Now we’re doing a short break in the cavalcade of viking food! Because a couple of months back I got a request from the principality chronicler to do a piece in the newsletter about finding sources for information about feastgear. Which of course, I couldn’t turn down. Since it get published only in Swedish, this weekend, I did a piece in English as well to put here on the blog. You guys also get a few extra links to check out for more information and inspiration!
Like many of things in our hobby, feastgear is a practical detail. You need something to eat from and drink out of, multiple times a day and most of the time these are objects we need to bring ourselves. But we need a spoon for that morning porridge!
When you find a favorite period, sometimes you want to dive deeply into it and get some feastgear to compliment your lovely garb. Then you, in the same way you look for ideas for garb, want to find sources that’ll point you in the right direction to find the correct look. Depending on which period and area you want to recreate, you will have to look for different sources. If you going to do iron age/Viking the sources are mostly archaeological finds but few images. With the later periods, 14th-16th century, the finds are supplemented with many images in the art. Portraiture really experiences a renaissance in the late middle ages and they’re a fantastic source for those of us wanting to know how glassware and plates looked during “our” period. Many of the group portraits were done as a meal or banquet-scene, and quite a few portraits set in home environments can show beautiful details in the backgrounds. Maybe it was a sign of wealth to show that you could eat and drink from the best. The later in our SCA period, the more detail we can see in the images. The portraits with home environments seem to be especially common during the 15th century.
So, how do we find these sources? It can take a bit of digging, depending on how many sources there are from the time and area you want to research. Helpfully, many museums have digitalized their collections and there is a lot to get from them. The Swedish History Museum has many finds from the Viking age in their online catalogue and the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in the Netherlands has many (42 000) pieces online, a lot of beautiful pottery from the 15th and 16th century. For example you can search for “jug” and the timeframe 1450-1600 and get hundreds of examples to look at. Some other museums and websites I can recommend are:
A lot of my inspiration and knowledge comes from countless hours spent searching for stuff on Pinterest, a website or app where you “pin” pictures to different “boards”. There, you can find and save a big variety of paintings, broken pottery and museum artefacts from the whole world and from all times! But, you have to take a critical approach to it. A bunch of times, I’ve learned that the dating of paintings hasn’t been correct. But you will learn more after a while and then you will start to see your period more clearly. Sometimes you’ll have to click around a bit to find a reliable dating. But try to search for things like “16th century pottery” or maybe “15th century glass” and see what turns up. Sometimes you get surprised to see the number of sources. Just the other day, I found some new pictures of roman forks that I’d never seen before! You can find my Feastgear folder here.
Another source to acknowledge is the amazing craftspeople that make replicas today and other historically inspired pieces we can buy and use. Many of them have spent a huge amount of time researching and they’re great sources of knowledge. If you find a good potter or smith who shares their sources and gives useful background information on their pieces you can either follow that track to learn more or just trust that they know what they’re doing! A few potters, for example, refer to the Siegburg pottery as source for their work. Then you can easily go down that road and google “Siegburg pottery” to find more information about period, the different finds and shapes. So the next time you find a potter that makes nice pottery, but doesn’t give as much information, you can recognize the shapes and know if it’s a look you want to go for or not, depending on your focus period.
So the next time you search online for portraits to find a new cool outfit, take a look at the rest of the painting and think about what kind of other objects you can see around the person. Maybe they’re holding a glass? Then you have a great starting point when looking for new feastgear!
If you have any questions or want more examples of online museum catalogues or anything else, please feel free to contact me. Either on my Facebook page or through email; gele.pechplumin(a)outlook.com. Looking at feastgear and sources for the same is great fun for me.