How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life…
Death is treated in many different ways in different cultures, and by different people. Some treat it with utmost reverence, others ignore it and treat it as taboo, still others choose to fear it, while some prefer to celebrate the life before it. How a culture reacts to this is just as important as any other component of your wider society; in fact it can tell more about a culture than anything else.
Bookbinding is certainly an old craft; so old that there is no way to ascertain where it originated. This is a art form that has evolved from clay tablets, scrolls, papyrus and cloth, to sheepskin in bound volumes, the Gutenberg’s printing press in 1447 and finally to automated binding machines. Certainly this is an evolving art, that is built from techniques from a variety of cultures and civilizations.
For a Writer, it’s good to know a little about the different styles, methods and materials of Book Binding; If only to make the civilisation you are trying to build more tangible.
Each style of binding speaks of the culture and level of Book Binding Technology that they currently hold.
TE: Which style, or particular method of Bookbinding would you consider to be the easiest, or quickest way? How many different styles do you know?
Derek: I think that multi-section Coptic bindings have the most utility and therefore are the easiest worthwhile style. I generally call these link stitch bindings because that is what I learned to call them. I know several styles, most of which are variations of the link stitch and traditional flat (hard) spine bindings.
TE: If you needed to make a book that needed to withstand as much time as possible, what materials and method would you be inclined to use?
Derek: I would be inclined to use only the most advanced technologies to make a book out of gold-plated copper, aluminum, and other archival materials kind of like the Voyager Golden Record. It too would be launched into space and could theoretically exist for many billions of years traveling the cosmos. Its contents would share a few of our greatest achievements with our alien friends. Some sort of “up dog” joke would be included, of course, along with the Coca-Cola secret recipe.
TE: On average, how long would it take to create a book, fom conception to the final product?
Derek: A simple, blank link stitch book takes a couple hours of work. This is after keeping the text block in the book press for a couple hours or overnight. Sculptural books and books with original prints (letterpress, lithographic, etc.) can take a considerable amount of time like weeks to complete.
TE: What tools do you use/ what tools do you plan on buying in the future?
Derek: The most important tool is the bone folder. I also use a handmade book press, a variety of sewing needles, brushes for PVA glue, a ruler, and razor blades. The bookbinding tools I use are quite basic. I plan on obtaining many more tools in the future. I want an arbor press but that’s not really for books.
TE: There’s an old myth that all Bookbinders have stained and scratched/cut hands from their craft, how true is this?
Derek: I have always had soft, smooth hands. It’s a bit weird actually.
Divination is the is the attempt to gain insight about a question, situation or the future, by a method of occultic process or ritual.
It has been used in various forms for thousands of years. Diviners ascertain their interpretations of how something should proceed by reading signs, events, or omens, or through alleged contact with a supernatural force.
It is generally held, that the difference between divination and fortune-telling, is that divination has a formal, ritual and often social aspect, usually in a religious context.
Fortune-telling is a more casual everyday practice for personal purposes. Particular divination methods vary by culture and religion.
Historically, fortune-telling grows out of folkloristic reception of Renaissance magic, specifically associated with ”Gypsies”. However, the term Gypsy is considered to be a racist slur and it is a racist notion to associate Roma, Chicanere, Walking People or travellers with stereotypical magic.
As a result, you must desist in creating “Gypsy Magicians” and similliar stereotypes. It is highly offensive to those who are oppressed by it.
*If after reading this section still think it is acceptable, I urge you to read up on the history of the Roma and Chicanere People. If you still think it is acceptable after that, then put down your pen and desist from writing.
Examples of Omens are documented occurrences of strange births, the tracking of natural phenomena, and other data. This can also be seen to be the very basis of scientific enquiry, though the scientific community largely dismisses the idea of Omens.
Omens can be considered either good or bad depending on their interpretation. The same sign can be interpreted differently by different people or different cultures.
Ornithomancy: This is the divination through the flight and cries of birds. In Ancient Rome, Augurs, were employed for this role.
Hepatomancy:This is the reading of animal entrails. In Ancient Rome, Haruspices made animal sacrifice to obtain the entrails. (Note: Ancient Mesopotamian Physicians also used this technique to diagnose Patients.)
Ailuromancy: This is divination using cats’ movements or jumps to predict future events, especially the weather.
