GNEW XXXII

A glorious weekend with out household at the Great Northeastern War in Hebron, Maine.  There were wonderful classes, displays, guild meetings, marshal activities… so many things! It was beautiful, all the grace, generosity, inspiration, pageantry, and chivalry… can hardly wait to go back!  https://malagentia.eastkingdom.org/gnew/

11th Hour Gratitude Project…

Having decided to let go of all the things that I still wanted to do, but hadn’t gotten to before we headed out to the GNEW on Thursday morning, Wednesday night I decided to relax into it and do ONE more thing.

Saying thank you is so important. There are so many people who work really hard, or do things that help make our experience more rich, or they offer friendship in the moment… and it feels so good to make a connection with a token of appreciation.

It was that spirit of appreciation and thanksgiving that inspired me to move what had been my tired and cranky self, to do ONE more thing. And I’m so glad I did, because it felt really good to give them away. The learning curve is steep, though I’d done pewter casting before, I’d not yet used soapstone to cast. It was lovely and velvety to work with, and after several attempts, yielded these twinkly silver beauties.

They are inspired by 14th/15th century pilgrim badges of Saint Thomas Becket of Canterbury. I aspire to make something as beautiful as the original: https://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk/online/object/29345.html

I am still relatively new to pewter casting, and am still figuring out how deep the carving should be to allow the pewter to flow more easily into the mold, what temperatures allow the pewter to flow but not scorch, and how to position channels to allow air to escape and the mold to fill properly.  There is so much to learn!  At some point, this is something I would love to watch someone else do, or take a class to help fill understand the process more completely.

Bring on the Mud

Anticipating dewy grass, if not all out rain and mud at an upcoming event, I decided to make a pair of pattens to help protect my new turnshoes (you can read more about the shoemaking process here).

Eventually I would love to make a shaving horse and carve the pattens in a more authentic way, but the objective of this first incarnation is to use the tools I have on hand to make a pair that will do what the originals were meant to, simply protect the leather from excess exposure to water and mud.

This version were inspired by an image of 13th century pattens from an unidentified book (still hunting down that reference…), and also surveying paintings and archaeological finds.  I used two layers of poplar board, cutting out the pattern of the sole with a scroll saw, and removing as much of the excess wood from the portion of wood that would be added to build up the portions under the ball and heel of the foot.  Using gouges, I carved away the rest of the wood to make the lines smooth.

Initially, I was concerned that making an unhinged pair would make them stiff and uncomfortable, but by omitting an ankle strap, they are actually very easy to wear and use.  They feel solid and allow the step to roll from ball to toe smoothly and comfortably.  While I wouldn’t want to have to run in them, they are lovely for walking.

The Saint Thomas Guild blog has a wonderful description and images of how to produce a more authentic pair here: https://thomasguild.blogspot.com/2012/08/making-wooden-pattens.html

Not Quite a Red Carpet

I’ve wanted to paint a floor cloth for a while now, and our new tent has made it a much more necessary project!  I was first inspired by images of 14th century French floor tiles on Mark Van Veen’s site: https://markvanveen.nl/gallery/categories/medieval-floor-tiles/Aisne15/71.html

From these seeds of inspiration I decided to stencil my painted canvas cloth with the pattern of the tiles, which were originally made of orange colored clay, inlaid with buff clay to create the pattern.  Fortune was smiling on me with this one, I dug around in the basement and found both the orange and buff acrylic house paint in the basement.  These unlikely colors had been brought home from the paint store mistint bin years ago, and proved to be quite close to the tiles I was hoping to reproduce.  I would still like to add a few layers of glazing, maybe with a bit of burnt and raw umber to add some depth and tone down the orange a bit, but the cloth is completely serviceable at this point and ready to go.

So Many Loose Ends…

It has been a hive of activity around here for the last several weeks.  The count down to GNEW XXXII is almost complete, just a few days left to finish up the last few projects.  Though I didn’t make the tent, I did make tent poles, an iris leaf sun hat, two lanterns, a belt pouch, pomanders… and need to finish up a pair of pattens, the ground cloth for in front of our tent, and set of false braids.  Getting close!

Straw into Gold

The inspiration for this project was a panel from the Manesse Codex showing Kunz von Rosenheim (394R) from 1304-1340, and the genuine need for a sun hat for an upcoming event.  I learned more about the process on: https://wh1350.at/en/tutorials-en-all/late-medieval-straw-hats-and-a-reconstruction-attempt/

And how to do a seven strand plait with the help of a video clip from Edwardian Farm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyfgdG3w61o

Granted this is post period and may be different from how medieval hats were constructed, but for now it will have to do.  It was a lovely process, and I used dried iris leaves rather than straw, because that is what I had on hand.  It seems like there are so many ways to make them, though, including a hat that looks like it is woven more like a hat shaped basket.  I’m looking forward to learning more!

