Winter AS XLII (2008)
Volume XIII, Issue 2 (#48)

 

Greetings from SLUM!

 

From the Nachalnik

This issue of Slovo is devoted to reviewing our first attempt to hold a SIG-themed event, which could never have happened without the generous services of Zygmunt, Istvan, and the people of Three Walls and Andelcrag. I'll start off with my own thoughts about the Slavic University of the Midrealm (SLUM).

It was an amazingly beautiful site. Only mildly modern, this hunting lodge in the midst of the snow-covered woods was a beautiful site. It was, unfortunately for me, also quite cold and drafty. And, despite a generous loan of a warm cloak from Master Mordak (I had been unable to bring my own because of space limitations in my carry-ons), utterly freezing cold for me all day, so I alternated between attending classes and warming by the fire.

I think that the local SCA folks from Three Walls and Andelcrag who did most of the grunt work (from tending the fires to manning the porter to handling the lunch) were absolutely fantastic. They probably did not have much of a familiarity (or even an interest) in Slavic stuff at the beginning but warmed to it as the day went by. I heard some rumors of conversions and many expressions of interest.

Most of all, I was struck by the enthusiasm of those who attended and most particularly those who taught (Mordak and Sofya did a great job with their garb class and I enjoyed the Kievan Daily Life class, Russian Icons, and the Slavic Military Orders classes that I sat in on).

 


Autocrat's Notes

By Zygmunt Nadratowski

Although the day was cold (started out at 28F), the spirits of our participants were high, and not to be dissuaded by the outer temperature.

49 people attended the event (from five different kingdoms), and 13 classes were held. The “smash hits” of the day were the Russian Naming Practices class, and both the Russian Garb classes, since they had at least 15-20 people in them. However, every single class had people in attendance, with eager and earnest pupils.

The potluck feast had 20-30 entrees, and featured Pieroshkies, a Hungarian Pork & Beans dish, a Pottage recipe from Medieval food & drink in Poland , and several yummy loaves of bread, especially black bread. The feast was also accompanied by a professional storyteller, who shared two different Slavic themed (IIRC) tales.

Finally, although I did not attend, I heard that the post-revel at the Inn was a raging success.

All of the class notes, and quite a few photos, may be found off this website - http://www.plcommonwealth.org/slavunotes.htm.

I would highly encourage someone to try their hand at running an event of this type; as far as events go, this one is very straightforward and easy to arrange. I have run events that have one main type of activity (as this one did), to those that are multi-day camping events that have literally every kind of activity on tap that the Society has to offer. Having such a wide variety of event stewarding experience, I can tell you that Slavic University was very easy to do, and would be a very good event to run for someone who wants to run their very first event.

Without going to far into the finer points of event management (which is a book of its own), I'd like to address what you need to run this kind of event:

First, is someone willing to do it. You need to have some organizational ability. You don't need to be the next George Marshal, but you do need to be able to focus on those things that will help your event become a reality.

The next thing needed is a place to hold it. I picked the picturesque Palmer Lodge, since it has the feel of a medieval hunting lodge, and few mundanities in sight. Since it was in the territory of another group, I had to secure the blessing of the hosting Barony, since it was they who would provide the deposit required by the site.

The rest of your staffing needs are minimal, if you want to keep things simple: for a one day event, if I am autocrat, I want to have a someone to sit troll and collect money (preferably the group's exchequer, since there is an exchequer form that must be completed after the event), and someone to coordinate classes. The same people can hold multiple jobs, cutting down on your staffing needs. At most, for this type of event, you'll want a co-autocrat, troll staff, feast co-coordinator, class planner, web page designer and someone to make event tokens.

I wanted to keep things as simple as possible; this way, I would ease the burden on my ADD-plagued brain. My original vision for Slavic U was very simple, and put the emphasis on what I deemed the most critical part – the classes. I also organized it in this fashion to play to my strengths, which is building coalitions of enthusiastic people and planning events. Small minutiae I am not good at, so I picked people I could trust to handle those details.

