DIY Perfume Oil (Roses, Lavender, and Jasmine, Oh My!)

Fleur-de-Gigi:

A recipe from my mundane blog on easy perfume oils :)

Originally posted on Fleurty Naturelle's Blog:

Perfume oils are one of the oldest beauty products known to woman.

Perfume Oils Perfume Oils (Photo credit: KateWares)

 According to Levey, the world’s first recorded chemist is considered to be a woman named Tapputi, a perfume maker who was mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. She distilled flowers, oil, and calamus with other aromatics then filtered and put them back in the still several times. The Persian chemist Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna) introduced the process of extracting oils from flowers by means of distillation, the procedure most commonly used today. He first experimented with the rose. Until his discovery, liquid perfumes were mixtures of oil and crushed herbs or petals, which made a strong blend. Rose water was more delicate, and immediately became popular. The art of perfumery was known in western Europe ever since 1221, evidenced by monks’ recipes of Santa Maria delle Vigne or Santa Maria Novella of…

View original 303 more words

Candlemas Heraldic & Historical Apothecary Class Materials

Ciao ragazzi!

I am teaching two classes this weekend. The first is on the toilette of Caterina Sforza …

s1600Young_Woman_Receives_Gifts_From_Venus_and_the_Three_Graces%2C_Botticelli.jpg 1600×1067 píxeles

 

… and the second is on historical heraldic achievements and how we can display them in the SCA.

achievement 2014 no bkgd

 

Click on the links above to view the PDF of the class handout.

Laila Akhyaliyya – Female Voice Of Antiquity

“HE WAS HONEY—NO, I SEE A BEEHIVE HIS LIKENESS.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

by Dorothy Disse

Laila Akhyaliyya, a member of a noble family of the ‘Uqail (in what is now Iraq), lived in the later 600s, and knew two of the Umayyad caliphs whose dynasty led the Islamic world from 661 to 750. She may have been married to a man named Sawwar, but many of her poems are laments for Tauba ibn Humayyar (d.674), a fellow poet and perhaps her lover, who apparently died an outlaw. Tradition describes her as often wittily holding her own in debate with Umayyad authorities who criticized her for her defense of Tauba.

Laila’s diwan (poetry collection), like that of Khansa earlier in the century, was preserved by Islamic scholars who studied seventh century Arabic literature in order to understand the language of the Qur’an. Some of Laila’s poems praise the gift-giving caliphs (normally done only by professional male poets), others are parts of exchanges of invective with other poets. However, much of her poetry continues to perform the traditional woman poet’s role in the pre- and early-Islamic society: to record the life and deeds of her tribe and to mourn the dead.

On this page you’ll find:

Links to helpful sites online.

Excerts from translations in print.

Information about secondary sources.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ONLINE

1. Translated poems:

(a) In a 2004 biography of Laila, by Ma’n Abul Husn, passages from three poems, translated by Arthur Wormhoudt: “O eye, weep tears continually flowing”; “O, bravo the man you were, Tawba;” and “We are those that came early at dawn.”
(b) “At Tauba’s death I swore,” translated by Willis Barnstone; it is followed by several excerpts from Wormhoudt, including one not given above, “The curve of grouse watering in a flock.”

2. For historical background:

(a) The Wikipedia entry on Laila’s tribe, the Banu ‘Amir (you can link to a brief entry on Laila).
(b) Wikipedia entries on the two caliphs whom Laila knew and praised in her poetry: Marwan ibn al-Hakam (623-685), and Abdul Malik Bin Marwan (646-705).
(b) A 2003 essay by Jonathan A.C. Brown, “The Social Context of Pre-Islamic Poetry: Poetic Imagery and Social Reality in the Mu c allaqat,” which, although its chief focus is on a group of seven long poems written by men from c.550-c.630, describes the world in which Laila lived.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

IN PRINT

[Arthur Wormhoudt has translated Laila’s diwan (along with that of a male poet). He presents 44 of her poems (including some fragments). Wormhoudt speaks briefly of Laila in his foreword; the notes are of limited help. This is not a book to be found in all libraries, but you can get it via interlibrary loan:]