Alectryomancy: This is a form of divination in which the diviner observes a bird, several birds (or most preferably a white rooster or cockerel) pecking at grain (such as wheat) that the diviner has scattered on the ground.
The observer may place grain in the shape of of letters and discern a revelation by noting which letters the birds peck at, or the diviner may interpret the pattern left by the birds’ pecking in randomly scattered grain. Alternatively, the observer tethers the bird in the centre of a circle, around the perimeter of the alphabet is marked with a corresponding piece of grain. For each grain the bird pecks, the observer writes down the letter that it represents. The observer also replaces each grain as the bird eats it, so that letters may be repeated. The sequence of letters recorded will presumably contain a message.
Myomancy: This is a method of divination with rats or mice; their particular cries or some marked devastation committed by them was taken for a foretelling of evil.
Myrmomancy: Thisis the practice of divination from the observed behavior of ants, usually from their eating behavior.
In Astrology, solar and lunar eclipses, the appearance of comets and the full moon have often been considered omens of notable births, deaths, or other significant events throughout history.
This is the method of Divination through the of the casting of lots, or sortes, with dice, cards, leaves, sticks, stones, bones, beans, coins, or some other item. Modern playing cards and board games developed from this type of divination.
Astragalomancy: This is a form of divination that uses dice specially marked with letters and numbers. Originally, the “dice” were quadruped knucklebones or other small bones. The Dalai Lama is said to use the Mo Divination; balls of dough in which have been placed pieces of paper with possible “choices” written on them, to help in making important decisions.
Favomancy: This is a form of divination that involves throwing beans on the ground and interpreting the patterns in which the beans fall. This used to be practised by seers in Russia, in particular, among the Ubykh. Since the decimation and erasure of the Ubykhs, details of exactly how Ubykh soothsayers interpreted the patterns formed by the beans are lost.
Ifá: Is the system of divination and the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odú Ifá, originating in West Africa.
Merindinlogun: This is a cowrie-shell divination method practiced in the Yoruba religion, and of several Afro-American religions derived from it, that uses sixteen cowrie shells.
Runic Magic: This is the divination through use of runes. In addition to being a writing system, runes historically served purposes of magic.
This is the use of books in divination. The method of employing sacred books (especially specific words and verses) for ‘magical medicine’, for removing negative entities, or for divination is widespread in many religions of the world.
Any corrections, thoughts, feelings or comments can be directed to;
Tea is among the eldest and most revered beverage in all of history. In our modern world, it is the most popular drink, next to water. Today, there are more than 1,500 types of teas to choose from, due to the fact that over 25 countries cultivate tea as a plantation crop.
For nearly 5,000 years Tea has been a source of medicine, meditation, piracy, political upheaval, social order, congregation, and superstition. While Tea has played many roles in Eastern and Western civilization, it is derived from a plant native to Central and Eastern Asia.
There are few basic types of Tea; Black (known as “Red” Tea in China), Green, White, Oolong and Pu-erh. The process used to prepare the leaves establishes the Tea’s further classification. Oxidation determines its colour, body, and flavour.
For example, in Black Teas, the leaves are withered, rolled, sifted, and fermented. This creates a hearty flavor and rich amber colour.
Green Tea leaves are fired shortly after harvesting to prevent fermentation, yielding a greenish gold colour and a delicate taste.
White Tea is a selection of the youngest and most tender leaves and buds. They are covered in fine white hairs and have a very delicate flavour. White tea is lightly fermented.
Pu-erh Tea is the strongest and most bold flavour tea. It is aged for many years and is referred to as a true “black” or “post-fermented.” Good quality pu-erh comes in cakes or bricks. Usually cakes are the higher quality because the Chinese preferred the aesthetics and auspiciousness of the round shape. The bricks usually contain more broader tea leaves, since broader leaved produce a nice, full flavour.
Finally, Oolong Tea leaves are withered, rolled, twisted, and semi-fermented, producing a colour and flavour that falls between that of black and green teas.
Though designated as Teas, Herbal teas are not actually made from any tea leaves. Instead, these contain peels, flavourings, grasses, berries, flowers and leaves from a variety of plants.
There are many Health Benefits of Tea, it can;
When and who “discovered it?
This is a complex question.
According to Chinese legend, Emperor Shen Nong who revered for his knowledge of agriculture and medicine, decreed (presumably for health reasons.) that his subjects boil water before drinking it.
