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Archive for May, 2013

A few weeks ago, I discovered that I could squeeze in an introductory belly dance class with my friend Tracey, so I signed up. So far, it has been fun to learn some basic steps, and I quite enjoy the exercise. At the end of the course, Tracey holds a performance/party for all her students from various levels, so we can see what everyone has been learning. I decided I would dance with the beginner’s class. This meant I needed a costume. So for the past couple of weeks, I have been researching Middle Eastern dance history, and Persian costume history. I am not exactly svelte, so I wanted something more modest than the stereotypical belly dance costume with the skimpy bra top.

I have settled on a modified beladi costume. I couldn’t find solid evidence for the beladi costume before the 19th C, but neither could I find much hard evidence of Middle Eastern dance. However, it is clear from other records that some sort of dance did happen in the medieval Middle East, and some of the baladi dresses were not too different from modern thawb. I also looked at medieval and Ottoman Persian clothing, which would have been a lovely option since some of our dance moves are from the Turkish tradition, but that was too complicated for an outfit I may use only once. Still, I have carefully printed out Rozalynd’s patterns and instructions from http://www.scapersianu.com/ for the day when I decide I need to make those clothes – I know just how beautifully they fit!

In the meantime, I am pleased to report that sari fabric purchased over 20 years ago has been converted into a baladi-inspired costume, with a chiffon three-piece overskirt. I even have enough chiffon left over to make some short sleeves. Depending on time and energy levels between now and the show, I will decorate the bodice with some sequins and beads that I have for reasons unknown. This was a completely unexpected addition to my A&S 50 challenge list, as the fabric is not at all period, but I’m pleased to have another UFO out of my basement. Pictures will follow as soon as the entire outfit is complete.

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New apprentice

I am very pleased and proud to announce that I took a new apprentice today. Dubhease has been a friend for many years. I considered her to be part of my household, apparently to the point that others already thought she was officially one of us. Dubhease is a bard, skilled in storytelling, song, and dance. She plays the harp and entertains both children and adults (her retelling of classic tales using finger puppets is legendary, and she has wrangled many groups of young children into performing plays at events).

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Finally, after years of searching, I may have tracked down two sources of evidence on fishing nets and netting needles. Neither is purely within the time period or location I am most interested in, but it’s a start. From a 2007 article on Ancient Nets and Fishing Gear (primarily Roman world), I found two references to netting needles, along with a photograph of a Mediterranean filet type needle that looks old, but is not explicitly identified as Roman. One led me to Von Brandt’s Fish Catching Methods of the World, which shows a variety of needles from different places, and has lots of information about what knots were used where, and when (as well as information on knotless nets). Another, on Ancient Fish and Fish Processing in the Black Sea Region, has an article on the archaeological evidence for fish processing, and an illustration of a bone netting needle. I can’t actually see the illustration on the internet, so will need to do an interlibrary loan request. The very first article has information on different net shapes and their purposes. This should keep me busy for a few weeks!

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