Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Impresa for the tourney shield

My impresa came together pretty quickly. I knew I wanted something very clearly rooted in the emblem books, rather silly, and totally appropriate to my current "tournament." I also wanted to very clearly follow Paolo Giovio's "Rules" for making an impresa from his 1559 Dialogo dell'imprese as listed by Ursula George after Alan Young's Translation in The English Tournament Impresa.

" There should be a proper proportion between soul and body [motto and picture].
The impresa should be neither so obscure that the Sibyl must interpret it, nor so obvious that every plebeian can understand it.
It should have a beautiful appearance, making use of stars, the sun, the moon, fire, water, green trees, mechanical instruments, strange animals, and fantastic birds.
It should contain no human form.
It should have a motto, which is the soul of the body, and should be expressed in a language other than the native language of the bearer, so that the meaning may be more obscure.
The motto should be brief, but not so much that it creates uncertainty. Two or three words may be enough, unless they are in the form of verse. "

I also wanted something that fit Praksedys' persona (the personality, not the Russian place and time) so I could possibly use it at a future point in the SCA. Between my tendency to create quantity and embrace color and Praksedys' love of pearls and over the top decoration, I settled on the concept of positive excess. Throwing a few wording options into translation software in a variety of languages and picking the one with the best ring to it gave me "Magis est Melius," the Latin for More is Better.

I had already been gifted with the idea for the perfect symbol by my friend Dame Kadrina Tanskalainen after she took my impresa class and was then forced to brainstorm about this on the way home since she had been my travel buddy to Collegium. A cornucopia seemed rather perfect. How perfect I didn't quite realize until I dug a little.

Abondanza, Abundance/Plenty, with her cornucopia is the very first emblem in Cesare Ripa's Iconologia, an emblem book first published in 1593. The symbol is as Classical as they come, often attached to a variety of Roman Ggoddesses or Dionysus on occasion. One of the original myths has it being created from a horn ripped by Zeus accidentally from his nannygoat wetnurse Amalthea. To make it up to her, he insured that it will always be full of the best foods for her.

There is a double cornucopia in the emblem for Fortune in Alciato's Book of Emblem's as well. It turns up constantly in decorative art and allegory. It has a solid pedigree for use in imprese all around.

So, I have a 3 word motto in Latin with a mythological symbol full of nature. Check, check, and check. If I draw it without the goddess we're clear on the no human figure (the rule is often ignored, but I was trying to be a good kid and follow it.) Balance is subjective, but it seems pretty reasonably matched, and because of the circumstance, the motto seemed pretty clear. Add a couple more checks and I think the rules are fulfilled. I should probably write a poem or compose a song just to be thorough, but visually the impresa is complete.

I'll get a scan of my drawing tomorrow. Hopefully, the shield will be done drying by then and I can start prepping it for paint.

In other news, I have finished the swatch for my knitted stockings so I can calculate the pattern. I also think I've settled on a camicia style. I'm going to put off the black pointed project until later. I want to do this dress next, and that camicia will be nice for that project I think.

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