While a servant prepared his water one day, a light wind deposited several tea leaves into his boiling pot.
The aroma enticed Shen Nong to sample the pot’s contents.
At once he found the flavor to his liking and his body rejuvenated. (Other versions of the tale cite that the source of the tea leaves was not from a tree above the pot, but rather from a camellia branch which was fueling the flames below it.)
Others attempting to validate the authenticity of the event by affixing a date to Shen Nong’s experience, assert that it occurred in either 2737 BC or 2690 BC.
The Buddhist chronicle of the creation of tea follows the religious pilgrimage of Siddhartha Gautama. ( A Nepalese prince and historic founder of Buddhism.)
Siddhartha who was eager to prove his faith travelled to China, pledging to forego sleep during his travels.
Exhausted after days of travel, Siddhartha breached his vow and slept.
When he awoke he cursed his eyelids and promptly removed them and threw them to the ground.
The eyelids quickly buried into the soil and within moments sprouted a tea bush. Siddhartha partook in the leaves of the bush, and immediately his tired body was replete with energy.
It is very well possible that neither story is in fact correct, and that these events didn’t occur. The important thing to be noted, is that both the Chinese and Buddhists respectively, regarded Tea to such a high standard that they both formulated creation stories around it.
Considering Tea initially used as an antidote to the effects of alcohol, it is not surprising that such mythical tales of tea’s beginnings were formed.
Why is this so important?
Tea can be a wonderful addition to a story. It can show a serenity of a character, or a habit that adds to the tapestry of a characterisation.
However, many people are used to drinking Tea from Teabags. While this is common, and even typical for a character who lives in a modern age, a character who lives in a different age will make Tea in a completely different way. In fact, a character from a different age will also have different effects that our modern Life usually negates.
A you can see, there are many dual uses for Tea, which many societies have taken advantage of. This is a form of recycling, and convenience that are incredibly useful.
The way that a character prefers their Tea, the process and equipment they use and their attitude towards it, is incredibly important. Every part of this can directly be related back to their experiences, family and customs. Without using an entire book, you can give an insight about a society.
What do you mean?
For a dedicated Tea Drinker that arises from a society that places a great importance on Tea, considerations such as size and shape of the pot needs to be matched to the size and shape and behaviour of a type of tea. This will make a difference in maximizing the flavour.
Having a separate pot exclusively for each kind of tea is also recommended, for example, a green tea pot, a black tea pot, an oolong pot, etc.
This is the Chinese method of making tea. This is due to the way they make Tea, which is often in quick steepings. This method maximizes the flavour and cost of your tea. By using steeping quickly (5-30 seconds, depending on the tea) and using many drawings (7-20, depending on the tea).
Sipping tea in small cups is also recommended for greater quality and appreciation of flavour. For those who wish to drink tea from a larger mug, you can do two or three quick steepings into your mug and save the leaves for more drawings later.
With most Western tea drinkers, the norm is steeping in a large teapot or mug. Unfortunately, you also need more hot water in order to draw any flavour from the leaves, and increasing the steeping time. The chances of oversteeping is increased, and the potential for extra drawings from the leaves are decreased.
The Porous nature of clay, makes Clay Teapots ideal. Each drawing leaves the tea dry and fresh, so moisture and mold does not make the tea taste stale. Because you are steeping for a shorter period of time, (even with bold teas like pu-erh) there is less of a danger of producing a bitter taste due to oversteeping.
Glazed pots, porcelain pots and metal tea pots are also a challenge in “authentic” tea making since they are non-porous materials.
Heat retention and control is difficult. Great tasting tea needs oxygen and Non-porous tea pots reduce the amount of oxygen that tea can absorb, thereby reducing flavour.
1. Warm and sterilize the pot, strainer and drinking cups – starting with all your tea supplies on your tea tray, pour your hot water into your yixing tea pot full and overflowing, including the lid, to warm the pot. Douse the entire outside of the pot as well. Also douse the strainer and drinking cups. Discard all the hot water onto the tray.2. Rinse the tea – put your measured amount of tea leaves (1-3 tablespoons, depending on the type of tea) into your tea pot and fill with hot water, overflowing the brim until the water runs clear. Place the lid on and pour out the rinse tea water. Open the lid to let heat escape so it doesn’t cook the leaves.3. The first steeping – pour hot water into the tea pot until overflowing. Place on the lid. Steep for 5-10 seconds, depending on the type of tea being made. While it’s steeping with the lid on, pour a little more hot water over the outside of the tea pot to retain the heat. When ready, pour the steeped tea into a “fair cup” through a strainer. The fair cup will be used to pour the tea into the drinking cups.
