The Blog of The Bride of Sesshomaru

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Welcome to my sewing, historical reenactment, and CosPlay blog! Here on this blog you will find all of my random thoughts about sewing, the SCA, manga, anime, CosPlay, costume making, embroidery, sewing historically accurate Japanese costumes, and my fandom of Lord Sesshomaru whom I CrossPlay as.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Members of The SCA are Not Anachronists or What Is a Creative Anachronist?


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First off, by now you have heard me talking about the SCA, and are probably wondering if I belong to their group. The answer? No, I am not a member of the SCA. The reason? Well, the SCA is a historical reenactment group, (historical reenactment being a rabid hobby of mine) however, they focus on a time period that STOP at the year 1599. There in lays the problem: I do all eras. I've done pre-Columbian Native American, 14th century Gothic, I've been wearing various Japanese garb since I was 8 years old (no idea what era any of it comes from), I live 24/7 in Napoleon era empire gowns and Edwardian frock coats, I wear roaring 20's flapper dresses, 1950's poodle skirts, and on top of that I've done fantasy stuff varying from cartoon characters to book characters to comic book characters to characters of my own to circus clowns to faeries to futuristic sci-fi stuff fit for Theirry Mugler's Monster Collection, and of course my latest project comes from manga. To make this a bit more strange for most people is the fact that these cloths I wear are NOT costumes. They are in fact the cloths I wear every day. Every time I set a foot outside, people gawk at me and start asking the silliest stupid dang questions. Like:

    Are you promoting a play for the local theater?
    Are you on the way to a costume party?
    Is there a Renaissance Fair nearby?
    Are you a circus clown?
    OMG! It's a Harry Potter fan!
    Are you a witch? . . .

and my personal favorite:

    What the hell planet did you drop off of?!?

yea . . .okay . . . whatever. So what prompts these non-ending string of questions everywhere I go? My cloths.

Historical Reenactment & CosPlay is my life. I have never been to a Con or a Ren Faire, but that hasn't stopped me from wearing "costumes", though technically these are not costumes as they are my actual street cloths or garb and therefor I do not call them costumes because I do not think of them as costumes. I do not own any "normal" non-costume "street cloths". What you see me wearing as CosPlay type things IS the way I dress when I'm not CosPlaying, because for me, this is not about "playing". My CosPlay can more correctly be termed as "historical reenactment of fantasy costumes".

My clothen style includes velvet, capes, empire gowns, gowns with trains, burnoose, shawls, runas, fishnet hose, striped stockings, combat boots, velvet, top-hats, long dresses, ruffled frilly skirts, cosplay, Gothic, Lolita, Victorian, Edwardian, velvet, frock coats, Alice in Wonderland, vampire fashions, Medieval fashions, crinolines & petticoats, kimono, ethnic costumes, eyelash-fringe fabric, sequins, beads, glitter, lace, cloaks, ruffles, broomstick skirts, stripes, plaid, poet blouses, peasant dresses, fairy tale princess gowns, faerie outfits, wizard-look stuff, big hats, bright colored hats, ballet flats, platforms, anything that Dracula would love to wear, and also stuff like worn by Jem*, The Holograms, and The Misfits. I the 1980's I wore min-skirts, but as the years have gone by, my dresses and skirts got longer; today my hems sweep the floor and they often have trains. I have one dress that has 7 yards of fabric on the skirt alone, it can be worn with or without hoops.

Whenever I go out in public, my conversations with strangers sounds something like this:

    I was dressing like Jem, before Jem was invented.

    I love anything made of velvet!

    I don't like pants: won't wear them, won't own them.

    No, what I'm wearing is not a costume.

    Yes, I dress like this every day, all day long, even around the house, when working in the garden, and when shoveling manure out of the barn. Yes I am a farmer. Yes I do dress like this while doing farm work.

    No, I don't own any "normal" clothes.

    No, I can't tell you where I bought them, because I didn't buy them, I sewed them.

    No, I can't tell you where to buy the pattern, I didn't buy a pattern I made the pattern. I've been sewing since I was 6 years old when I made my first doll. I made my first ball-gown at age 12. At age 16 I graduated from a 2 year course in fashion design & merchandising. I've spent most of my life studying fashion history and the art of recreating historical clothen from the Gothic periods (1300 - 1500 & 1850 - 1930), and those are the clothes I thus wear.