I also wanted a memorable site, which is why I picked the place I did, but no feast (everyone would simply bring their own food), and no event tokens (I figured the class notes would be enough). I would put together the class schedule, make the web page and organize the notes. This way, I kept staffing needs to a minimum, which was especially needed since I was running the event outside my area and didn't have a built-in home group to call upon for all the amenities to which we SCAdians have become accustomed to at a ‘normal' event. So, by my original plan, I needed only myself, someone to sit troll, and people to show up and have fun. Armed with this plan, I went to talk with the potential host group, the Barony of Andelcrag.

Because the site I wanted for Slavic U was not in the area of my local group (see below), I had to have a partner in the area of the site as my co-autocrat and liaison with the local Seneschal, both to satisfy the rules the SCA has about such things, and to alleviate any potential problems that would arise due to distance, since the site was about 80 miles from my house. Thankfully, my good friend Istvan Valkai was both a member of the Barony and a SIG member, and was very good at planning events as well.

Since there had been a lot of interest across the Knowne World, I looked into making Slavic U a Knowne World event. There are some small but crucial differences between a regular event and a KW event (the rules are at http://www.sca.org/ docs/kweventpolicy.pdf). The gist of the process is that a KW event must have a bid submitted to it, which includes a number of items of information that must be included, such as distances to airports, hospitals, etc. Once that is assembled, it goes before the BOD for approval. Once (if) the approval is given, one huge benefit is that the event is given free advertisement in each Kingdom's newsletter. I found out about the process to make Slavic U a KW event too late in the planning to get it before the BOD. So what I did was to incorporate as much of the wanted info into Slavic U anyway – I found out all the distances to major airports, and links to the airports and online maps, and linked to as many kingdom calendars as I could. Istvan did yeoman's work in setting up the hotel rooms and arranging blocks of rooms at special block rates.

Overall, the event went off without a hitch. There were a few small glitches, and one major screw up on my part. The glitches were that, since big fireplaces at either end heated the lodge, a ‘fire troll' needed to be arranged (someone to watch and stock the needed heat!). I had not originally foreseen this, but thankfully Istvan brought it to my attention and made sure the position was filled.

Once word of the event spread through the host barony, all kinds of people cam forward with neat ideas and wanted to be part of the fun. One gentle made our event tokens by hand-burning each individual piece of leather with “Slavic U' and the year in A.S., in Cyrillic. Another group came forward and volunteered to run lunch tavern (in case you have never been part of something like this, a lunch tavern is a great way to raise funds for your group).

I arranged for a pot-luck feast; this way, we would have an evening meal and not need any extra staff. I knew it would work since I knew that the site could physically hold all the various crock pots and plates, but what I did not know, and did not learn until nearly the last minute, was that electrical outlets were very few. Istvan & I solved that problem by contacting a few people to bring any extra power strips we had available. If I were to organize the feast again, I'd also assign dishes to people, based on the first letter of their name (e.g., A-H brings a dinner dish, I – P bread & beverage, Q – S a vegetable, T - Z dessert).

My big screw up (in my eyes) is that I got so focused on planning the event, I totally forgot about the Pale event deadline! Thankfully, Istvan had that covered as well.

At a bare minimum, another Slavic U would be an easy event to pull off, and I highly encourage you to give it a try in your neck of the woods. It's not as hard as it seems.

We had a lot more things happen than I planned at this event – Lunch tavern, event tokens, etc – and that is because of all the work put in by the fine folks of the Barony of Andelcrag. I have received a lot of kudos for this event, but I have re-directed them to all of the people of this Barony. I have mentioned my co-autocrat Istvan a lot, but I want to make absolutely clear that the event would not have happened without Andelcrag's unified help. We literally had people helping from every Canton in the Barony. The event nearly ran itself after a certain point, since I had so many enthusiastic helpers. The truth of the matter is that I did very little – I provided the vision to get it started and organized it where needed, but the Barony of Andelcrag did all the work. In fact, not only did they come up with new ideas that kept making the event more and more enjoyable (which all the participants noted), every time a new idea was brought up to be implemented, the person making the suggestion also volunteered to make it happen!

So, I hope that this summary has inspired you to have a vision to make a Slavic University a reality wherever you live, so that these unique, vibrant and still so unknown cultures can be shared in your kingdom.

