This photo isn’t great, as the flash has lots of glare off the gold. This was the highest baronial award in Lonely Tower, called the Keystone, for Sorcha inghean ui Mhaolain

The style is Irish Monastic Style – specifically modeled after manuscripts created in European Monasteries that were founded by Irish missionaries. There are a number created or used at St. Gallen online, which was the starting point for my research pinterest board.

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St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 27, p. 21 – Psalterium Gallicanum with commentary http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/csg/0027/21

One specific aspect I utilized is gold or colored filling around the text of important words, without any outside defining line which you can see in this example.

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St. Gallen, Kantonsbibliothek, Vadianische Sammlung, VadSlg Ms. 292, f. 151v – Psalter, Hymnary, Prologi Psalterii http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/vad/0292/151v

This is similar to the B I used in the scroll. I can’t at this point find specific models for most of the decorated letters – I may have been adapting elements of larger designs for smaller letters. The execution is much less precise – I’ve often said I don’t really draw, I’m just a good copycat.

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St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 20, p. 21 – Psalterium Gallicanum with Cantica http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/csg/0020/21

I find the St. Gallen manuscripts still have a lot of interlace, but the shapes are not strictly geometric, they have a more rounded and floral or organic look. And the birds! Lots of birds, but more varied, and closer to reality.

The biggest authenticity problem with Sorcha’s scroll is that there is too much decoration on it. Too much color, and too much illumination compared to the quantity of text. If you wander through the various manuscripts linked on my pinterest page, (Each is a link to a separate multi-page manuscript), you will see many pages with no decoration, or just one big decorative element. Many of the manuscripts have the decoration in simple outline, not colored in. Very rarely do you have several largish decorations on the same page – but when it happens, they are balanced out by the mass weight of the text. My font is also not as carefully matched to the originals as I usually do. This is a case where my procrastination came back and bit me.

In the SCA we get used to decorative styles that “frame” the work, and the St. Gallen manuscripts really don’t include that. Even the lack of borders around the gold and colors that highlight the important text seems off to our modern, medievaloid eye. But to have only used the level of color and decoration used at St. Gallen would have seemed like not enough for the gravity of the award. I was trying for a style to match her persona, and NOT use the big ones, like Kells or Lindesfarne. Our concept of what is proper has been warped by the few justly named masterpieces that are seen over and over. There are more manuscripts created at St. Gallen than I linked on my Pinterest board, but they are even plainer. We have to decide if we are going to match the rarest and highest level of work, or the valued but much more typical decoration level. It is a question each scribe needs to face, every time we begin a project.

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