Diwan Antara ibn Shaddad ibn Qurad al Abs. Diwan Laila Akhyaliyya / translated by Arthur Wormhoudt (An Arab translation series). [Oskaloosa, Iowa]: William Penn College, 1974. (128 p.)
LC#: PJ7696.A53 A27 1974

——————————————–
“We left no joy for the stragglers.”
——————————————–

[Laila praises the fierceness of her tribe. The words are Wormhoudt’s; some line-breaks are changed and punctuation added:]

We are those that came early at dawn
attacking steadily on Nukhail’s day.
We destroyed the Malik al Jahjaha
forever; we stirred mourners for him.
We left no joy for the stragglers,
neither camps nor dripping blood.
We are Banu Khuwailid without compare;
the battle does not lie nor trifle.        [p.108]

———————————————————————————————-
“They press to belly and breast the wings and hover a little at a favorite pool.”
———————————————————————————————-

[She describes the creatures of her world — here, adult grouse and their young:]

The curve of grouse watering in a flock
They near the pool water in all haste….

They stay intoxicated at the springs as if
Drinkers dependent on Persian lords
They took a little drink and hurried to
Take it away between Shibak and Tandib
The night in a desert and morning as guests.

There at brood places in a hungry flock
They press to belly and breast the wings
And hover a little at a favorite pool
Then they slow the beating of wings to end
At their sides shoulder to shoulder.

So they hear their sounds and hungry cries
And give them back from that as echo
They bend to the naked heads as if they
Are boy’s balls made of rabbit’s skin
When the dark leaves them they give them
a drink of the pool nearby never empty.

The name of harshness is theirs and chicks
Make an uproar that is not understood….       [ll.13, 15-23; p.105]

—————————————————————————-
“…from the pure grammar and the rhymes like spearheads….”
—————————————————————————-

[Many of Laila’s poems mourn the death of her lover:]

O eye, weep tears continually flowing,
weep for Tauba in hidden fear;
for a man of Banu Sa’id that I suffer for.

What was it that took him to a stony grave,
from the pure grammar and the rhymes
like spearheads and a thing not shared?        [ll.1-3, p.123]

——————————————————–
“He reached the heights of things with ease.”
——————————————————–

[Laila searches for images to praise Tauba:]

He reached the heights of things with ease
when they tired every bounteous noble.

He was honey—no, I see a beehive his likeness,
with the liquor of reddest Baisan wine.       [p.108]

———————————————————————
“Things perfectly done deny for you the blame of men.”
———————————————————————

[But Tauba had died as an outlaw, not as a respected tribal leader, so Laila’s poems must defend him as well as praise him; the last lines show the union of Islamic with pre-Islamic thought:]

O, bravo the man you were, Tauba,
when the high points met and the low one were raised.
Bravo the man you were, O Tauba,
not being surpassed on a day you were attempting it.
O bravo the man you were, Tauba, as the fearful
came to you for defense, bravo the bravery.

Bravo the man, O Tauba, as neighbor and friend.
Bravo the man, O Tauba, as you excelled.

By my life, you are a man whose loss I weep
as ancestors, though gossips complain of him.
By my life, you are a man whose loss I mourn
increasing my waking for him no end.
By my life, you are a man whose loss I mourn
when great things multiply for the dying.

Things perfectly done deny for you the blame of men,
O Tauba, each time you are recalled.
Bounty for widows’ shelter deny for you the blame of men,
O Tauba, every time you are recalled.

Had Allah not removed you, O Tauba,
yet you had met death’s dart, and death is swift.
Had Allah not removed you, O Tauba,
yet on you would a dark morning cloud shower.       [p.118]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[This anthology has three of Laila’s poems (one a part of a longer work), translated by Willis Barnstone. (See the book’s table of contents online.):]

A Book of women poets from antiquity to now / edited by Aliki Barnstone & Willis Barnstone. Rev. ed. New York: Schocken Books, c1992. (xxiv, 822 p.)
LC#: PN6109.9 .B6 1992;   ISBN: 0805209972
Includes indexes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SECONDARY SOURCES