Warding Off Plague and Other Miasma with Pomanders

I’ve prepared the following paper to accompany an upcoming class at the GNEW XXXII, in Hebron, Maine.  Please feel free to use the following links to view handouts, or read on below.

Warding off Plague and Other Miasma – Paper

Appendix A: Warding off Plague and Other Miasma – period recipes

Appendix B: Warding off Plague and Other Miasma – Ingredients

Objective

                This paper has been prepared to accompany a class presented at the Great Northeastern University in July, 2018. The objective of this project is to:

  1. Understand more about period pomanders, their ingredients, and medieval views on health, fragrance, and spices.
  2. To use period ingredients to create our own pomander recipe.

Disclaimer

                GNE University does not advocate the adoption of any diagnostic method or course of treatment not performed by properly licensed practitioners in accordance with modern world medical standard of care. This class will present medically significant information for purely informational purposes only. The University strongly recommends that you always inform, and obtain advice from, modern world medical professionals before altering or starting any course of diagnosis or treatment based on this class.

Introduction

                My objective when I started this project was to experiment with period ingredients to make a pomander of my own. There were so many aspects of pomanders that I found appealing: the long list of exotic, esoteric, and decadent ingredients… the alchemical process of making them… their taboo nature as ward against sickness and death, especially considering the devastating scale of the Black Death… the beautiful, spherical cases that carried them… All these things helped pique my initial curiosity.

As is often the case, the deeper I dug, the more rabbit holes there were to explore. Soon I was looking at how trade relationships connected Europe to Asia and Africa… medieval thoughts about how health was maintained and how disease proliferated… details about commonly used ingredients, where they came from and what other ideas medieval Europeans had about these substances… as well as the powerful and often paradoxical fascination that many medieval Europeans had with fragrance.

Context: What was Daily Life Like?

It may not be possible to understand the significance of pomanders without an appreciation for the importance of fragrant substances to Medieval Europeans. Mortimer offers many vivid descriptions of what it would have been like to visit 14th century England, including this passage about arriving in Exeter, or any other city or large town of the time:

“Arriving in every one of these places involves an assault on all the senses. Your eyes will open wide in at the great churches, and you will be dazzled by the wealth and the stained glass they contain. Your nostrils will be invaded by the stench from the sewage-polluted watercourses and town ditches. After the natural quiet of the country road, the birdsong and the wind in the trees, your hearing must attune to the calls of travelers and town criers, the shouts of labourers and the ringing of church bells. In any town on a market day, or during a fair, you will find yourself being jostled by the crowds who come in from the country for the occasion, and who live it up rowdily in the taverns. To visit an English town in the late fourteenth century is a bewildering and extreme sensory experience.”[1]

With this description in mind, Freedman’s words can help us more fully understand the medieval mindset.

“Medieval people were impressed by wonderful smells rather than the absence of any scent at all. The infatuation with aromatic sensations may seem surprising given that a panoply of unpleasant smells was no doubt unavoidable in everyday life, odors that those living in reasonably affluent circumstances in the developed world are spared: excrement, animals, sickness, sweat, dirt, the effects of such noxious enterprises as tanneries or smelters. It is precisely because of this inevitable familiarity with awful odors that people in premodern societies were entranced with beautiful smells. They experienced a wider spectrum of olfactory sensations than we are familiar with, both good and bad. What tended to be missing was the neutral nonsmell of modernity.”[2]

How to Stay Healthy – Corruption of the Air

Explaining the source of illness and reasoning how to avoid falling sick were just as important to people then as now. Mortimer reminds us that in the 14th century “The most common cause of illness is, according to most opinions, divine judgement.”[3] He goes on to explain that this is why it was so important to people of the time to first seek a religious cure, before employing a medical one. After all, how could there be any hope of a medical cure being effective, if you weren’t in alignment with Divine will?

Other factors were also considered when explaining the origin of disease. Miasma, or miasmatic theory is a later term, but describes the commonly held idea that illness and disease are caused by bad air. This bad, pestilential air was thought to be a very dangerous influence.

