Monday, August 20, 2012

Who Took The Time?

"It boggles my mind that people today think that the same exact people who built castles and pyramids never wore more than a rectangular sack with a belt! I'm highly amused.  "They wouldn't have taken the time" seems to be the excuse.
No, YOU don't want to take the time.
Totally different."

1408, Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, December

There are works of art that just keep coming back to me as stunning examples of fiber manipulation.  Yet I'm supposed to believe that the same people who built The Seven Wonders of The Ancient World, just threw a rough and ragged bit of fabric over their shoulders & called it good?  That when the average person owned 4-10 outfits*  "they wouldn't have taken the time" to make their clothes:
1: last
2: fit
3: be of good quality or repair
4: look good
*(insert violent debate here)

This is nonsense! 
We know these people had a vast store of knowledge in areas that we scarcely remember today.  Jobs "then" were just as diverse & specialized as jobs today, and often passed along family lines, with children learning the skills of their trade from Parent's Knee, and then passing that knowledge on to their offspring.  That is a lot of specialization, practice, advancement, technical skill & care for a trade/craft.  Even accounting for continuity in styles there will be an improvement in an individual's skill over time - because they were human like us with the same ability to learn, and "Practice Makes Perfect," etc.

If you can't imagine doing "all that on top of everything else those people did just to survive," either your self-confidence is too low or you have an over-inflated idea of what "all that" really was - and a serious case of Modern Ethnocentrism.  People did not live a single-handed existence, they were part of a community that worked together to accomplish amazing things.

1408, Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, June
(Because Poor People Only Wore Sacks...)

No single man built the pyramids, and no single woman clothed a nation from sheep to gown.

One of the things that most modern people say when they look at old paintings or come to reenactments is "gee, I wish we could dress like that every day!" The implication being that folks of yesteryear look infinitely better than our Zero Time, off-the-rack, single-layer sacks of today.  (Please note: not all modern clothes are ugly).
The issue comes in when we, as modern people, find out exactly how long it takes to make something like that... how much effort, how much time, how much material, how high the cost, how l-o-n-g it takes to get dressed; and so we assume that because we are not capable of that ourselves* that no one was ever capable of it. 
Please, buy another cultural lie & I'll sell you a bridge in Brooklyn... which was not built by one man alone, just so you know.
*Don't want to...

1790, Henry Singleton, The Alehouse Door
(This cap is not "Just a circle" - Trust me...)

Am I saying that there were never people who did things slap-dash?  No.  Of course there were people like that, people are the same through time, and some of us just don't care about certain things... but that doesn't mean that we don't care about anything - we take the time to care about the things we think are worth our time, dedication & effort, and we excel at them; or at least we should be.

(I will post pictures later... must go excel at sewing on a pink ruffle)...

Ummm... pretty piles of stone...
This is a great article on various castles in Finland.  Please note that the folks who built these couldn't possibly have thought of cutting anything other than hose on the bias.  <-- that was Sarcasm, folks.

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