[This collection includes Dana Sajdi’s essay, “Revisiting Layla Al-Akhyaliyya’s Trespass,” which translates and discusses a 36-verse ode (qasida) in which Laila uses a traditionally male form in such a way as to present female voices and a woman’s view. Sajdi also looks at how Laila was viewed by contemporaries and later Arab scholars. (For Wormhoudt’s translation of part of the qasida, see above, “The curve of grouse watering in a flock.”). Another essay, Marle Hammond’s “Qasida, Marthiya, and Differance,” includes Hammond’s translation (with the Arabic original) of a 45-line elegy for Tawba, followed by a comparison of each section of Laila’s poem with two others written by women. (See the book’s table of contents online.):]

Transforming loss into beauty: essays on Arabic literature and culture in honor of Magda Al-Nowaihi / edited by Marle Hammond, Dana Sajdi. Cairo: New York: American University In Cairo Press, c2008. (xxvi, 404 p.: port.)
LC#: PJ7503 .T62 2008; ISBN: 9789774161025
Includes bibliographical references
[Sajdi’s essay in the above collection is an enlargement of an earlier article, “Trespassing the Male Domain: The Qasidah of Layla Al-Akhyaliyyah,” which unlike the 2008 essay, gives the poem’s Arabic text in an appendix: Journal of Arabic Literature, 31 (2000), 121-143; LC#: PJ7501 .J63;  ISSN: 0085-2376 (See online the issue’s table of contents.)]
————————-

[Although she does not deal specifically with Laila in her study, Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych’s chapter “The Obligations and Poetics of Gender: Women’s Elegy and Blood Vengeance” discusses the purpose of women’s elegy in pre- and early Islamic poetry:]

Stetkevych, Suzanne Pinckney. The mute immortals speak: pre-Islamic poetry and the poetics of ritual (Myth and poetics). Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993. (xvi, 334 p.)
LC#: PJ7542.Q3 S75 1993;   ISBN: 0801427649
“Appendix of Arabic texts”–P. 287-317. Includes bibliographical references (p. 319-327) and index.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Updated by Dorothy Disse 09-02-12

Italian Renaissance Apothecary Jar – The Alberello

I was looking at a few of the alberelli (plural) online because I happened to meet a few artisans interested in making some for the historical apothecary. I wanted to show you all a few images of extant pieces and then think about the common threads between them all. My heraldic colors are red and gold, but I don’t see many extant alberelli in those colors. Blues, yellows, and a little orange, maybe, but not red. So, I’ve accepted that perhaps I would modify my own heraldic charges to similar colors :)
I started by perusing the Metropolitan Museum of Art Online. They have 43 alberelli listed that are dated from 1400-1600. You can see them all here http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search?&what=Albarelli&ft=*&when=A.D.+1400-1600&pg=1
Lorie Bolduc of Whitehart Designs has made a lovely plate with a nice Renaissance fleur and posted the photo of it on her facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203416824353541&set=a.1544360361184.2069689.1000234356&type=1&theater
lorie bolduc plate maiolica
I found a piece from the Renaissance period with a similar fleur:
quantara alberello with fleur
This one (below) is at the Met and is 12 inches tall (likely 6 inches in diameter at the widest point). http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/460265
Alberello Met SF-1975-1-992
This one from Christies (on the far left) is 17″ tall. It is blue and white with bit of yellow. http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/a-tuscan-maiolica-blue-and-white-16th-4848176-details.aspx?intObjectID=4848176
Now I’m on a roll. This group is lovely! Although completely out of my price range.  http://www.sothebys.com/es/auctions/ecatalogue/2012/important-old-master-paintings-n08825/lot.281.lotnum.html
For my own reenactment purposes, it would be nice to have a couple that are 12″ high and 6″ wide… and a couple that are more handy, like 8″ tall and 4″ wide.
Have you ever commissioned pottery or ceramics for your persona kit/ living history efforts?

Medieval & Renaissance Herbals

I am writing an herbal for my apothecary. Below I’ve posted the research I’ve done so far from An Illustrated History of Herbals, Healing from the Medieval Garden, and Illustrative Traditions of Medieval Herbals. Enjoy :)

What is an Herbal?

An herbal is a book that describes plants (Anderson). They typically describe plants that have medicinal properties, how to identify them, how to extract their useful properties, how to apply those extractions to treat disorders and diseases (Anderson). An herbal is a book of simples (Collins). A simple is a medicine composed of one herb or plant (Collins). In an herbal there are typically chapters with the names of plants, their illustrations, their characteristics, their medicinal properties, and recipes for medicines made from them (Collins). Herbals provide insight into medical and botanical practices of history, but also material on the philology, the social history, and the folklore of those who came before us (Anderson).