Sterner shares the following:

“Master Jacme d’Agramont, a physician of Lerida in Catalonia, Spain, wrote the first known plague tract in April of 1348. Jacme believed that most maladies came from pestilential or corrupt air. His tract goes into great detail on the various qualities of air and processes by which air can become corrupt. According to Winslow (1948), “This concept [of pestilence as corrupt air] is generally basic in all of the plague tracts. It goes back to Galen’s definition of pestilence as a disease arising from corruption of the air.” The report of the Medical Faculty of the University of Paris is dated the same year. It states: “The present epidemic or pest comes directly from air corrupted in its substance.” The report recommends the use of incense and fragrance, which “hampers putrefaction of the air, and removes the stench of the air and the corruption [caused by] the stench.” Spanish-Arab physician Ibn Khatimah wrote a tract in 1349 in which he states: “[…] the immediate cause [of plague] is usually the corruption of the air, which surrounds people and which people inhale.” Khatimah states that this process of putrefaction could be recognized by its “foul vapor” […]”[4]

Corruption of the air was thought to be often caused by astrological influences. Professors from the University of Paris explain the cause of the Great Plague of 1348-9 thusly: “an important conjunction of the three higher planets in the sign of Aquarius, which, with other conjunctions and eclipses, is the cause of the pernicious corruption of the surrounding air, as well as a sign of mortality, famine and other catastrophes […] The conjunction of Mars and Jupiter causes great pestilence in the air.”[5] Mortimer goes on to explain that “Such planetary alignments are thought to lead to local miasmas: concentrations of fetid air and noxious vapours. These miasmas are then blown on the wind and enter men’s and women’s bodies through the pores of their skin. Once inside they disrupt the balance of the “humors” (the substances believed to control the body’s functions), and people fall sick.”[6]

Corruption of the air could also be caused by “decaying organic matter (including vegetable matter, animals, and human corpses) and “exhalations” from swamps, marshes, and stagnant water. Other explanations include winds (especially southern winds) that transported corrupt air from another locality and (less commonly) earthquakes that released poisonous gasses trapped inside the earth […]”[7]       Considering the visceral relationship people had with smell on a day to day basis, it is easier to understand how the medieval concept of “pestilential air” and its relationship with disease and maintaining health would have made so much sense. If a bad smell reveals a dangerous presence in the air, then great care would need to be taken to protect oneself from these malevolent atmospheres. And so, quite logically, if bad smells indicate that illness is present, or are themselves the cause of illness, then good smells must have some inherent goodness to them. This notion is revealed in the medieval Christian belief that “what is holy shows itself by fragrance.”[8] Though some ingredients incorporated into pomanders certainly did not smell “good”, most did, and by medieval estimation fragrant pomanders would have been valuable medicine indeed.

The Importance of Symbol and Association

To the medieval mind, pomanders may have been thought to work in ways that went beyond their fragrance. Launert states that pomanders also probably functioned as amulets, and that both the container and its contents had “apotropaic significance”, and were used to ward off evil. He notes that “Not infrequently pomanders were worn along with other amulets…”[9] or were encrusted with precious stones that also were known to have healing and protective associations.

Doctrine of Signatures

To understand how substances and materials gained these associations with various healing and protective properties it is helpful to understand the Doctrine of Signatures,

“which dominated medical practice in the Middle Ages. This associated plants and animals, on the basis of their shape and colour, with similar looking parts and organs of the human body with regard to the healing effect of the former on the later […] plants with yellow sap were thought to be effective against jaundice; the convoluted surface of the walnut was compared with that of the brain and therefore good for all maladies of a mental nature [… Nutmeg] were often crafted in silver and gold and given as love tokens. Nutmeg was also an ingredient of pomander mixtures. In primitive cultures seeds, especially those with a thickened and textured seed coat, in other words nuts, always had a magical significance. From the seed as from the egg came new life. Seeds, in a seemingly dead condition, survived the onslaughts of the environment, and the prolific offspring of the nut trees symbolized fullness and life force… The powers of the germ hidden in the shell were beyond, and still are beyond, the comprehension of mankind. It is not therefore surprising that the adoption of the nut as an amulet, and at the same time as a container for aromatic and magical substances, was by no means coincidental.”[10]

Though much less common, pomanders in the shape of snails “have a symbolism of their own… The ability of the snail to withdraw into its protective shell at times of danger or hardship resulted in its becoming the symbol of spring and resurrection. We know of the apotropaic use of snail amulets when plague was rife.”[11]

Talismans and Reliquaries

Thinking about pomanders as a type of amulet, we can start to appreciate that the mere presence of medicinal plants and substances was thought to provide protection and healing, sort of like a lucky charm. In this way, the pomander may contain different substances depending on the healing effect desired by the person who would carry it.[12]

In modern secular society, it can be difficult for some of us to imagine the degree to which religion suffused daily life in medieval times. Keeping in mind the importance of using religious cures before medical ones, it seems useful to examine how people of the time felt about religious relics to help us understand how they could also come to rely on these and other materials to convey healing and protective qualities. Devotional practices and proximity to relics were thought to connect one to the Divine. The practice of assigning healing power to devotional relics and plant, animal, and mineral material is very old, and a cross cultural human practice.[13] “The role of material objects as mediators between the sacred and mundane spheres emerged as a Christian practice in the religious pluralism of the third and fourth centuries. Its origins are to be found in a world pre occupied with commemorating the dead in various different ways but also full of amulets, talismans, charms and other highly portable tokens that linked the natural to the supernatural.”[14] Early examples of pomanders may have combined religious keepsakes and fragrant plant material, like the small book shaped pendant “filled with magical aromatic herbs and/or devotional relics”[15] found in a 6th century, Hungarian woman’s grave.

