Friday, February 17, 2012

Musings on Me

I'm thinking about changing my persona. I'm contemplating starting another 4-6 months of working on a dress and its accessories and its got me thinking that it might be time to just embrace the Italian.

I know it rarely seems like it, but my persona is 12th Century Russian. I've only been in the SCA for about 3 years, but I created the persona about a year before that. It was sort of an accident really, brought on my my husband's wish to coordinate personas at least a little and his desire to have an early persona who was into math and science. Actually, he started out wanting to be a Norse skald. I didn't really want to wear Norse women's clothing so I went looking for something different but close. I found the Russian and became intrigued because, despite a large amount of history classes, I knew absolutely nothing about Russian early history. Then, he decided he wanted to be Persian. I told him I was staying Russian.

My earliest attempt at SCA (back in 1991 for a summer) was an Italian persona. Her name was Belcolore. I got about as far as finding the name in a Florentine charter and then I moved away from any place that had an SCA chapter. I wanted a late Italian persona this time around, but wanted to play as a family as well, and that won out.

Three years in, I've done Italian stuff for a full year of that. I'm really interested in late styles of embroidery and lace. I have a pretty deep background both academically and in practical construction of late period clothing. My undergraduate thesis was on Elizabethan sumptuary law and I sewed for the Utah Shakespearean Festival for several years. (I can't wear the Elizabethan silhouette and really don't want to.) I feel beautiful wearing Italian dresses. I'm making more progress in learning Italian than learning Russian. My husband rarely attends events. He's also got a crush on Leonardo da Vinci (and always has) and could probably be strong armed into late Italian. He certainly likes the doublet and Venetians I made him last summer.

On the other hand, there are a large number of Italians in my kingdom and being something unusual is fun. I have a couple of thousand dollars into my Russian research library of books. I love crazy Russian hats. I like pearls and over the top bling (they are time consuming to do though.) I kinda like my goofy name that no one pronounces correctly. What I like more is that everyone seems to know me as Praks.

Despite some digging, there just doesn't seem to be anything that will give me anything approaching that. The sounds just aren't Italian. Praksedys is based on the Greek name Paraskevi. It means "Prepared" or Friday. I chose it because of the associations of the Russian saint Paraskov'ia Pyanitsa with earlier Russian goddesses. I also like the meaning. Paraskevi of Rome was a 3rd century saint so the Greek name in Italy isn't unheard of, just pretty far out of the time I want. The Italian version of the name goes with the Friday association (Venerdi) and transforms the name to Venerada. Nickname versions of that and Paraskevi are Vivi, Evi, Vuada and Veta. Not that anyone ever called me the nickname version of Praksedys which is Petka. I vaguely considered just going with Paraskevi and having a Greek name in either Russia or Italy, but everyone I mentioned it to started giggling like crazy over it. "Skeevy" just isn't a great sound to the modern ear. I could certainly pick something not remotely related to the old name. I had a long running RPG character named Dianora and that would be totally appropriate. Not unusual and interesting, which is my preference, but pretty and easily pronounced.

I changed my legal name over a decade ago and don't think I was this angst ridden about it. I guess part of it is I feel like I'm giving up. Russian research is harder, especially as I don't read the language. There just isn't much to go on. Every little scrap is treasured since there were not conventional portraits and so much was flat out destroyed by invasion, followed up by centuries of different types of repression. Italian research is easy and fun, but I won't be coming up with any new theories of my own, as the field is heavily populated by some pretty brilliant and dedicated people. I'm a researcher at heart, so that is a consideration.

Having a Russian move to Italy just isn't likely. There were Italian architects going to Russia to build, but nothing really the other way. Not to mention that late period women from Moscow were pretty thoroughly repressed and I don't particularly want to be late period Russian for that reason. The clothes are wonderful, but the situation was abysmal. Lots more opportunity for artistic expression in late Italy. The famous female painters just make me smile.

I know, this isn't a big issue, but its still had me thinking and considering it for months. Yeah, I'm odd. But we already knew that, right?

1 comment:

  1. If you're putting so much thought into this (noticeable by how much you just typed), then I'd reckon you want to change your persona. Nothing wrong with that!

    You can make a second persona, or just wear Italian whenever you feel like it and still be Praks.

    I have a mid-16th cent Englishwoman persona (Jane Fox), but at Pennsic I wear romans, at Uprising I wear cotehardies, and I'm about to branch out even farther with early period and other regional dress. I say WHO CARES?! As a researcher and creator (like yourself), I want to try EVERYTHING, and hang the stuffy persona limitations.