cream or butter. To kill the elaborate taste of the three meats, many people also spread black pepper over the plate. Very often, pelmeni are seasoned with vinegar (just imagine, you pick one, bite off a bit of dough, and carefully drop some drops of vinegar inside, using a small spoon. Delicious!).

    One more virtue of pelmeni is that it has a season-long shelf life, - in the freezer, of course. In Siberia they just made them in thousands and stored the sacks in the frost, picking some to boil from time to time. Freezing does not affect the taste at all.

    As for SCA cooking, this dish cannot be treated as period for European Russia, but for personas of the north-eastern frontier of the XV-XVI centuries, that were first treated with pelmeni by the Perms right at that time. Non-Russian personas are more free to cook them, as well as southern Siberian personas, if we accept the idea of borrowing the dish from China.




    News and Resources

    Stefania Krakowska (Stephanie Roenicke, 481 N Sola Ave, Blythe CA 92225, stefcia67@aol.com) will be studying intensive Latin at the International Institute for Culture in Lancaster PA next Summer (June through August 9, 2003) and is exploring the possibility of adding a trip to Pennsic after her schooling is done. However, in order to do so, she will need some help and wonders if SIG members could help. "Can anyone from SIG host me? I can maybe bring a few garb ensembles, but I don't think I can manage an entire encampment. I am thinking that I may only be able to spend a weekend or a few days...I am a local herald, so I can help at Herald's Point, if that will open a few doors." Please contact her if you you or someone you know could help.







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