Even though pomanders were used much later, the examples that we find being used as part of a rosary seem to directly combine the elements of prayer, devotion, and healing substances.

Spices

Spices and Healing

Many factors and ideas contributed to the mystique of spices, and exploring some of these can help us appreciate why including spices in pomanders could be thought to offer protection beyond their lovely smell.

“The location of paradise [heaven] in the East, according to most Christian geographers, contributed to the already alluring image of India and East Asia held in the West. That spices came from Asia was further evidence of their magical qualities, bolstering the attraction conveyed by their expense, mystery, and sacred overtones.”[16] As mentioned earlier, in Christianity at the time, it was thought that “what is holy shows itself by fragrance [… and] that sacred places on earth, especially the Garden of Eden, are the true home of spices.”[17] Paradoxically, use of fragrance to adorn the body was discouraged by the Church, though there was a long tradition of the use of fragrant resins as incense in religious rituals, and it was thought that one way to confirm a person’s sainthood was by the “marvelous sweet odor” revealed by their body after death.[18]

“Spices were considered not only cures but healthful in promoting the body’s equilibrium. In particular they helped balance the influential fluids, or humors, that affected both wellness and mood, so they were not only medicinal but luxurious and beautiful. Spices soothed and cheered, creating a refined environment of taste and comfort.”[19]

Trade and Contemporary Ideas about Their Origins

It is interesting to note that even though spices were incredibly popular and used in great quantities in medieval Europe, “the spices that arrived in the eastern Mediterranean to supply the European market were a small part of the global trade in these commodities.”[20] Europe was on the western edge of a trading network that’s heart was located in India. Excepting Marco Polo’s journey, Europeans seem to have had little direct contact with the lands of the east before the late 1400s. Instead, they relied on “Arab traders and travelers who had the experience and knowledge to understand nearly the entire sequence of the spice trade.”[21] These traders were themselves part of large loops of trade, most of which were centered in India. Merchants from Mediterranean Europe brought spices from Alexandria and other eastern ports to spice trading hubs like Montpelier and Nuremberg.

As if the actual journey of spices from their native lands, passing through many hands at many ports, weren’t reason enough for the high prices that spices commanded, merchants at the time also encouraged the common belief that many spices were guarded by poisonous serpents and other monsters, or grew in dangerous, inaccessible places. “When it isn’t really known where a valued commodity comes from, this mystification is all the more plausible, tempting, and attractive.”[22]

Finally, the European consumer would have access to these exotic substances by trading with a spice merchant at an apothecary, or a traveling peddler in more rural locations. “The medieval spice merchant or apothecary seems to have handled several kinds of products whose relation to each other is not all that clear: edible spices, medicine, sweets (including medicinal preparations but also candied fruit, sugar-coated nuts and spices, nougats, confectionary of all kinds), cordials (spiced and fortified wines), wax (candles and sealing wax), paper, and ink.” Candles were also considered medicine of a sort, since they were lit during prayers to aid in healing.[23] The only thing that these items seem to have in common is that they are special, delightful, and rare.

Pomanders

Long before and throughout medieval times, burning resins and herbs as incense for spiritual and healthful purposes was common and well known. Liquid perfumes were not used until the 17th century, so people of the western world used fragrant solid or semi solid substances if they wished to create a scented atmosphere. “It must also be noted that in the “dark ages” scent was not used for erotic effect but […] as a prophylactic or healing agent.”[24] Not only a way to carry fragrance, pomanders may have been a sort of “amulet [to protect] against all manner of evil.”[25]

Soden-Smith describes pomanders as follows: “The word pomme was used for any object in the shape of an apple; amber for perfume in general, and the primary signification of pomander was not a jewel, but a ball compounded of various ingredients, mostly highly scented and considered efficacious not only against evil odours, which must have been pretty frequent in mediæval days, but also as specifics against infection.”[26]

