March 2018 – Jewish

Then Miryam the Prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went after her in dance with timbrels, and Miryam chanted for them: Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously… the horse and the rider He has hurled into the sea.  (Shir Miryam, the song of Miryam)

Calligraphy and Illumination by Mistress Sunniva Ormstung

Persona:  12th century, Norse father, Jewish mother

Why did you choose this culture?  Echoes reality.

What is the inspiration for your piece and why did it appeal to you?  I have always loved and admired Miryam, sister of Aaron and Moses.  She played a central role in saving the baby Moses and was a lively presence throughout the Exodus.  Also, she was known as a prophetess, a rare title for a woman.

This should be seen as an illustration for passover.

The passage I used describes the scene at the red sea, and the song that she sang in praise of the salvation of her people.  Great stuff, although I have always been sorry for the horses.  The prophets were not fond of horses, but one must remember that horses were the tanks of that day.

Materials used:  Japanese sumi colors, transparent watercolor, and gouache. Also india ink.

Other notes of interest about your piece:  Wild as it may seem all the weird animals , etc. in the large Hebrew letters of Miryam’s name are copied from various manuscripts!  Who could make them up!

What drew you to participate in this project?  Sounded like fun.

What is your favorite medium to work in? For scrolls the colors mentioned above.  In general, oils.

What is a C&I technique that is challenging to you, or not your favorite? I have a love/hate relationship with gold leaf.  It looks great when it done, but sometimes I have more of it on my eye lashes then on the paper.

What is a piece of advice you would give a new scribe?  Look through a lot of ms. and find a style that you might be able to copy.  Don’t start with the most complicated style.  Grow into it.  If you have trouble with the human form choose earlier ms.  with simpler drawing of people or stick to flowers or, if you are very mathematical try some of the geometric borders.   And it is not “cheating” to trace things, nor to use a ruling pen and triangle to get clean edges.

Remember this is a game…and enjoy