Sunday, 19 June 2011

Becoming The Common Man/Woman.

Becoming The Common Man/woman.

Unless you are working in a living history museum, you are not likely to be interpreting a particular person from history; you are more likely to be interpreting a common character, the common woodsman, or a common Ranger etc. Although there were woods women, I very much doubt that they were as common as the woodsmen. Ann Bailey & Mrs Pentry would hardly be called common woods women, but woodsmen were very common & came in all classes, both poor in regard to woods lore & those that were extremely good, & quite a few in between.

You do not want to be a poor woodsman in regard to the skills, but you do need to start off being common. Later on others may class you as an uncommon woodsrunner in regard to your skills & knowledge, but that will be after you have had a good deal of experience. Even the common woodsrunner had freedom of choice, but there were items of clothing & equipment that were usually common to all. The common English or French work frock was worn by the majority of woodsrunners, men & women. Leggings were very common & were usually of the Indian style. Likewise woodland Indian moccasins were worn by the majority of people running the woods. Breeches or a breechclout, the choice is yours. Both were very common.

Beware of what you see in period paintings. Whilst this is considered to be very good primary documentation, some painters were known to glorify noted individuals by adding items that were not common usage. There are for instance paintings of Daniel Boone wearing a fur collared coat. Boone may have been an uncommon woodsman in regard to his intelligence & experience, but in every other regard he was still a common woodsman & is more likely to have worn the common English work frock than a fur collared coat. Sir John Caldwell was once painted wearing the clothing of an Ojibwe chief. The clothing is genuine I have no doubt, but this was not this gentleman’s common clothing at any time or in any place.

Here we see Daniel Boone with what appears to be fur on the top of his moccasins & he is holding a fur hat. It is well documented that Boone did not ware a fur hat & always wore a wide brimmed low crowned felt hat.

Sir John Caldwell, very fancy indeed. I believe that Sir john was an officer in the British army, and a certain book known to portray military dress has this painting as an example of an officer's dress in colonial America!

The author wearing a common frock coat at a winter solstice party.



Le Loup said...
"...you are not likely to be interpreting a particular person from history; you are more likely to be interpreting a common character..."

I am very pleased to read that -- although, not many people want to eat that, as I experienced. They find it neat to use the name of a historic personality, but at least they don't live the past consequently. They don't really experience--feel it that way.

Once I concentrated on nothing else than 17th/ 18th media: I read no other books than old ones (originals or reprints) and listened to nothing else but fitting Harmonia Mundi CD productions. And I wrote everything in that old language (I had even penfriends who were trying the same). It was possible over a few years -- I had not to make many concessions at that time. Of course I was after any image of old paintings, drawings &ct. ... After all you're happy with the 17th/18th century as you experience daily -- you don't need to use a dead persons name. You can be yourself in the past.

Yes, I see, that's actually what you're doing. :o)

Le Loup said...

Thank you Clarissa, some great feedback. Always a pleasure to read your comments.
Regards, Keith.