 


From the Co-Autocrat

By Istvan Valkai

As co-autocrat of Slavic U, I have been following the discussion with great interest. First and foremost I think Slavic U should be a yearly event. Possibly schedule them in 2 year blocks for planning. But it is so much more than a meeting held at 2 wars. And the more exposure Slavic peoples have in the SCA the better.


I would suggest having it rotated among the Kingdoms. Most of us are limited by time and financial constraints from traveling great distances. With rotation eventually one will be held where you can attend. Also as many local non-Slavic personas will attend we share our culture with a wider audience within the SCA and may “convert” some. We have 3 people seriously considering changing to a Slavic persona. Class notes if at all possible should be available to all. Even if we can't be there the information will be a welcome addition to our shared knowledge.


Event costs must be considered as we rely on a local group to sponsor the event. A 2- or 3-day event would be great but if the costs (site rental, etc.) are high the local group may, if attendance for whatever reason is too low to cover, take a financial beating.


Also staff is a consideration. Only 3 members of our staff have Slavic personas. We had volunteers from all Cantons in our Barony. An example lunch tavern, sausage was made by a person from one Canton, cooked by one from a second and served by members from a third. Only one staffer was from the Canton where the event was physically held. Something to consider when bidding to host Slavic U.


Just a few thoughts off the top of my head. I personally would like to see this become a yearly event. It is possible and really not all that hard to do.

 


SLUMming It

By Sofya la Rus

After months of anticipation, on Friday morning my husband, Sifrid, and I started the nine-hour drive to the Canton of Three Walls in the Barony of Andelcrag in the Midrealm (i.e. Ionia, Michigan near Grand Rapids). We hit the Chicago area around 5pm, but miraculously, the traffic was not a problem. I made the trip go faster by hemming Sifrid's new kaftan and making a hat to go with it.

Bertha Brock Park was a short drive from our hotel the next morning. After we drove past three (!) prisons, we found the park in a wide river valley. The park was beautiful with narrow roads wandering through the woods bringing us to Palmer Lodge, apparently a former hunting lodge. It appeared to be built completely of logs, with a huge stone fireplace at each end.

The only problem with the Lodge was the lack of heat. Apparently, the local group that uses the Lodge usually gets in the day before an event to start heating up the lodge, but this time the wood wasn't delivered in time. Most of us, being both SCAdian and Slavic, had all the woolen cloaks, coats and furs to stay comfortable, but Paul Wickenden had flown in directly from a business trip to Seattle and had left his cloak home because of lack of packing room and a fear that his cloak pin would cause trouble with Airport Security. After he gave his morning class on Russian names, he was so engrossed in conversation that he didn't notice he was periodically shivering. (We eventually got him a loaner cloak and made him sit by the fire.)

The lunch Inn had the usual cheeses and breads plus Polish sausage soup and a very yummy strudel. Supper was potluck and accompanied by a professional story-teller who shared a couple of Slavic folk tales. Inspired by her, Paul and I shared the Tale of Olga's Revenge with the people at our table.

The post-revel was very small, but Sifrid and I chatted very happily with the hostesses until midnight, when we suddenly realized how late it was. Amazing how one can find kindred spirits in foreign lands.

We used Sifrid's cell card to keep tabs on the weather on the trip home on Sunday. Fortunately, the storm stayed mostly south of our route. We ran into a little drizzle by Chicago and by the Quad cities. And the windshield iced up once when we were north of Cedar Rapids, but otherwise the roads stayed in pretty good shape.

It was a great trip. The best part was getting to see people we've only known through email. I hope we can go again someday.

 


Gorlatnaya Shapka: Adventures in the Big Furry Russian Hat

By Mordak Timofeivich Rostovskogo

The gorlatnaya shapka , has a murky past at best but as you can see above, was a style in transition in the 16 th century to the tall thin version of the 17 th Century, as seen below. Though cylindrical throughout and wider at the top than the bottom, the height varied, as did the fur depicted. According to Rabinovich, gorlat (from the word gorlo ) means neck, a clear reference in this esteemed historian's viewpoint to the use of sable neck fur for these tall, furry hats. This would entail a much shorter nape length of the fur, such as seen below, versus the obviously longer fur nape seen in the period drawings. Shapka is a generic term in Russian for a fur hat, so in Russian gorlatnaya shapka could mean either fur hat of neck fur or furry neck fur hat.