LaBellaDonna Create Perfume

Pedianos Disocorides was from Cilicia and lived during the time of Nero (50-68 AD). He wrote in Greek, and his treatise, De Materia medica (On medical material), covered 600 plants, 35 animal products, and 90 minerals. His body of work is classified between five books: I – aromatic oils, salves, trees, and shrubs; II – animals, animal products, cereals, pot herbs, and sharp herbs; III – roots, juices, herbs, and seeds; IV – roots and herbs; V – wines and minerals (Collins). This herbal laid the foundation for all subsequent herbal literature and was considered the supreme authority on medicine for over 1,500 years (Anderson). Other herbals, such as the Hortus sanitatis and the Herbarius latinus, cited this work frequently (Anderson). The oldest known manuscript of the Materia medica is at the Austrian National Library of Vienna and dates from 512 AD (Anderson).

romancosmetics203

Pliny’s Naturalis historia (Natural History) contains data from over 2,000 historical manuscripts. Pliny used over 400 authors, listing over 33,000 items, and included over 33,000 facts and myths that give us insight into the Roman world view (Anderson). The work is contained in 37 books and was written before his death in August 79 AD when he succumbed to the eruption of Vesuvius.

According to scholars the only certain thing about The Herbal of Apuleius, known also as Herbarius, is that Apuleius was not the author (Anderson). Lucius Apuleius was the author of The Golden Ass, he was a native of Madurensis near ancient Carthage, and he was a student of Plato’s philosophy. Herbarius manuscripts do contain some native North African plants and also contain the mythological figures of Chiron the Centaur, Achilles, and Peleus, three personages misunderstood as Apluleis, Plato, and a centaur. The work was compiled around 400 AD and drew heavily on Pliny and Dioscorides. This herbal went on to inspire other herbals, where the author would substitute local plants that resembled those in the herbal and deleting those foreign to him (Anderson).

After Herbarius the next notable herbal the presented any competition was the 11th century De viribus herbarum (On the power of herbs) of Macer Floridus (Anderson). The author is likely a man named Odo, called Macer of the Flowers. This herbal is in Latin verses and describes the medicinal properties of 77 plants (Anderson). Most of the material contained in De viribus herbarum comes from Pliny. Other classical writers such as Galen, Disocorides, and Hippocrates are also represented, differing only in the use of verse instead of ordinary prose. This made the volume popular with doctors who could more easily remember the metrical lines (Anderson).

Hildegarde of Bingen is the first woman author of an herbal that discusses the medicinal properties of plants and trees. Hildegarde was born near Mainz in 1099, the daughter of a knight (Anderson).

What are the notable herbals of antiquity?

Emperor Shen Nung Pen T’sao Ching (2700 BC, Anderson)

Papyrus Ebers (1550 BC, Anderson)

Pedianos Dioscorides De Materia Medica (Greek/Arabic tradition, 1st century per Collins, printed in 1478 Venice per Anderson)

Apuleius Platonicus Herbarius (Latin tradition, 2nd – 4th century, Collins)

Paolo di Nicea Manuale Medico (ed. Anna Maria Ieraci Bio, 8th century, Dendle)

St. Gall Botanicus (9th century, Dendle)

De Viribus Herbarum of Macer Floridus (11th century)

Physica of Hildegarde of Bingen (12th century)

Tacuinum Sanitatis (Lomardy, 14th century, Collins)

Caius Plinius Secundus (Pliny) Historia naturalis (printed in 1469 Venice, Anderson)

 

My Vigil and Elevation, in 1500 words or less.

Fleur-de-Gigi:

A description of her beautiful ceremony, Latin oath, and apothecary goodies :)

Originally posted on The Stillroom Book:

So, at Kris Kinder in the Kingdom of Calontir, I sat vigil during the day in preparation for evening court and my elevation to the Order of the Laurel.  In true me fashion, I was working on some stuff until late Friday evening, but I had gotten everything done in time to be abed before Midnight.

My parents made the trip up to see the event, which was neat.  It was my father’s first event and my mother’s third-ish (she had previously been to a local revel of the Barony in the city they live in when I was younger, and to an event where I did feast, where she worked in the kitchen all day).  They had a really good time, and did some Christmas shopping while they were at it.