To that we can add Freedman’s explanation: “… in the aftermath of the Black Death [of 1348], the medical faculty of the University of Paris recommended carrying around sweet-smelling ingredients in what were called “ambergris apples” (pommes d’ambre, the origin of the English word “pomander”). These were openwork metal balls that could be filled with various combinations of aromatics that varied according to recipe, availability, and budget. They were portable and so could accompany the bearer around the dangerous infested streets […]”[27] Keeping the pomander close at hand is important because handling it is part of what of what releases its fragrance, as revealed by the post period metaphor in a theological text comparing how a person is made better by experiencing adversity in life, to how “the pomander smells sweeter by rubbing.”[28]

The word pomander can refer to the fragrant substance, or the intricate case made to hold this substance. All early pomanders were made to hold a “single mass of solid aromatic material. They were spherical in form, or almost so, and usually opened into two equal halves by means or a hinge around the “Equator”. The two halves were usually held together by a spring release device. At one pole they had a loop and ring and at the other a decorative knob. Only when they were part of a rosary did they have a ring at both poles. The surface between equator and poles showed pierced decoration, from simple gothic tracery, flower heads, fish bladders, and medallions within tracery to fine filigree work with plant motifs.”[29] Artwork from the time shows us that the loop allowed a pomander to be hung from ones girdle or neck. Others were attached to a ring with a much shorter chain, and held in the hand, or worked into rosaries, and later, buttons and other clothing decoration. Some also had a base attached, so they could be set on a surface when not being carried, though this was a 16th and 17th century development.

These simple, perforated, metal balls, eventually led to ones of more complex construction, with hinged segments so they open like segmented fruit, each compartment holding a different fragrant element.[30] One 16th century German pomander has spaces labeled for: canel (cinnamon), negelren (cloves), muskat (nutmeg), schlag (a composite of ambergris, musk and civet), bernstein (amber), and rosmarin (rosemary).[31] It was not uncommon for these pomanders to hold sponges soaked in fragrant solutions. Though they can still be perforated on the outside, the compartments of later pomanders are often “completely closed and the scent can only escape when the sliding lid is opened.”[32]

It is worth noting that although the apple or knob shaped pomander is certainly most common, later in period and after, pomanders were also made into the shape of snails, skulls, books, hearts, and more.[33]

But the ornamental metal ball wasn’t the only form of pomander. Alternately, George Cavendish gives us a wonderful contemporary description of Cardinal Wolsey using a different version: “[…] holding in his hand a very fair orange, whereof the meat or substance within was taken out, and filled up again with the part of a sponge, wherein was vinegar, and other confections against the pestilent airs; to which he most commonly smelt unto, passing among the press, or else when he was pestered with many suitors.”[34]

Time Period of Use

Pomanders had enjoyed a long history of use in the Arab world by the time they arrived in Europe. Though a very early pomander of oriental origin was found in the tomb of a 6th century German prince, and later one was presented to the crusader Emperor Frederick Barbarossa by King Baldwin of Constaniople in 1174. [35]

Pomanders appear to have become more common after the 1348 wave of the Black Death, though Soden-Smith offers us an earlier reference to one that appears to have belonged to Margaret de Bohun, daughter of Humphrey de Bohyn: “the “poume de aumbre,” or scent ball, in the composition of which ambergris probably formed a principal ingredient, may deserve notice. I am not aware that any other evidence of its use at so early a time has been noticed (1319-22).”[36]

Intricate silver and silver gilt pomander cases were crafted from the 14th through the 17th centuries. There are also many portraits from that time depicting people with rosaries including what may be pomanders, but as is mentioned on larsdattar.com, it is difficult to tell from these paintings if the rosary is featuring a large decorative bead or a pomander.

Some say that the pomander had fallen out of fashion by the 17th century in favor of liquid perfumes, like scented vinegars.[37] Others feel that it wasn’t until 18th century, when smelling boxes overshadowed pomanders.[38]

Class and Accessibility

Their expensive ingredients and extravagant cases meant that pomanders were often medicine for nobility and the upper ranks of the clergy. Freedman reminds us that spices were highly esteemed and passionately desired by medieval Europeans. But to be effective status items, these exotic and expensive substances needed to be consumed publicly. “[…] all of these spices, jewels, potions, and electuaries were luxury items as well as medicines. Medicine remains expensive today, certainly, but no one leaves their prescription drugs out on the piano or coffee table to display their good taste and ability to afford them. [… In medieval Europe] the boundaries between wellness and luxury were nonexistent.” [39] Some pomanders were richly decorated with jewels and pearls, and were “a favoured form of gift from one [person] to another…”[40]

