One of the many special things about the SCA is that we get to be nostalgic. Which is not something you always get to do with re-enactment. And what I mean by nostalgic is that we can display those symbols associated with awards that have been bestowed upon us in a not so always historical manner.
Author: Maxima Page 1 of 2
Full disclosure, I am not an expert in regards to Ancient Roman cosmetics, or modern cosmetics for that matter. I thought it best to put that out on the table right away. However, it is something I am trying to master, which is usually when everything goes horribly wrong.
The images of Pompeii have given us an unprecedented glimpse into the past. When Mount Vesuvius erupted and devastated the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, time froze. And while there is always the possibility, and likelihood, of artistic license, these images provide us with a well preserved glimpse into how they inhabitants dressed, their habits, beliefs, social environment, and status.
Everyone has their own approach to developing a sex worker/courtesan persona. What ever your journey is, remember, you represent a strong confederation of people who have worked hard to gain ground and respectability in the SCA. What you do as a sex worker/courtesan persona, or wearing the symbols of the Knowne World Courtesan, reflects on everyone. No pressure. I just highly recommend taking awhile to study the history of sex work, courtly etiquette, misogyny, sexism, and whorephobia before taking that leap. And then make your entrance on your own time, when you’re ready. I spent a year before I donned the red veil and hart pin (psst… that’s not a requirement).
A list of items with the Knowne World Courtesan hart (badge/symbol) on them, and some things just for fun.
Here is a list that I’m continually adding to of items and supplies for the Roman persona.
Doing courtesan shit with my courtesan friends, and other things, a diary.
Berg, R., & Neudecker, R. (2018). THE ROMAN COURTESAN: ARCHEOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS OF A LITERARY TOPOS (Vol. 46). Acta Instituti Romani Finlandiae. https://www.irfrome.org
Calinescu, A., & Indiana University, Bloomington. Art Museum. (1996). Ancient jewelry and archaeology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
It’s probably not what you think… Well, if you think it’s about an independent group of living history re-enactors portraying, studying, and educating others about pre-17th century sex-workers, then you’d be right. The Knowne World Courtesans (KWC) is one of the many diverse groups in the Society of Creative Anachronisms. An inclusive group, consisting of all genders, who portray a sex-worker persona, and of course their supporters. The KWC also stands against whorephobia, slut-shamming, bigotry, racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, and all other forms of prejudice. Members of the KWC do not have sex for money or trade under any circumstances.
These are excellent examples of Roman Age jewelry and how it was worn.
Here is a collection of Roman jewelry that I have tried to recreate. Unfortunately, most of the original pieces went through auction houses (as the shiny jewelry tends to) and they specified that their photos could not be displayed in any public form. Even though this is non-commercial and educational site, displaying the photos would violate copyright law. Some pictures, when clicked, will bring you to the original source.
AN INTRODUCTION TO ROMAN JEWELRY 1 BCE to 2 CE
Sources for Pre-17th Century Patterns, Outfits, Resources, & Supplies
Please keep in mind that archeological evidence is continually being cataloged, studied and interpreted. In which case, there is always the chance of conflicting results or changes in theories. It’s something to keep in mind for when ideas clash. There is also so little known that a lot of speculation has to happen. One of the neat things about being in the SCA or any historical reenactment group is that we get to go test drive a lot of these theories. That being said, here are some sources for you to begin with.
Online sources for fabrics.
It can be overwhelming and expensive to get everything at once, here is a list in order of importance of items to work on obtaining. Remember, you can always make things out of cheaper materials first and work up to nicer stuff later.
Here are some resources on the various areas and types of historical sex work. I suggest picking one area that interests you as it can be a bit overwhelming. These resources were collected by the Knowne World Courtesans.