Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Apollo's Arrow - Nergis

This is my first Apollo's Arrow (helping with Mikjall's for wording doesn't count) and I was happy to know that the recipient was a friend of Mikjall so I could pick his brain for ideas.

The biggest challanges for this scroll were two fold: 1) Finding a Turkish/Persian source for an archer that specifically did not contain a sagittary (which is the symbol for the grant level archer award) and 2) wording.

The source page was one of a few options from a Mongolian source scouted out by Marieta.  I felt the illuminations were close enough to the feel of the Turkish pictures (and single Mamluk one) I'd scouted to give a correct sense of how to draw the figures.  I found one that I felt would work (a group of archers squaring off against a dragon) and tailored it to a single figure and the dragon.

Now for the truly hard part - words.  I messaged my closest poetry expert, Countess Marguerite (current King's Bard) for ideas for Islamic or Middle Eastern styles of poetry, because like an idiot, I thought this was something I could just whip up and have it done.  

First off all, Marguerite is a treasure trove of poetry research.  She found a few examples of Turkish and Persian poems and how they were constructed.  She gave me all the tools for a great jumping off point and a taste of things that could be a rabbit hole of digging through medieval poetry.  Thankfully, deadlines prevented any rabbit holes. :)

I chose to write a masnavi (also called mathnawi).  This typed of poem was written by Persian, Kurdish, Turkish, and Urdu cultures and has a few poetic variants (usually differing in style and content).  The mathnawi features rhyming couplets (aa/bb/cc pattern) with lines of 10-11 syllables.  Typically these poems can be as long as they need to, but I wanted to keep it short to make sure I had time to work on the illumination.  I ended up choosing to do an Arabic mathnawi (also called muzdawidj) which differs in that instead of couplets it uses a triplet rhyming pattern (aaa/bbb/ccc).  The original page I was looking at didn't make it clear if it also followed the 11 and sometimes 10 syllable line pattern, but after checking in the Marguerite, we agreed it likely would (later, supporting pages I found also agreed with this).  With a bit of peer editing for word choice, I had a poem.  The arms don't follow the poetic pattern and I was fine not messing with it.

Recipient: Nergis bint Mustafa
Award: Apollo's Arrow with Award of Arms
Hand: faux-Arabic script
Words: Arabic mathnawi poem by me
Specs: gouache on pergamentata, Schmincke gold watercolor
Source: (in process of redoing the link)

"To our great and wise rulers, words of praise came
of a fierce archer by the noble name
of Nergis bint Mustafa. They proclaim:

An Apollo's Arrow they would bestow
unto her. For she did nurture and grow
interest in archery; showing skill with her bow. 

Ionnes, Sultan, Honig Sultana fair
to their beloved East far and wide declare
Nergis would also be given arms to bear: 

Per chevron purpure and vert on a chevron above a
raven migrant to chief argent three bunches of grapes leaved proper."

Side by side comparison of the original and my scroll.  This is pre-clean ups on my scroll as there were a few spots that needed scraping (like where my elbow went into the green paint) and I hadn't erased the lines yet.
Sketch of art and finished calligraphy.  I had to re-tool the first line due to leaving out a word and had to cover for it.  It still managed to follow the poetic rules and it worked.

Close up of finished art and calligraphy before I added the page border.  

Something about the faux-Arabic hand makes it super fun.  I will say I sit there and work through permutations of the letters until I get a good picture of what the word itself should look like.  All in all, I'm proud of how this one turned out considering the art style is not in my comfort zone.

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