Pomanders were also made of less expensive ingredients. “Doctors distinguished between herbs and exotics and acknowledged that their practice was to prescribe modest local ingredients for the poor and fine expensive spices for the rich,” [41] even though it is also acknowledged that herbs often work just as well, if not better. When it came to pomanders, sometimes these more affordable options were “less agreeable […] for example finely sieved earth mixed with scented substances, and held together with gum or other plant secretions.”[42]

Geographic Range

Medicinal fragrance balls seem to be used throughout Europe. Period examples, mention in personal inventory lists, as well as what are probably examples from paintings are available from France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, England, and Spain.[43]

Though metal pomander cases were used eventually in England, “aromatic material was originally sewn into linen bags or carried in silver or gold pierced containers known as “pouncet boxes”.”[44]

Many pomander cases were created by German artisans, where pomanders were called “Bismapfel” (Bisam = musk, Apfel = apple), “Bisamknopf” (Knopf = knob), or “Riechapfel” (richen = to smell).[45]

Of What, and How They are Made

In the beginning of their manufacture, musk was the main ingredient used to make pomanders and remained prominent in many period recipes, as did ambergris. As their use developed, pomanders came to rely heavily on “aromatic resins such as labdanum, benzoin [both of which had a long history as use as incense[46]], and storax and plant material such as cinnamon, cloves, iris root, nard (valerian or spike) and Lignum Aloes.”[47]

The list of ingredients used in period recipes is long and varied. After surveying 125 recipes, Smollich identifies 90 different substances used to make them.[48] The following list offers some of common ingredients, and Appendix B explores each of them in more depth.

Agarwood (Lignum Aloes)

Ambergris

Benzoin resin (Benjamin)

Calamus (Sweet Flag)

Camphor

Cinnamon

Civet musk

Cloves

Frankincense (Olibanum)

Gum Arabic

Labdanum

Lavender (Nard)

Mace

Marjoram

Musk

Myrrh

Nutmeg

Orris root

Rose oil

Rosemary

Sandalwood (Sweet Sanders)

Scented water

Spikenard

Styrax (Storax)

Tragacanth (Gum Traganth, Gumdragon, usually in Rosewater)

Vietnamese Balm[49] [50]

The fragrant substance of the pomander was often made by melting and combining the resins, then adding finely ground spices. Musk was added to this warm mixture, or kneaded in later. As it cooled, the warm concoction would have been rolled into a ball in one’s hands, and then often rolled in more finely ground resin or spices. Several period recipes can be found in Appendix A.

To make our pomanders, we will use similar techniques, but omit scarce and protected animal and plant material. This will make our pomanders significantly different from the originals, as musk was a primary ingredient. We will do our best by substituting musk seeds, and including labdanum in our recipe to introduce some of that musky element. But in the end, our pomanders will probably be sweeter smelling than period examples.

Conclusion

Truly, this paper is merely scratching the surface. There are so many more avenues to explore, including: the perceived importance to Christians of the intercession of Saints and the divine in healing, the effects of the crusades on cultural exchange with the East, the use of pomanders by Jewish communities and the Muslim world, pomanders’ relationship with older and persistent folk healing traditions, how did experiencing the Black Death change peoples’ world view and relationship with medicine … and so much more.

But hopefully, these words will help give us a more rich understanding of the pomander as healing form as used by a people who relied heavily on symbolism and associations in a world that was very different than the one we inhabit in the modern West, and inspire further research.

Interesting Links

An extensive collection of links to images of cases and paintings: http://larsdatter.com/pomanders.htm

Images of cases:

1350 Italian: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O13437/pomander-unknown/

1500 German or Swiss: https://books.google.com/books?id=6T-38fUjKLIC&pg=PA36&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

16th Century German: http://www.wartski.com/collection/a-silver-gilt-pomander/

16th Century (and one 17th Century) http://www.gdfalksen.com/post/40180356217

To explore trade routes in Medieval times, I highly recommend the incredible map by Martin Månsson:

https://easyzoom.com/imageaccess/ec482e04c2b240d4969c14156bb6836f

and

http://chssp.ucdavis.edu/programs/historyblueprint/maps/medieval-map#persiangulfcircuit

Also, a modern pewter version of a pomander case is available from Billy and Charlie

https://www.facebook.com/pg/BillyAndCharlie/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10153201429749735

Bibliography

“Pomander, German, 16th Century,” retrieved June 23, 2018, http://www.wartski.com/collection/a-silver-gilt-pomander/

“Pomanders,” Wikipedia, retrieved June 20, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomander

“Pomanders,” retrieved June 23, 2018, http://larsdatter.com/pomanders.htm

Beveridge, William, Thesaurus Theologicus: or a Complete System of Divinity, 1710, Page 264, Retrieved June 22, 2018 from: https://archive.org/details/thesaurustheolog00beve

Boeser, Knut, The elixirs of Nostradamus: Nostradamus’ original recipes for elixirs, scented water, beauty potions, and sweetmeats, Moyer Bell, 1996 (retrieved from Wikipedia entry on Pomanders, June 23, 2018, need to verify source)

Cavendish, George, The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey, Written before 1562, First Published 1641, page 25, Retrieved June 22, 2018 from https://archive.org/details/TheLifeAndDeathOfCardinalWosley

Dyett, Linda, “Small Wonders – Aromatic Adornments,” retrieved June 2, 2018, https://www.ganoksin.com/article/small-wonders-aromatic-adornments/

Freedman, Paul, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2008.