What if gorlat in its use as “neck” in Russian is used not to mean the fur on a specific part of a fur pelt, but as a descriptive term for appearance? Neck of fur? As you can see from the six figures above, left to right, figures 1, 3, 5 are wearing an earlier version of the infamous 17 th century hat, only shorter in height, with longer fur and wider than the later version. All three figures are those of Russian ambassadorial personnel, the first two in Krakow, Poland in 1605 and the last as a secondary description from a German in Vecellio's portfolio. A much better source of a first hand eyewitness account comes from Jost Amman of the Nuremburg School in depicting a Russian ambassadorial entourage in 1576 for Emperor Maximillian II.

Once again, the attributes mentioned previously are displayed. The second figure from the left, obviously a high ambassador from the rich patterned fabric of his caftans, in stark contrast to the monochrome fabric of figures 7-17. Could it be that this term is descriptive of physical appearance instead of material construction???

Of much more importance is the variety of fashions in which shapka are worn in the picture above. From the left, figures 7, 8, 11, 13 and 14 are wearing their shapka rolled upwards to various degrees. This suggests that the origin of the gorlatnaya shapka formalized and stiffened over time into a rigid, widening cone in the 17th century that modern viewers are familiar with. In this context, the rolled up cone of fur would indeed suggest a “neck of fur” with the wearers head at the end, which may well have started off as derisive humor but over time gained acceptance and prestige as a fashion? It's a speculative theory but many fashions throughout recorded history have started this way, including the Boairin stave which is five feet long in relation to a 5'9” man, the very same length still utilized as a brush beater for hawkers up to modern times!

 

Construction

I am a man of average build and hat size, at a height of 69 inches. That means I need an 11 inch tall hat. When I was considering making my second gorlatnaya shapka (the first was for an 18 inch tall nutcracker) my main concern was door lentils knocking my hat off over and over. My second concern was weight. My third concern was heat when wearing it. My last concern was construction materials.

As such, my Mk I version shapka was stiffened with 5 oz. leather, and lined in cotton, which turned out to be too heavy, resulting in a headache after an hour. My Mk II version shapka was craft felt, two layers quilted together and stiffened with steel boning staves, normally utilized in corsetry. Once again, too heavy. My Mk III version shapka removed the boning and replaced it with wooden shish kabob skewers from Walmart. Perfect. Lightweight, flexible, able to stay on my head for hours in comfort and best of all, when I bowed. In the summer I used a folded washcloth under a baggy of cooler ice on my head within. But that got tedious.

Enter the Mk IV version gorlatnaya shapka , solar powered fan and triangle shaped 3-4 layers craft felt placed every 2 inches, point up, around the inside brim! That way cool air can blow across my ears, face and neck. The solar panel from Sundance Solar http://sundancesolarcorp.com/smalsolpanfo.html sits on the top, which is decorated fabric usually, though in this case will be either a metallic net or appliqué cutouts, either on a net top or with the net in the cutout, both of which would facilitate airflow! One third of the way down from the top (hat 11” high/ fan 7” up from bottom) I will suspend the fan motor between 4 springs to stabilize it while running. The brighter the day, the harder it runs! Though my first gorlatnaya shapka has served me well for 9 years, the fur is a close nape mink. My solar powered Mk IV version will be long napped silver fox fur, though it appears more brown than silver or black! Opulence can be practical and comfortable!

 


Polish Recipes

By Zygmunt Nadratowski

 

Raspberry Krupnik (Polish)

The etymology of this item is weird. Another dish in many of the cookbooks is Barley & Mushroom soup, but is also called Krupnik. Yet other cookbooks list this vodka drink by that same name. So, I don't understand what the difference is, yet. Anyway, this is a very tasty treat. This is not a period recipe; however, both things existed in-period, so it is plausible.

 

Ingredients

Have the berries thawed and ready to go.

 

Materials

A funnel, a small-hole strainer (2 different sized ones works best), cheesecloth, a sealable gallon container with a large mouth, a large soup pot and a couple large spoons.

 

Directions

•  Combine 1.5 cups of honey (2 cups if berries are not pre-sweetened) with half as much water in the large soup pot and stir until mixed well.

•  Heat over medium/high heat until it begins to bubble, then cut back to a simmer. You'll have it right when lots of little bubbles are coming to the surface.