    No I already told you this is not a costume, these are my regular cloths, I don't care if you think this is a costume, it is not, please stop asking me if it is.

    I don't like people who think I'm wearing a costume even after been told that I am not.

    Yes, I know this looks like a Willy Wonka costume, yes, Johnny Depp inspired it. Yes, I do wear a top hat everywhere I go. No, I repeat this is not a costume.

    Yes, I REALLY am making a historical reproduction of Lord Sesshomaru's costume, and yes, I do intend to wear it daily as part of my street cloths, fluffy tail, battle armor, and all.

    No, I'm not crazy, I just hate that Halloween only comes once a year so now I live every day like it was Halloween.

    No, THIS . . . IS . . . NOT . . . A . . . COSTUME . . . I already told you, I always dress like this. I've been dressing like this for the last 20 years. Please stop making me repeat myself.


I have had that conversation so many times now it's burned in my brain.

I think the funniest thing is that I am constantly asked for my ID...."You got to be over 18 . . ." yadda, yadda, yadda

Than I whip out my ID... "Is this real? Wait, you're really THAT old? . . .but . . .but . . your cloths.... I thought you were a teenager! I'm so sorry, I didn't realize... it's just that your cloths... I thought..."

Honey, I haven't been a teenager for 20 years! But thank you for thinking I was one, it's not every day some one my age gets mistaken for a teenager... will, with me it is, but for other folks my age . . .

I am an Anachronist. An anachronist is someone who does not wear "normal" street cloth, but rather wears ethnic or period cloths instead of street cloths. The Amish are also anachroists, because they shun modern society and have "stopped" history at the year 1860 and will do, own, or wear nothing that was invented after 1860.

The problem with The SCA is that though they call themselves anachronists, they are only anachronist wanna-bes, because they only "pretend" to dress old fashioned when they go to meetings and ren faires and than once the faire is over they quickly change out of their garb and into their jeans and T's with a sigh of relief that they can finally get out of their garb now that the faire is over.

As you can see, though I do create and wear cloths that come from the SCA's pre-1600 era, I usually wear stuff from the late 1700's - 1930's instead, and thus I don't really fit in with the SCA's criteria. Though I am not a member, I do love their group, and the members are absolutely wonderful, thus I actively promote their group.

Here's the thing: I'll mention the SCA to someone and they go "Huh? What's that?". The first thing they want to know is not "What do they do?", no, the first question asked is, "What does SCA stand for?"

So, what does it stand for? It stands for The Society for Creative Anachronism.
Well, the first part of it's easy to figure out: it's a group of people and they do something creatively. The problem is that word *Anachronism*, because nobody knows what an Anachronist is or what an Anachronist does or why any one would choose to become an Anachronist in the first place. And that is why I am writing this post: to explain what an Anachronist is and what they do.

The dictionary tells us that an Anachronist is one who practices Anachronism. Well, I must say THAT was REALLY helpful. Okay, so what is Anachronism? According to Wikipedia Anachronism is this:



    An anachronism (from the Greek "ανά", "against", and "χρόνος", "time") is anything that is temporally incongruous in the time period it has been placed in—that is, it appears in a temporal context in which it seems sufficiently out of place as to be peculiar, incomprehensible or impossible. The item is often an object, but may be a verbal expression, a technology, a philosophical idea, a musical style, a material, a custom, or anything else closely enough bound to a particular period as to seem odd outside it.

    An anachronist prefers older, often obsolete cultural artifacts over newer ones. For example, a modern-day anachronist might choose to wear a top-hat, use quill pens, or use a type-writer. This choice may reflect an eccentricity, aesthetic preference, or an ethical acceptance or rejection of the societal role of that artifact.

    An anachronism can be an artifact which appears out of place archaeologically, geologically or temporally. It is sometimes called OOPArt, for "out of place artifact". Anachronisms usually appear more technologically advanced than is expected for their place and period.

    Anachronism is used especially in works of imagination that rest on a historical basis. Anachronisms may be introduced in many ways, originating, for instance, in disregard of the different modes of life and thought that characterize different periods, or in ignorance of the progress of the arts and sciences and other facts of history. They vary from glaring inconsistencies to scarcely perceptible misrepresentation. It is only since the close of the 18th century that this kind of deviation from historical reality has jarred on a general audience. Anachronisms abound in the works of Raphael and Shakespeare, as well as in those of less celebrated painters and playwrights of earlier times.

