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Re: On Favors

Poster: Beth Morris <bmorris@iamdigex.net>

Thank you Donal, for your *excellent* article on favors!

There is one thing mentioned which I would like to add to.

Donal writes:

> In the Current Middle Ages, the custom has developed of making special
> objects specifically called "favors" that are given to a fighter or fighters
> for several reasons.  <snip>

This is true, and well and good, but the tea-towel favor - 

> most commonly a favor takes the form of a
> rectangle of fabric with some decoration identifying the bestower, and
> sometimes, especially in the case of "Romantic" favors, the one wearing it
> as well.  Usually worn tucked into a belt or strap, they will often have a
> loop at the top for extra security. <snip> 

bears little or no resemblance to *anything* described in period
literature, illuminations, etc.  This is one of those cases where with a
teensy bit more effort on the research end (and frequently significantly
*less* effort on the construction end!) one can produce a marvelous,
original and period favor (and here I commend me to Her Gracious
Majesty, the Queen - if any of you have seen the sleeves she has granted
to His Majesty and to Her Champion, you will understand my point).

> Lacking a prepared favor, a lady might
> improvise.  She might give the fighter a bit of ribbon from her hair or a
> sleeve (not a whole sleeve, please, ladies, the chance of damage is too
> great!), a scarf, or some other thing that would not itself be at risk or
> place the wearer at risk.  For that reason, a piece of jewelry in not a good
> choice.

Here Donal provides a couple of examples that will also make good
'permanent' tokens as well.  A pair of sleeves, with one made especially
for giving and the other to be worn by the lady?  I cannot imagine a
more elegant statement of devotion!  In some Middle Eastern cultures, it
was customary to give one's lover the elaborately woven drawstring of
one's loose trousers - an easy item to make, and one both intimate (to
those who know) and period!  In one medieval romance, the lady even
gives the gentleman a silk chemise, which she has briefly worn next to
her skin - he wears it over his armor in the fight!  While that might be
a bit much for some, there are other options described in manuscripts -
veils, scarves, jewelry, gloves.  What about a lady's leather garter
from her hose?  Even a stocking itself (and we're talking sturdy woolen
or silk ones, not a nylon!)?  The lacing from one's gown - perhaps a tad
intimate, but also convenient.  A linen cap (one that you don't care
will probably be ruined)?

Donal warns against jewelry, and in principle I agree with him, but
there are certainly ways to make jewelry into a favor safe to wear upon
the field - rings, rings made into brooches, collars of maintenance,
cast badges (excellent for households!).

I encourage all who are inspired by Donal's article and by the love of
that gentle who fights in their name to do a tiny bit of homework and
truly give their love a splendid (and period) favor.

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