•  Cook the honey/water mixture until it is golden brown. All we're looking to do here is caramelize the honey a bit. It may not look right after a while, so don't cook it more than 40 minutes. Some foam may come to the top - you can scoop it off into another bowl or the sink with the large spoon. I leave some in because I think it tastes better.

•  While this is simmering, open the raspberry bags and make sure there is a lot of juice. If not, smash them in a mixing bowl until they have some juice (say, a nominal 1/2 cup). Put all of the berries and their juice into the gallon container, using a spoon if needed.

•  After the honey is done simmering, take it off the heat, away from ANY open flames, and add the vodka. Stir well.

•  Add the honey/vodka mixture to the berries. Close the lid tight, give it a couple shakes, and let it sit on the counter a couple days so that the berries infuse the krupnik . NOTE - the Poles intended this to be drunk with dinner, so you could make this at breakfast and drink it for dinner. I think it tastes best if you let it sit 2 – 3 days.

•  Strain the mixture, first through the strainers and then through the cheesecloth, making sure to get all the berries and seeds out. It may be a little murky from the foam - I think that's ok! Or strain it until clear if you like.

•  After straining, put the krupnik back into the empty vodka bottle (I soak the labels off first, whatever you like). You'll have some left over, which is what the other empty bottle is for. After bottling, I let it sit 1-2 days, since I think it tastes better, but you don't have to.

Chill and enjoy! 

 

Piernik (Honey bread - Polish)

This tasty treat is often served at Christmas and Easter.

 

Ingredients

 

Directions

•  Preheat over to 350°F.

•  Cream the butter in a large mixing bowl by beating until soft and smooth. Add egg yolks one at a time and beat well.

•  Add honey and mix well.

•  In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and mix well.

•  In a medium bowl, whip egg whites until stiff, then fold into batter mixture.

•  Pour batter into bread loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour. The top of the cake should be firm, and a dark golden brown. Insert a toothpick into the center to test doneness – when it comes out clean, it is done. You may need to reduce heat 10-25 degrees to complete this last step, based on your oven and how it cooks. Mine cooks too fast, so I have to raise the oven rack and bake at a lower temperature to avoid burning the loaf.

•  When done, remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve in slices.

If you serve this at the Holidays, sift powdered sugar over the top of the cake through an appropriately themed stencil, to make a festive pattern.

 


Book Reviews

This unusual book combines Russian medieval history with upper-level grammar instruction for foreigners. Produced explicitly for foreign students of Russian, essays focused entirely on medieval Moscow are accompanied by glossaries translating difficult words into English. Each of the 22 lessons begins with a topic essay (for example, “Why is Moscow named Moscow?) of a page or two, and is then followed by a series of exercises. These exercises focus on reinforcing grammatical concepts that a student would have learned in their first two years of university-level Russian instruction. There is a fair mixture of verb conjugation, case declension, and other standard philological exercises that will be familiar with anyone who has taken advanced-language study.

What makes this advanced language reader unusual, of course, is its subject matter. The texts are written by modern Russian historians and largely tertiary material (no assignments to read the Domostroi in its original!) but are fun diversions from the drudgery that you normally are stuck with in third- or fourth-year study. The second lesson (“Life and Traditions of the People of Moscow in the 15 th and 16 th Centuries – Russian Dress”) covers customs and clothing in three short pages. You won't learn anything new about garb from this essay (which is largely derivative), but it is one of the more interesting ways to practice the prepositional case.

More than anything, I have to wonder why someone would decide to create a medievalist-themed grammar book. Maybe to inspire SIG members to learn Russian?

– Paul Wickenden of Thanet

 


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, Slovo does not bear any intentional resemblance to anything that the SCA officially endorses.

The original authors retain the rights to their works. Please contact them directly for permission to reprint. Uncredited material is the property of the publisher.

The publisher and editor is Paul Wickenden of Thanet (Paul Goldschmidt), 5625 Highland Way, Middleton WI 53562, 608-827-6891, e-mail: goldschp@tds.net. There is no subscription fee and copies of this quarterly newsletter are available free of charge from the editor. Slovo is also available on-line at the Interest Group web site (http://slavic.freeservers.com).