My vigil began around 9:45.  The room decorations where handled by my Laurel, Baroness Fionnuala, with help from…

View original 1,301 more words

Persona Development – Advice from the interwebs…

Perhaps a group of friends … could make a deliberate effort to come to events in persona, support each other in their roles, and gradually ease the people around them into doing the same. … Perhaps at some mass event such as the Pennsic War a group of true believers could fence in a patch of enchanted ground for their encampment and let it be known that whoever came inside was undertaking to join them while he remained.” – TI No. 63, Summer 1982

One of the attractions some of us find in the Society is the opportunity to imagine, for at least a few hours, that we are actually medieval people in a medieval world. One problem with doing so is that many other people are playing a different and inconsistent game. It is hard to be a medieval person while answering questions about the sources for my clothes or my food, or even while the people next to me are conducting such a conversation. – From Cariadocs’ Miscellany http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/cariadoc/miscellany.html

 

English Officers of Arms, 1511

English Officers of Arms, 1511

 

Duke Cariadoc of the Bow is a triple peer and the founder of the enchanted ground at Pennsic. He has inspired countless Gentles to pursue a more persona-oriented approach to attending an event. In this class we attempt to carry on his ideology by discussing persona play, tips and techniques, and having experienced Lords and Ladies give us insight into what has worked for them. For this post I use a lot of information from Duke Cariadoc as well as from this wonderful Signora http://www.forest.gen.nz/Medieval/articles/Persona%20development/personad.htm

 

20140527-170922.jpg

Part I – Tips and Techniques for Persona Play

What is your level of comfort?

A. I have to have a persona, so I will pick and name and clothing style. Case closed.
B. I love research. I want to pick a time/place and find out as much as I can about the period.
C. I want to role-play for the entirety of every event.

Depending on which you choose, or a combination thereof, remember that this is a hobby for most. Have fun!! This game shouldn’t be cause for undue stress by persona police.

To get beyond A, if you so choose, the steps are comparatively easy: Go to the library, read books. Look at the bibliographies, find those books. Read more. And so on.

For C, expect to shed sweat and tears. It is difficult to act without a script for a novice. Take baby steps. Use the background information you have on your persona’s place in time. Try to act and react as your persona would based on their skills and knowledge of the world.

Be consistent. Think about the daily situations in which your persona would find themselves. How do they wake up? How do they wash and dress? Do they wash at all? When do they eat their first meal? What would it be? How do they greet others? How do they react to insults? How do they enjoy themselves? You may have to make this up BASED ON WHAT YOU KNOW. As long as you have some basis for your invention, it will work, and is fine until/unless you gain knowledge that your approach needs to change.

Now the elephant in the room. There is a contradiction between playing a persona, a person in some historical setting, and being a citizen of a barony in Gleann Abhann with a political system and culture that only slightly resembles a slew of medieval systems.

How does a 15th century Italian noble deal with being inducted into the Order of the ___? Sitting next to a 14th century Welsh bowman at feast? Or dancing to Hole in the Wall after dinner? How do you deal with this? Again – each person will have to choose how they personally reconcile this anomaly.

Ideas? One way may be to treat the Known World as a strange far away land that you are visiting or have moved to for some period of time. Here, unlike “home” there are 13 Kingdoms and once on the throne the Royals usually don’t live very long. Which is no wonder when one considers how they love to fight.

Another idea is that this is all a dream. A recurring dream of a place that is different than your persona’s reality of living in 14th C Bruges. That both places exist, but only one is really real. Remember physics? Well, whichever you choose just remember “long ago IS far away” (space and time are aspects of the same thing).

 

giata-holding-heraldic-standard

 

Part II – Creating and Sustaining a Persona

Start by discovering a general historical overview of the period you desire to “be from”. Books will become your best friends. Your local library, second-hand bookshops, long-term SCA members’ personal libraries, and online reference websites (university libraries, museum information, etc.). Be careful with the internet – which can be your friend, but like some dodgy friends can tell you consistent, bold-face lies.

