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Re: [medievalsawdust] Re: What is period?

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  • Tim Bray
    ... I think you ve disproven the assumption behind this one yourself in another post: average stature wasn t that much different from moderns. But the more
    Message 1 of 49 , Mar 1, 2004
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      Continuing the interesting debate with Three-Fingers:

        The concept I was floating out was that... furniture is scaled... and, for me to EXPERIENCE the same relationship to my furniture as my medieval counterpart... I would need to scale it to a more modern average stature.

      I think you've disproven the assumption behind this one yourself in another post: average stature wasn't that much different from moderns.  But the more interesting point here is the relationships to furniture.  I think we need to examine exactly what the medievals' relationship to their furniture was, and how it was different (If indeed it was) from our modern relationships.  What did furniture _mean_ to people in the MA?  Was this different from today?  

        How much 'stuff' a chest would hold is relational to the size of the owner. 

      I dispute this assertion.  Give me any reason why this should be so.

      The capacity of a chest is related to its intended function, which has nothing to do with the size of its owner.  The difference in volume required to hold, say, 10 shirts for a man 5-6" tall vs. a man 5'-10" tall is negligible.

      Now I'm scratching my head...  they made them higher because they used footstools???  Or did they make them higher because they wanted to be imposing and such modification REQUIRED a footstool??? 

      Yes!  ;-)  Form follows function.  In these cases, the function is to set the sitter above other men - the physical appearance reinforces the social statement.  Chairs, for most of the MA (say, before the mid-15th c.) had a different meaning than they do today.

      On the vast majority, the seat still comes basically to the back of the knee.  That footstool you mentioned, in effect, raised the floor... 

      Yes, no argument there.  My point is that the proportions of the chair you design, based on scaling, may be different than the actual proportions of the original piece - because you are neglecting to account for the footstool, your  chair legs will be shorter, so your chair will look more "squat." 

      I run into this problem when designing thrones.  Take a loot at my so-called "12th c" chair, which is based on a chair from Tyldal, Norway.  The chair looks too squat and bottom-heavy, because the legs are too short.  The only way to fix that would be to make it narrower, which would make it uncomfortable to sit in.

      Actually... there are a fair number of backed chairs depending on time period...

      Not many before the mid-15th c, which is pretty close to the end of the MA.  They really are more of a Renaissance thing.

        but you're right... people don't 'slump' in them...  bad form. But there are illuminations that show people at ease... and they do slouch.

      Hmmm... show me some from the MA. 

        Chairs had a certain position in society... and that position didn't involve slouching.  When you were in a chair you were in an authority position...

      Bingo!  My point exactly!  The chair had a different meaning then than today.

      An interesting thing about all those viking beds... they were found in various sizes...   pro speculation... designed to fit their owners.

      Another speculation: at least some of them were purpose-built, meaning they were designed to accommodate dead guys.  Puts things in a different light, eh?

      Also as I mentioned before, people actually seem to have laid down differently in the medieval period: they were propped up with bolsters, much as we do today to read in bed.  So the beds could be shorter and still be comfortable.

        Personally, I think that furniture WAS proportioned to the owner... If you consider that they weren't mass producing (as a rule) but rather building to order why would they NOT build to order???

      What I am saying is that the dimensions of the owner are only one aspect of the "order," and maybe not even the most important.  Building to order involves consideration of the whole context of the completed piece, and I doubt that aspect was much different then - possibly even more important.

      Today's furniture is NOT proportioned to its owner... its proportioned to a general average.

      True, and your point about the essential difference between todays mass-market economics and the more direct medieval system is well taken.

       When you spend your life making nothing but unique pieces... the pieces cease to be unique and the process rather then the product becomes the standardized element.

      I don't quite follow you here.

      The basic point that I was making though was that I suspect there are more involved in furniture design than simply "What are they doing in Italy this year"...  the proportionality of the size to the user is simply one of the considerations.  The purpose it was being put to another...

      Aha, we are complete agreement then!  Damn, now we have to find something else to argue about.

      So...  my question would be, "If medieval furniture was NOT proportioned to its owner... then what was the foundation for size, scale and design?"

      Context.  Form followed function...  Edward I certainly wasn't so gigantic that he needed something the size of the Westminster Throne to be comfortable!   Even in the 16th c this applies; or do you think the Great Bed of Ware was made for someone 8 feet tall?

      At the other end of the scale, a milkman/stonecarver/taylor isn't trying to impress anyone with his three-legged stool, he just needs something at the right height for the work he's doing.  That height is based as much on the work as on the size of the man.  Tom has already pointed this out to me in the discussion on benches.


      Albion Works
      Furniture and Accessories
      For the Medievalist!
    • Dragano Abbruciati
      Wow! The original of that conversation string goes WAY back. *counts on fingers* Eight months or so!!!!! Dragano rmhowe wrote: ...
      Message 49 of 49 , Oct 13, 2004
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        Wow!  The original of that conversation string goes WAY back.  *counts on fingers*  Eight months or so!!!!!

        rmhowe <MMagnusM@...> wrote:
        James Winkler wrote:
        > Parameters are funny things... kinda' like dogs.  Most mutts are easy
        > goin' and just wanna' be scratched and petted now and then...  Some like
        > to be rough-housed around with...  some like to sit on the front porch
        > and growl at everything that walks by.  So you'll find the range of
        > opinions and attitudes in the SCA.  Most are pretty tolerant and easy
        > going... there are some who seem to have socialization problems of one
        > sort or another and anybody can have a bad day.