    In particular, the artists, on the stage and on the canvas, in story and in song, assimilated their characters to their own nationality and their own time. Roman soldiers appear in Renaissance military garb. The Virgin Mary was represented in Italian works with Italian characteristics, and in Flemish works with Flemish ones. Alexander the Great appeared on the French stage in the full costume of Louis XIV of France down to the time of Voltaire; and in England the contemporaries of Joseph Addison found unremarkable (in Pope's words)

    "Cato's long wig, flower'd gown, and lacquer'd chair."

    Shakespeare's audience similarly did not ask whether the University of Wittenberg had existed in Hamlet's day, or whether clocks that struck time were available in Julius Caesar's ancient Rome.

    However, in many works, such anachronisms are not simply the result of ignorance, which would have been corrected had the artist simply had more historical knowledge. Renaissance painters, for example, were well aware of the differences in costume between ancient times and their own, given the renewed attention to ancient art in their time, but they often chose to depict ancient scenes in contemporary garb. Rather, these anachronisms reflect a difference of emphasis from the 19th and 20th century attention to depicting details of former times as they "actually" were. Artists and writers of earlier times were usually more concerned with other aspects of the composition, and the fact that the events depicted took place long in the past was secondary. Such a large number of differences of detail required by historic realism would have been a distraction. (see Accidental and intentional anachronism below)

    Authors sometimes telescope chronology for the sake of making a point. Bolesław Prus does this at several junctures in his 1895 historical novel, Pharaoh, set in the Egypt of 1087–1085 B.C.E. The ancient "Suez Canal," proposed by Prince Hiram (chapter 55),[1] had existed in ancient Egypt's Middle Kingdom, centuries before the period of the novel. Conversely, the remarkably accurate calculation of the earth's circumference by Eratosthenes, and the invention of a steam engine by Heron, both ascribed in chapter 60 to the priest Menes,[2] had historically occurred in Alexandrian Egypt, centuries after the period of the novel.

    In recent times, the progress of archaeological research and the more scientific spirit of history have encouraged audiences and artists to view anachronism as an offense or mistake.

    Yet modern dramatic productions often rely on anachronism for effect. In particular, directors of Shakespeare's plays may use costumes and props not only of Shakespeare's day or their own, but of any era in between or even those of an imagined future. For instance, the musical Return to the Forbidden Planet crosses The Tempest with popular music to create a science fiction musical.

    A celebrated 1960 stage production of Hamlet, starring Richard Burton, was set on a bare New York stage in contemporary rehearsal clothes: the audience could have been watching the rehearsal before the dress rehearsal. The point of the staging was apparently that the story of Hamlet is a universal one that was equally credible in the 20th century as in the 17th.



Well, the Wiki article goes on and on and has a whole lot more to say, but that there sums it up pretty good, and you know what? It doesn't say anything about being limited to a pre-1600 era! It's that limiting to the pre-1600's era that prevent me from becoming a member of the SCA, because I can not in good conscious call myself a true Anachronist if I was to limit myself to recreating historically accurate history from a single time period, not when the meaning of the word Anachronist means to take one thing from history and deliberately throw it into another time period.

You see to be an Anachronist, is to throw historical accuracy to the wind and NOT be historically accurate, for the sake of mixing old with new, and be yourself and doing what you want to do, regardless of the norm, the rules, or what others think you should do. You wear cloths from periods not today, not to faires as costumes, but EVERY DAY, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, because for an anachronist those as the clothes you feel comfortable in. You may drive a horse and buggy instead of a car. Maybe you use a wringer washing machine instead of an automatic one, like I do.

It confuses me that the SCA and it's members promote the historical accuracy to such extremes when doing so goes completely against the meaning of the name of their group. It farther confuses me that they claim to be anachronists and yet less than 1% of them wear the cloths they wear to the fairs as part of their daily wear. A true anachronist would wear them every day, not just one or two weeks a year.

Anyways now you know what an Anachronist is and how they are different from SCAians.


What's your take on this? I'd love to hear what you have to say about this post. Leave a comment and share your views!



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