Launert, Edmund, Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, Potterton Books Ltd., 1987.

Mortimer, Ian, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England, Vintage Books, London, 2009

Nunn-Weinberg, Danielle, “The Painted Face: Cosmetics during the SCA Period,” retrieved June 23, 2018, http://www.elizabethancostume.net/paintedface/

Soden-Smith, R.H., “Notes on Pomanders,” The Archaeological Journal; Published Under the Direction of the Central Committee of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland for the Encouragement and Prosecution of Research Into the Arts and Monuments of the Early and Middle Ages, Volume 31, London, 1874, page 337-9, retrieved June 21, 2018 from: https://archive.org/details/archaeologicaljo31brit

Smith, Julia H. M., “Portable Christianity: Relics in the Medieval West (c.700–1200),”2010 Raleigh Lecture on History, page 145, retrieved June 25, 2018, https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_306131_en.pdf

Sterner, Carl S., “A Brief History of Miasmic Theory,” August 2007, retrieved June 24, 2018, http://www.carlsterner.com/research/files/History_of_Miasmic_Theory_2007.pdf

Turner, T.H., “The Will of Humphrey de Bohyn, Earl of Hereford and Essex, with Extracts from the Inventory of his Effects, A.D. 1319-1322,” The Archaeological Journal; Published Under the Direction of the Central Committee of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland for the Encouragement and Prosecution of Research Into the Arts and Monuments of the Early and Middle Ages, Volume 2, London, 1844, pages 344-5, Retrieved June 22, 2018 from: https://archive.org/details/archaeologicaljo02brit

Twomey, Lesley K., “Perfumes and perfume-making in the Celestina” The Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, Volume 86, Number 1, 2009, Liverpool University Press, retrieved June 21, 2018, http://muse.jhu.edu/article/259087

Zajaczkowa, Jadwiga, “Scents of the Middle Ages: Uses of the Aromas of Herbs, Spices and Resins,” retrieved, June 19, 2018, http://www.gallowglass.org/jadwiga/herbs/scents.html 

** Please note, this source was wonderfully cited and offered many other sources to explore.

End Notes

[1] Mortimer, Ian, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England, Vintage Books, London, 2009, page 7.

[2] Freedman, Paul, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2008, page 81.

[3] Mortimer, Ian, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England, Vintage Books, London, 2009, page 190.

[4] Sterner, Carl S., “A Brief History of Miasmic Theory,” retrieved June 24, 2018, http://www.carlsterner.com/research/files/History_of_Miasmic_Theory_2007.pdf

[5] Mortimer, Ian, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England, Vintage Books, London, 2009, page 190-1.

[6] Ibid, page 191.

[7] Sterner, Carl S., “A Brief History of Miasmic Theory,” retrieved June 24, 2018, http://www.carlsterner.com/research/files/History_of_Miasmic_Theory_2007.pdf

[8] Freedman, Paul, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2008, page 81.

[9] Launert, Edmund, Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, Potterton Books Ltd., 1987, page 20.

[10] Ibid, pages 20-1.

[11] Ibid, page 22.

[12] Ibid, page 23.

[13] “Relic,” Wikipedia, retrieved June 25, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relic

[14] Smith, Julia H. M., “Portable Christianity: Relics in the Medieval West (c.700–1200),”2010 Raleigh Lecture on History, page 145, retrieved June 25, 2018, https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_306131_en.pdf

[15] Launert, Edmund, Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, Potterton Books Ltd., 1987, page 23.

[16] Freedman, Paul, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2008, page 4-5.

[17] Ibid, page 81.

[18] Ibid, page 81.

[19] Ibid, pages 4-5.

[20] Ibid, page 105.

[21] Ibid, page 108.

[22] Ibid, page 135.

[23] Ibid, page 119.

[24] Launert, Edmund, Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, Potterton Books Ltd., 1987, pages 16-7.

[25] Ibid, page 18.

