Words Everywhere – Books & Scrolls
I’ve been telling myself I need to do an update here for about the last 10 days, but I’ve just been procrastinating all along. Finally, here it is…
Scroll Blank #12 is my second submission to the A&S blank challenge. I think I like this one better just as a pen & ink drawing, though the finished piece turned out all right. I’m not entirely happy with the finished coloring, and the contrast on the scan is a bit harsh so the lights are lighter and the darks are darker than they appear in reality.
This design is a combination of elements from two pages of a Hebrew manuscript from the British Library, Additional 15282, from the 14th century. The book is a Pentateuch – the first five books of the Torah.
I took the top part of the design from the opening page of Genesis, and I love the very Gothic style of this design! It’s so architectural. The bottom “columns” come from an illumination at the beginning of the book of Deuteronomy.
There are some other pages and designs from this same book that would be fun to play with some time as well. Not only some other full illuminations, but some pages where, in addition to the main text, there is decoration in the form of micrography – tiny writing that creates a design or pattern around the margins.
Scroll Blank #13 was done as an award scroll for last week’s Terpsichore at the Tower event in Cynnabar. Their Majesties attended and there was a short court list and I couldn’t resist doing an award for our friends in the Barony. The Barony was awarded a Purple Fretty for its service to the kingdom. This is the group equivalent of the Purple Fret award for service.
Part of Cynnabar’s heraldry is an elephant with a tower, so I started looking at medieval bestiary manuscripts for period images of elephants. Most medieval animal images are not what we considered accurate today, so it’s ok for them to look a little unrealistic. I found a number of elephant images, many of which had towers of various kinds on their backs. There was one I thought of using that had a great big war tower with heraldic shields hanging from it, but I ended up deciding that it was a little too ambitious for the time I had available.
Ultimately I used two images, both from the National Library of France. One comes from a 13th century bestiary entry on elephants and the other is an illuminated initial from a 9th century copy of the work of the Roman author Cassiodorus. History tells us that the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne was gifted an elephant by the caliph of Baghdad, so it seems possible that this early artist may have actually seen an elephant in Europe!
I’m pretty pleased with the way the final piece turned out. I turned the tower into more of a Cynnabar-like tower on the back of the elephant, and the pearl in the original piece I made the Purple Fretty for the award. I also used the border design from an illumination of an elephant and dragon from the Aberdeen Bestiary, thougth I changed the colors to red, black, and white for Cynnabar. I also did a little whitework background behind the elephant, just to give the piece a little more detail instead of the blank background in the original, and added a heraldic display of Cynnabar’s colors on the elephant’s back.
I like the text I used here as well – I borrowed some themes from the actual bestiary entries about the characteristics of the elephant to work into the wording. Usually I’m not that creative!
Now, the books!
I just finished the latest C. J. Box novel, Force of Nature. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Box writes in a way that draws me in and lets me see and feel the places he describes. Of course it helps that I’ve been to places very similar to the settings he uses. Once again we enter the world of Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett and his friend and sometime fugitive from the law Nate Romanowski. This book focuses more on Nate and his past as he flees for his life from a rogue special forces group that he walked away from years before. Joe is something of a peripheral figure in this story, though he does play a pivotal role at the end.
Before that was Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham, a Brit mystery set in Wales and revolving around the career of DC Fiona Griffiths, newly entered into the police force, Cambridge-educated, daughter of a father with a slightly shady past, and sufferer of Cotard’s Syndrome, a psychological disorder in which the victim feels that he or she is dead. WE follow Fi as she makes her way through the case of a murdered mother and daughter, tying together the strings of several disparate cases that ultimately result in a major bust at the end. While this is a mystery novel on the surface, it’s also a study of Fiona’s attempts to integrate herself into “normal” society despite her personal and mental difficulties. A good read, and I’ll probably go back for more if there’s a follow-up.
Last but not least a new (to me) author writing about life above the Arctic Circle on Canada’s Ellesmere Island. M.J. McGrath’s White Heat introduces us to Edie Kiglatuk, a half-white/half-Inuit woman making her living as a part-time teacher and part-time hunting guide. The book opens with the murder of one of a pair of hunters Edie is guiding, leads to the death of her beloved stepson, and ends with Edie fighting her own personal demons of alcohol and the relationships within the tiny community she inhabits. Life is hard above the Arctic Circle, and we get a clear sense of the daily struggle to survive and the history of exploration and continuing exploitation of the region and the people.