The Mourning Robe
Quilted silk and metallic threads (silver, gold, electrum, copper and others).
During the PEP, large numbers of male state officials in the Middle Kingdoms wore this style of garment. Several different names in Baklunish, variously translated into Perranic Flanne, are used to describe it. One of these, long Lharoh (dragon robe), best characterises its design, although the cut is also an important element. The straight-seamed, tapering shape, the narrow sleeves ending in protective curved cuffs and the closure secured with spherical buttons pushed through silk loops, are all perceived as Manoh (from Mitrik) characteristics, More northerly styles being generally more voluminous. As can be seen in paintings of palace life, three-quarter-length, dark-coloured coats were sometimes teamed with dragon robes; in such combinations only their cuffs and hems would have been visible. We know that this particular dragon robe was reserved for "imperial use". ie it was only worn for events connected with the imperial dynasty. It is a special bright yellow (ie is a garment designed for a mourner and made after the Settlement of Ket ) and it incorporates twelve small motifs — emblematic of the supreme authority of the ruler — dispersed among the dragon and cloud design. Although they have earlier precedents, it was only following the Settlemet of Ket that these were used (these twelve devices) in this form. On the front, hovering above the foaming waters, are a pair of cups and a square of green waterweed. Above waist level, at either side of the front-facing dragon, are an axe head and a Wigg (good fortune) symbol. Above this dragon a star constellation comprised of three circles can be seen. Curling over the shoulders of the garment, at either side, are the red sun and white and blue moons. Mountains, a small dragon, a pheasant, grain and fire adorn the back.
The Writing Set
This carved red lacquer writing set consists of a low table on which is placed a tray of writing utensils. It conforms with the passion of the Emperor Edhrim for painting and calligraphy and also his delight in camouflaging objects and hiding them in surprising ways. The lacquer book covers with ivory sides carved to resemble pages are in fact a box which opens to reveal a copy of the celebrated Piwen Brenyol, the vast rhyming Flanne dictionary compiled during the PEP. The cylindrical brush pot turns out to hold five cloisonne enamel paperweights. Inside the two square boxes with lions carved on the lids are a cloisonne paste box and a jade seal. The bell-shaped lacquer box contains a green inkstone and the shallow rectangular box holds two ink sticks of red and black ink, respectively. Each of these is decorated with gilt and inscribed ‘Hall of Three Treasures’, the name of the Emperor’s study at his primary residence on the Golden Hill, the House of Mental Cultivation. Two carved red lacquer writing brushes complete the set.
The surface and sides of the lacquered tray are carved with different geometric patterns, while the table has four curved feet and sculpted sides decorated with deeply carved lotus scrolls in typical Edhrim-period style.
The Poem - Prose-poem on How Autumn Gives Chrysanthemums Their Fine Colours
Scroll (designed to be hung as decoration). Green and black ink border and gold leaf calligraphy on deep red paper (dyed at manufacture, not washed as part of the artwork). It is on ash rods with carved (sheep) bone furniture in the shape of little hands (holding the scroll itself and the cord from which it is hung). Also a tubular carrying case made from three layered blue lacquered birch bark with horse hair tasselled blue lacquered (matching) stoppers carved from the same oak root.
This scroll of calligraphy was executed in the 42nd year of the Emperor Burrucal II’s reign. It is a transcription of a poem by the Maranga-period Young Kingdom (Kalkhur) poet Chenghi, entitled ‘Prose-poem on How Autumn Gives Chrysanthemums Their Fine Colours’, a twelve-line verse of five characters to a line. The chrysanthemum, also known because it flowers in September as the ‘ninth month flower’, was famously beloved of the Celebrinoth as it was associated with the end of the campaigning season. The poem reads:
Along Prefect Tankhi’s fence,
‘A song of chrysanthemums by Chenghi of the Tanithil, written in the style of Càma.’
Edhrim did not limit himself to any particular school when he studied specimens of calligraphy, but applied himself equally to emulating masters from throughout the classical traditions of the disparate peoples of the Empire. It is recognised that he was particularly successful at writing in the style of the Càma.
This piece of calligraphy, which according to the inscription was done after the Celenic Gwaithor, features robust, attenuated characters composed of bold, clearly defined strokes. As a whole, the piece does evoke the naturalism and freedom of Gwaithor calligraphy, demonstrating that (the future Emperor) Edhrim did indeed capture something of the spirit and flavour of Càma calligraphy.
A Chest of original papers (loose leaf and folding book)
The chest (2’ by 1’ by 1’) is of Dyr Wood and has ithinilur fittings. There is no lock, however someone with no Nostir blood will not be able to open the clasps that secure the lid. The chest has four feet carved like those of the Griffin. There is a large slash in the lid, obviously old as the patina of time indicates. It does not puncture the lid. The writings inside are most likely the personal diaries of Veronwë Gwathlo (nee Ario) who was Feanor’s shield-man from their days as Bathamîr until Veronwë’s death at the Dagor Tarsil. Most of the material is notes on feeding, manning rosters and troop dispersal. However, there are also notes on his hobby subject, religion in amongst the Baklunish:
In a state with a multitude of different peoples religious belief and practice were necessarily diverse. Animistic shamanism, the original belief-system of the Manoh, was practised alongside elementally influenced zen-based self improvement. Middle Kingdom Court ritual was essential to their legitimacy. There were two major types of ritual. The first comprised offerings made to dead rulers by their descendants. Offerings were made to spirit tablets that were set on thrones and meant to embody the dead ancestor. The other major group of rituals involved seasonal and annual offerings at the altars of Heaven, Earth, Sun and Moon, Agriculture and Silk.
Counting rods and the abacus have been the main mechanical calculating aids available to Nostir mathematicians since ancient times. In Hisra during the campaigns there, a Perran mathematician named Jonnas Knap invented a method of performing arithmetical operations by manipulating rods printed with numbers. The rods were often made of bone. His technique essentially reduced complicated multiplication and division problems to addition and subtraction. The introduction of numbers onto counting rods in Hisra, based on ‘Knap’s Bones’, followed soon afterwards and for some time seem to have been in fairly wide use. This particular calculator has ten copper rods, each with a six-toothed gear, two middle ones in between the two on the top, and two on the bottom, so that pairs of rods can move in conjunction. It is just under a foot long and made of Ash. Not only can this machine perform multiplication and division but it can also calculate squares, cubes, square roots and cubic roots.