Where to start:

1. General historical overview of your chosen time and place (history textbooks are awesome!).
2. General costume information for the same (also SCA member websites on garb).
3. A book or website that deals with the nuances of life in your age (politics, maps, trade, etc. because wanting to be a weaver in a town devoted to the fruit industry is perhaps a far flung wish).
4. Find examples of how people actually spoke (plays, letters, treatises, etc.), and pepper your speech with these words and phrases.
5. Befriend a herald. Seriously. (Identity is often closely tied to names and arms, to properly christen yourself can be difficult without specialized books which the herald would have at their disposal. Usually your herald can help you understand more about your place and time, and your place in it.)

Things you’d know:

• Where did you come from? Where do you live now?
• Who are your relatives?
• Who is your ruler? How many rulers have you known in your lifetime? Are you a peaceful nation? Who are your enemies?
• What would you wear on casual Friday at home? How about to an extravagant feast at a noble estate?
• What is your name? (Naming conventions have well-defined rules and trends. You should endeavor to call yourself something that a person of your place and time would have called themselves)
• What did you eat at meals? What pastimes would you enjoy?
• How do you write letters? Address others? Swear?
• What Court scandals may you enjoy recounting?

Things you can do to ‘create and sustain’ the persona illusion:

• Choose garb to match a period illumination or painting. Take a photo. Have it enlarged and put on Canvas. Display it prominently at events.
• Carelessly toss off comments learned from your research on “how people spoke”. For example, in much of our period in England nobles addressed each other as “cousin”. Since we are all nobility – use it.
• Parasite unashamedly on the better-informed. (i.e., ply your favorite peer with chocolate, wine, or other goody…flatter them and reap the benefits of an impromptu –and free– lecture!)
• Develop a list of the top ten facts about your period that are useful to you. Keep it on a card handy for reference at events until the knowledge becomes second hand. (incl. ruler, current wars, state of Church, popular authors, cookbooks and dishes of particular appeal to you, popular oaths or exclamations, gossip about your ruler’s sex life, the major fashion faux pas’)

 

Meeting-of-the-Betrothed-Couple-Carpaccio

 

Part III – Persona Introductions and Conversation

Stand up and introduce yourselves as your personae. Tell us about you, without stepping outside persona. As a hint, just as you would not walk up to a new acquaintance IRL and say, “I’m a 21st Century American”, your introduction should be something other than “I’m an tenth century Cumbrian farmer”.

ATTENZIONE: Within these bounds the twenty-first Century does not exist. You are welcome to join us.
We only ask that you restrict your conversation to topics suitable to your persona.

 

Part IV – Panel Discussion (Q&A)

• How did these illustrious panel members get their start in “persona play”?
• What do they wish they had done differently to start?
• Best resources and lessons?
• How many persona iterations have they gone through?
• Do’s and Don’ts?
• Biggest mistakes made (may have been serious at the time…which we can laugh at now )

 

Part V – Lagniappe

Persona Game: Well, I never! – Identify another SCA member from a country or religion in conflict with your own. Make rude comments about them, insult them, get into philosophical arguments with them, or refuse to sit near them at feast because of their insanitary national habits. Do all of the above with freezing dignity and unfailing courtesy, to demonstrate the superior manners of your own culture.
**Remember, this endeavor can be as complex or simple as YOU like. Above all, it should be FUN.
Persona References on the WWW:
http://www.dragonslaire.org/Newcomers%20Nook/persona_points.htm – for persona tips
http://www.florilegium.org/ – for hand kissing etiquette 
http://www.modaruniversity.org/Timeline.htm – timeline of who is when for persona research
Questions for Persona Development:
• What age are you? When were you born? What year is it? When does the day start? When is the new year?
• How do you describe what year it is? What date it is?
• Where do you live? What does it look like? Describe your locality (village, shire, barony, etc). Describe your home.
• Describe your family. How closely connected are you? Have you got family obligations, alliances?
• Were you parents married when you were born? If so, by what rite? If not, what consequences does this have for you? Are your parents still living? Other family members? What contact do you have with them?
• Are you married? When were you married? Why? Have you got children? How many?
• What clothes do you own? How many? Who made them? What material are they? Where did you get the fashion from? What do the peasants wear? The lords? The king?
• Who is your lord/overlord/baron/etc? Which country do you live in? Is it stable? What alliances does your country have? Enemies? Who is king? What is your relationship with him?
• What language(s) do you speak? Your neighbors? Your lord/ruler?
• Do you have military obligations, directly or indirectly? To whom? What kind?
• Can you read/write? Who taught you? Why? What do you read?
• What were you trained for? How good are you at the things you can do? Did you end up doing whatever it was you were expected to do? Have you travelled? Where? Why? When? With whom?
• What is your religion? That of your neighbors? Is this the mainstream religion? What happens to people who don’t share yours/the mainstream religion? How do you worship? Who/where is your ecclesiastical focal point?
• How do you sustain yourself? What do you eat? What do you/your neighbors grow? What is the main economy of your area? How do you get money?
• Do you own land? How much? How do you count land?
• What is your status? Is it related to land? Can it change, through marriage, purchase, service? In what way?
• What coinage do you use? How do you count the currency?
• What do you do during the day? What is your favorite pastime? Entertainment?
• Who wrote your law? How is it enforced? Who do you talk to if you have a complaint against your neighbor? Who has ultimate jurisdiction? Is your family involved? What happens to an outlaw? What kind of punishment would a thief get? A murderer? A rapist? An adulterer?
• If you were to fall ill, who would you call to see to you? What sort of treatment might you receive? Who would look after you? What might be wrong with you?
• If you died, who would get your possessions? If your parents die, who would get their possessions?
• What threats do you face? What do you fear?
• What are your prospects, hopes, plans? What can you hope for? What can you expect?