The fair cup evenly distributes tea to your guests. Since pouring for multiple drinkers results in the first guest receiving tea quite weak and the last guest receiving tea quite strong with varying degrees of strength in between, the fair cup is where the entire drawing from the pot is poured into. From the fair cup, you have a homogenous strength of tea for everyone to enjoy, thereby making it “fair” for everyone.
4. Repeat steepings many times. As I’ve mentioned, good quality tea might cost more upfront, but using quick steeping methods really helps you get your money’s worth from your tea since you can do many drawings. You can do about seven drawings for green tea and 15-20 for black teas.
Any corrections, thoughts, feelings or comments can be directed to;
Cartography is the is the study and practice of making maps. This combines science, aesthetics and skill, to build on the idea that reality can be modelled in a way that can convey spatial information easily. That is; information about the physical world can be clearly displayed in a way that most people can understand. Maps.
The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are commonly held to be:
Maps are important, as they are a universal medium for communication. They can be easily understood and appreciated by most people, regardless of language, culture or background.
Older maps can give an understanding of what was known in the time period it was created; as well as the philosophy and cultural basis of the map, which are often much different from modern cartography.
Maps are the method in which the Scientists of a generation pass on their knowledge.
Which brings us onto the topic of Maps in Novels.
When an Author creates a map to better understand the land and/or world they are creating and exploring, most tend to create a map that mimics the modern day type that simply shows the outline of continents, rivers and political boundaries.
Another form of map-making is to emphasis the importance of each location, rather than relative size. Lakes and Rivers that were an important part in a society would be enlarged to denote their importance, while others could have been omitted all together.
These important places could also have symbols denoting the reason as to why they are important. These types of maps are known as Economic or resource maps. This map type features the type of natural resources or economic activity that dominates an area. Cartographers use symbols to show the locations of natural resources or economic activities. For example, the a crossed axe and pick can denote mining, while a wheat sheaf can denote farming.
Other map types include; Climate, Physical, Political, Road and Topographic.
Aside from the obvious fact that the type of map used will cast an idea of the type of society that made it, the shape of the map itself also tells a lot about a culture.
Regardless of what a map displays, it is noticeable that human behaviours always takes precedence.
In short, it is their knowledge that the map represents. What you should ask yourself, if that whose knowledge does a particular map show?
When talking about modern-map, in the “real-world” it is clear that we do not have access to an omniscient perspective. What we have are source materials and familiar surveying techniques. The rest is complete speculation.
Cartographers and scholars of cartography now accept that map embed our political dispositions and socio-economic circumstances like any other text.
Even though we have Google Earth and GPS, we set specific agendas for what we wish to represent, and how.
Only superficially are maps ever “objective” views of the land.
-Any corrections, thoughts, feelings or comments can be directed to;
Quills hold a special place in literature. Our modern day culture has romanticized them into a magical and mysterious way of writing that speaks of class, elegance and of an era far gone.
Though it is very common to read of quills in books, few writers seem to understand how to use them. This can lead to an improper usage that makes those who use quills shudder at the way they are depicted in books.
If you were to treat a quill, the way a character in ‘Harry Potter’, for example, does- your quill would last a few minutes at most.
Fun Fact: In the Civil War, 12 quills were issued every quarter to each person for normal stationary usage. Quick math reveals that the average life expectancy for a quill was one week.
How to Make a Quill
(This medieval method of Quill-making is simple, but requires a small amount of practice before you achieve a good result. )
You will need a Feather and a small, sharp knife.
When using a quill, the lighter you press the better. A good practise is to ‘draw” small circles on your hand, without ink. When you can do this without leaving indentations, you’re using the correct pressure. The pressure that most people use when using a pen is much much too hard.
How much Ink do I use?
Only a small amount, enough to get a few letters, or a single word done. Scrape off any excess ink, and try not to rush the ink.
Also- be patient. This ink will set slower than modern pens. It can even take a couple of minutes to dry.