        > If it folks or dogs growl... give em' room.
        > If folks or dogs wanna' play... they'll play.  If not... they won't....
        > If folks or dogs act up... smack em' with a newspaper... or a chunk of
        > rattan if they're in armor...

        I find that the simple truth is always the best defense myself.
        Sometimes there are differing ideas of what the truth is but I
        generally have found that simply repeating what comes out of
        some peoples' mouths in front of them is usually what it takes
        to rein them in when it becomes necessary under the right circumstances.

        > Bottom line... all depends on which pack of dogs ya' decide to run with
        > as to what you're SCA experience will be like...  welcome to the new
        > middle ages.

        98% of the SCA are very nice folks.
        The other two percent usually have some serious problems.
        And honestly, those we don't discourage can become really
        obnoxious at times. My personal pet peeve is the honorary
        peerage, which isn't one of the three the SCA officially
        recognizes but some of whom are determined to prove how
        much better they are than anyone else and bask in their
        personal glory. Which rattles my personal chain from time to time.
        This is a much lower % than the general population however.
        And honestly, around here at least, if they aren't sitting
        the throne they tend to be largely ignored.

        As I have grown older I have become much more specific about
        the kinds of folks I want to associate with. This generally
        excludes the social climbers, problem peers with exalted attitudes
        about how much better they and their opinions are than anyone
        else's, those who take unfair or dishonest advantage of
        kindnesses shown to them, etc.

        I suppose it's the egalitarian in me. I don't believe anyone
        is better than anyone else. However, I seriously believe that
        some people can show themselves beneath many other people.
        Depends on the attitude.

        > Woof...
        > Three Finger Charlie

        >     Thank you all for your replies.  I was just trying to get a feel for
        >     the parameters within which I would feel comfortable engaging with
        >     other SCA members.  I will be attending my first event on March 13th
        >     (The Winter's End Collegium and Competition in Huntsville, AL).
        >     Shoes and headgear be damned....let the fun begin!

        The SCA isn't anything worth sweating blood over for your first event.
        I have never heard of famous rudenesses in Meridies as I have several
        other kingdoms I won't name. But three of seventeen or so really isn't
        that bad as a whole for the SCA. I shouldn't wait six months to attend
        your first event. The SCA is however probably the most inclusive
        group you may ever join. Some may very well become your friends
        for most of your remaining life if you aren't careful.

        Ask who the Chatelaine is who controls the Golden
        Key (Garb hoard) in your area. It's their job to help you integrate
        and feel comfortable among us. It does help to tell people you are
        new and introduce yourself. The reason is there are so MANY people
        in the SCA and they are so busy with their own projects, activities
        and old friends they may very well think you have your own already
        and simply don't know you because they think you're from another area.
        This is where many newcomers think the SCA is ignoring them - but in the
        vast majority of times they are not being ignored at all - they won't
        know you are new and need help if you don't tell them. Walk up
        and introduce yourself. If your local officers have any sense they
        ask at events and meetings who's new.  Then they welcome them, or
        should. My very big barony has grown from circa 30 people 23 years
        ago in three cantons to around 500 in about to be six cantons and
        unaffiliated outlying areas. Heck, we don't know all of US.

        No one expects you to show up looking 100% for the first few years,
        or decades, in this particular reenactment group. The SCA began as
        a party and has continued in that tradition. The fact that certain
        members have improved things and research since then is laudable
        but by no means obligatory for new people. When you see folks
        depicting the pre-christian era at an event with people doing
        Elizabethan from maybe 2000 years later it gets a bit jarring.
        This leads to themed events and sometimes to alternate groups entirely.

        Regia Anglorum [ http://www.regia.org/ ]
        are probably the greatest sticklers for early medieval authenticity
        and refer to other groups as superficially similar societies or SSS.

        However - What was particularly hilarious to me, and I saw/read it
        happen at the time, was when Regia first began interaction with a number
        of SCA Laurels on the North American list and found out many of our SCA
        researchers were pretty much up to snuff, or possibly a bit ahead
        of theirs. So it goes. Right now it's pretty much mutual respect.
        Since the paid membership of the SCA is nearly 50 times larger than
        Regia's it also figures we have a larger number of serious researchers.
        They just happened to attract some of the ones interested in their
        time period right at first. Funny was what it was. Really. Then again
        the SCA has been around nearly twice as long as Regia has too.

        I'm a paid member of both groups myself.

        It's not who you are, or who you think you are, but what you learn
        and share and do with others. Everyone shares, everyone wins - with the
        simple disclaimer that there are always 'edicated idiots' out there
        who must be sifted out in their diverse opinions.  You don't want
        to be taking advice about using chemicals from someone who is not a
        chemist for example. They could advise you to harm yourself.

        Magnus, OL, SCA / Regia / Manx / Great Dark Horde

        >     Dragano

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