Author: Maxima Page 1 of 2
I’m currently updating my handout. Please contact me if you’d like what I currently have.
Chain and chain and gem/bead necklaces were extremely popular during the Roman Age. It’s a show of gold and gems, both status symbols. Here are several examples. It should be important to note that these may appear more popular because they weathered time better, however, when you look at the Fayum Mummy Portraits you’ll see several examples which allude to their popularity.
The gap-sleeved tunica (tunica muliebris or woman’s tunic), a descendent of the greek ionic chiton, remains an iconic garment of the Roman Era and a fairly simple garment to construct.
How I make rosettes for a Roman gap-sleeved tunica.
Kingdom of Northshield A.S. LV
The fascinum (or phallus or Divine Penis) was a cult like object. It was used to ward off evil (the evil eye) and for protection, versus something sexual as one may think. It was celebrated, worshiped, and its likeness was used in celebrations. It has been found depicted on rings, pendants, wind chimes, and buildings (often thought to be brothels but more likely to protect the residents of the home). Carvings were also found in places of possible danger such as on street corners and bridges. They were also placed on the front of carriages and possibly worn by soldiers for presumably the same reason. Rings and pendants were worn by boys (sometimes even bestowed on them at birth) to protect their health and virility. Overall, the fascinum, when worn especially, was believed to be a powerful form of apotropaic magic. Given its prevalence it was obviously an important part of Roman society. It can be surmised that the reason it has been omitted from modern literature is due to its modern taboo nature. Luckily its importance and meaning can be found in cultural, religious, and archaeological finds. So, if you’re worried about the evil eye…
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.
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.
A list I’m continually adding to for the Roman persona.
March 2021: Unfortunately, I’ve had to cancel classes but this gives me time to revamp things, add in new things I’ve learned, and fall down some rabbit holes.
Berg, R., & Neudecker, R. (2018). THE ROMAN COURTESAN: ARCHEOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS OF A LITERARY TOPOS (Vol. 46). Acta Instituti Romani Finlandiae. https://www.irfrome.org
*Be aware that the exact meaning of some Latin words can be problematic at times. Transliteration can be difficult especially when the names of colors and garments were sometimes used to describe a position, job, social status/class, etc. Please derive and revise your conclusions with as much evidence as possible.
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.
Also known as the Fayum Mummy Portraits.
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.