 

Schifanoia-Francesco_del_Cossa_1450s-Trionfo di Venere

 

Persona Development Quiz: Or “Why can’t you answer questions that the village idiot would know the answers to?” This quiz is based on an article by Cariadoc of the Bow that was reprinted in “A Miscellany”. Its basic premise was that most SCAdians can answer questions about their family tree (seven generations back!) but can’t tell you the time of day. The purpose of the quiz was to raise consciousness about your persona. The more you know about the day-to-day details of your daily life, the easier staying in persona becomes.

Now, take the test (no guessing and only historically-documentable answers allowed) and then stop at the library on the way home and get to know yourself. (Submitted by Lady Shoshonnah Jehanne Ferch Emrys.

1. How do you tell time? When does the day start- (dawn, midnight, etc…)
2. Who is your overlord? His title, name of estate/castle and your duties to him?
_ Who is your ultimate overlord? Is he/she popular with the class you are a member of?
3. Where do you live? Name the country or province you live in.
_ How far is it to the capital city? (miles or unit of measure your persona would have used)
_ Have you been there?
4. What did you have for breakfast today? Are there any religious restrictions on your diet?
5. What are the spices you use (consistent with your pocketbook)? Are they imported?
6. What is the basic unity of money?
_ How much does a loaf of bread cost?
_ If you own one, how much does a riding horse cost?
_ How much did your home cost?
7. How do you support your lifestyle?
_ Do you work at a trade? Do you belong to a guild? What is your rank (does your work merit this rank?) Should you belong to a guild (i.e.- would have been required to be a guild member to practice what you do?)?
_ For gentry, where does your money come from? Monopolies on certain trade? Which ones and how did your family obtain?
8. Can you read or write?
_ More than one language? Which ones? Why did you learn them?
_ How did you learn? (taught at home, church school, etc…)
9. What is your favorite drink?
_ Is it imported? Can your persona afford it in the quantities you drink at an event? How much does the drink cost vs. your income?
10. What wars have there been in your lifetime where you have lived?
_ How did they affect you (i.e.- lost your land, starved for a while, et..)?
_ Did your country win or lose them? How did this affect your family?
11. What diseases have you had?
_ What was the method of treatment?
_ How many of your brothers or sisters died in infancy?
12. What “mythical” creatures do you believe in?
13. Do you have servants?
_ How much are they paid? If not money, what did they earn?
_ What are their duties?
_ What are the arrangements with them- do they live in, are they serfs, etc…
14. What would you be doing on an average day? Assume that your country is at peace and you are at home. If you are military man, describe what you would be doing at your garrison or military “base”?
15. How many generations of your family would your persona really have been aware of? Most 20th century people can’t get back farther than three generations.
16. Are there laws regarding what you should wear? What are they? Were they commonly followed? Would have been allowed to bribe your way around the laws?