[26] Soden-Smith, R.H., “Notes on Pomanders,” The Archaeological Journal; Published Under the Direction of the Central Committee of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland for the Encouragement and Prosecution of Research Into the Arts and Monuments of the Early and Middle Ages, Volume 31, London, 1874, pages 337-9, retrieved June 21, 2018 from: https://archive.org/details/archaeologicaljo31brit

[27] Freedman, Paul, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2008, page 64.

[28] Beveridge, William, Thesaurus Theologicus: or a Complete System of Divinity, 1710, Page 264, Retrieved June 22, 2018 from: https://archive.org/details/thesaurustheolog00beve

[29] Launert, Edmund, Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, Potterton Books Ltd., 1987, pages 18.

[30] Soden-Smith, R.H., “Notes on Pomanders,” The Archaeological Journal; Published Under the Direction of the Central Committee of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland for the Encouragement and Prosecution of Research Into the Arts and Monuments of the Early and Middle Ages, Volume 31, London, 1874, page 340-3, Retrieved June 21, 2018 from: https://archive.org/details/archaeologicaljo31brit

[31] “Pomander, German, 16th Century,” retrieved June 23, 2018, http://www.wartski.com/collection/a-silver-gilt-pomander/

[32] Launert, Edmund, Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, Potterton Books Ltd., 1987, page 19.

[33] Ibid, page 22.

[34] Cavendish, George, The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey, written before 1562, first published in 1641, page 25, retrieved July 9, 2018, https://archive.org/details/TheLifeAndDeathOfCardinalWosley

[35] Launert, Edmund, Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, Potterton Books Ltd., 1987, page 17.

[36] Turner, T.H., “The Will of Humphrey de Bohyn, Earl of Hereford and Essex, with Extracts from the Inventory of his Effects, A.D. 1319-1322,” The Archaeological Journal; Published Under the Direction of the Central Committee of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland for the Encouragement and Prosecution of Research Into the Arts and Monuments of the Early and Middle Ages, Volume 2, London, 1844, pages 344-5. Retrieved June 22, 2018 from: https://archive.org/details/archaeologicaljo02brit

[37] Dyett, Linda, “Small Wonders – Aromatic Adornments,” retrieved June 2, 2018, https://www.ganoksin.com/article/small-wonders-aromatic-adornments/

[38] Launert, Edmund, Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, Potterton Books Ltd., 1987, page 21.

[39] Freedman, Paul, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2008, page 68-9.

[40] Launert, Edmund, Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, Potterton Books Ltd., 1987, page 18.

[41] Freedman, Paul, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven & London 2008, page 68-9.

[42] Launert, Edmund, Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, Potterton Books Ltd., 1987, page 24.

[43] “Pomanders,” retrieved June 23, 2018, http://larsdatter.com/pomanders.htm

[44] Launert, Edmund, Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, Potterton Books Ltd., 1987, page 17.

[45] Ibid, page 17.

[46] Ibid, page 11.

[47] Ibid, page 17.

[48] Smollich, R., Der Bisamapfel in Kunst and Wissenchaft, Stuttgard, 1983, as listed in Edmund Launert’s source material in: Perfume and Pomanders: Scent and Scent Bottles through the Ages, page 23.

[49] Zajaczkowa, Jadwiga, “ Scents of the Middle Ages: Uses of the Aromas of Herbs, Spices and Resins,” retrieved, June 19, 2018, http://www.gallowglass.org/jadwiga/herbs/scents.html

[50] “Pomanders,” Wikipedia, retrieved June 20, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomander

 

 

A Gift

And something for my sweetheart, a leather belt purse of goatskin inspired by Olaf Goubitz’s wonderful publication: Purses in Pieces http://www.oxbowbooks.com/pdfs/books/purses%20amerika.pdf

This paper shares about archaeological finds from late medieval and 16th century Netherlands, and is full of examples and variations of these belt purses.  Starting with this wonderful and inspiring resource, I drafted a pattern and cut the pieces out of undyed vegetable tanned goatskin.  Using what I had on hand, I stitched the bag together with cotton carpet thread, soaked and turned the bag, then punched and laced the top of the pieces together with twined leather thongs.  This is a very simple version of this form of bag.  I look forward to revisiting this paper down the road and trying another form.

Bringing the Light

The summer solstice seemed like a fortuitous start for these camp lanterns.  A bit down and dirty, I made them so we would have a more period option than head lamps and flashlights this year.  Each one holds an LED puck light inside a yellow cloth bag, so the light is softer than the straight LED.  I was wishing for a drill press, but they came out quite well, and was able to use materials on hand to fabricate them, including a couple sheets of plastic stencil/pattern making material that had long been part of my mother’s quilting stash.  The pattern is based on a lantern found amongst items in the shipwreck the Mary Rose, an English warship who sailed from 1511 to 1545.