January 25, 2018

Fashion for the Forum; The Toga, The Stola, and the Palla

"It [the toga] is not a garment, but a burden."
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, Early Christian Author and Apologist (c. 155–c. 220 C.E.)

Image 1.  Roman Clad in the Toga

Any well-dressed and respectable citizen living in the height of the Roman Republic would not have been seen outside of his or her home without the iconic overclothing of the Roman world.  Men wore a toga while women wore the stola (and in cases of higher ranking women—the palla as well) and these items of clothing were not only socially important to dress in but, at times and by decree from those in power, required wear for civic duties and public festivals.  These garments were as important as putting on pants before leaving the house in today’s modern age and mentality. 

The toga and the stola are outerwear—tunicas were worn underneath these articles of clothing except in the early period of the Roman Republic when both men and women wore just the toga.  The toga, the stola, and the palla, were garments of upper class citizens, with the lower class—such as workers and servants—simply wearing the tunica.  Not everybody wore the toga and, especially in the later Republican and Early Imperial era, the toga was not worn all the time (Cavazzi, 2008).

There has been plenty of speculation on the toga and the stola as most documentation comes from statuary, funerary reliefs, paintings on walls, and even ivory carvings (Vout, 1996).  As we do not have an actual toga or stola to study all of our examinations must be made by looking at the representations of the garment and thoughtful extrapolation.

Understanding the iconic clothing of the Roman Empire is as important as recreating it.  When we understand more about the toga, the stola, and the palla, we can make informed decisions on how to make them and, especially, how to wear them correctly. Luckily for us there has been plenty of research on the topic of Roman outerwear ranging from theatrical to museum-quality research that we can explore to help better our understanding of these garments that were “…worthy of the masters of the world”.

February 8, 2017

Why You Should Write For Your Newsletter and How To Do It

Writing for your local newsletter may seem like a daunting task. Many people find the thought of writing for an audience akin to speaking in front of a group of people or cuddling up with a spider in their bed. In reality, writing an article is a very easy thing to do and not as scary as you might think. Knowing the basics of writing and why your Chronicler is always looking for submissions can help alleviate some of the fear you might experience while sitting down with pen and paper trying to formulate an idea.

November 8, 2016

The Depiction of Bears in History: The Beast Revealed in Art and Artifacts of the SCA Timeframe


Bears have been known throughout history as the devourer of man, the scourge of the wilds, and other titles noted for their apex predatory nature of mankind.  These animals were often revered by early societies, and later on through the SCA time period, continued to represent strength and power.

Throughout the years bears have been portrayed as protectors, as adversaries, as holy companions, and even as soldiers.  From the provocative to the whimsical, the bear is always with us in many art forms preserved in museums throughout the world.  The below is a collection of images of these creatures throughout the time frame of the Society for Creative Anachronism; from the fall of the Roman Empire to the death of Queen Elizabeth I.

It is important to note that this post will update from time to time as more images of bears are found.

The 4th Century (301-400)

A bronze Balsamarium, or a vessel used for holding balsm, from the Roman or Byzantine era, circa 4th Century A.D.  Private collection--image and description found from Sotheby's Art Auction (December 2007).

October 6, 2016

The White Stag Honored

The Stag, honored today upon the field,
in white he strode with blood red shield.
For honor's stand against many sword
Pressed from all, a mighty horde.

For each one wished to lay the claim
The Great Stag's life and their own fame,
but deftly turning blades and blows,
fought with honor for the Princess of Snows.

The sun burned bright, the fight went on,
for each fighter present the Stag sang his song,
of swinging blades and virtuous deeds,
the sound of which brought many to knees.

When all of a sudden the Stag was alone,
And each warrior realized honor his own;
for each win or loss upon the great field
their valor and honor as bright as his shield.

And that's the Stag's lesson, hard to tame:
We fight for the ladies and not base fame.
For to face the Stag in victory or defeat
is honor gained and the Stag he does meet.

Halfdan Ozurrson, July 2013

I wrote the above poem a few hours before I was elevated as a Bard of Oertha.  The poem honors Prince Kenric who played the part of the White Stag in the tournament at Selviergard's Ten Year Celebration.  The poem expounds on the idealized reasoning behind the fighting, and utilizing the tale of the White Stag, attempts to show that it is for honor and for the ladies we fight for and not for the act of winning.

July 31, 2016

The Art of Writing an Event Report

Having an event report—a written and published account of what happened at an event—is helpful in many ways.  An event report preserves history for future generations, tells a story of great deeds that happened, encourages participation to future events, and at the least, is a filler for your local newsletter or website.  Sometimes these reports are written out, sometimes they aren’t.  Writing out an event report is something easily accomplished with a little know-how and some effort.

Crafting a good event report is telling a story; your story.  With some determination, some skill, and some ideas anybody can write a report of a past event down on paper and get it published.  Writing an event report is easy to do once you have an idea on what you should write down and present to the rest of the populace.

July 10, 2016

Capturing the Moment: Photography at SCA Events


I find it exciting to capture photos of my friends enjoying an event in the Society for Creative Anachronism.   Events are where we have court, participate in tournaments, and experience the fun of the Current Middle Ages together.   I like to record these things not only for my own memories but for other people’s memories as well.  I enjoy sharing these “moments of time” with others that they will cherish; and it is well worth the effort of lugging my camera around to an event.  From my experiences my local group is accustomed to having their photos taken and are positive with it because I worked hard on creating a repertoire with them-- creating a positive atmosphere for photographers in my group.  Event photography is as easy as bringing along your camera and taking pictures, right?  Is it that simple?

This type of culture was, I thought, quite common; who doesn’t enjoy having their picture taken?  It turned out not quite true.  While following several groups on social media I noticed a disturbing trend—photographers in other groups were facing opposition when they tried to take photos at events, often being chastised for it. This made me wonder what is going on because I am welcomed by my local group to take pictures.  What was difference?

April 1, 2016

Baronial Historians Warn The Past Is Expanding At Alarming Rate

Halfdan’s Crossing, Selviergard—Painting a stark portrait of a phenomenon that appears to be irreversible, a report published Tuesday by the Selviergard Historical Association has found that the past is currently expanding at an alarming rate.

The comprehensive 950-page study including 32 pages of bibliography and at least seventeen appendixes, compiled by a group of the Barony’s most prominent historians supervised by a panel of three Research Laurels, warns that the sum total of past time grows progressively larger each day, making it unlikely that anything can be done to halt, or even slow down, the relentless trend.