When my friend Branwen approached me for ideas on what to do for her protege’s upcoming elevation for the Pelican, I panicked a little. I was familiar with doing Andalusian art from doing Catalina’s Laurel scroll, but text was going to stretch my knowledge base a bit. I also had plans to actually do the scroll, but I work in a tax preparation office in my modern life. This was a Bad Idea, and I am glad that another set of artists were able to pick it up and run with it. Their work is amazing. Violet and Ameline, thank you so very much!
Jaida’s persona is from 11th century Andalusia, during a time called La Convivencia, which was a time where the Abrahamic faiths lived together. It was also a time of poetry, music, and song, especially with those in Islamic Spain. So, my first stop was to go find some poetry from the area and time period. I also wanted to make sure I could allude to Pelicans, service, and food, since Jaida would become a Pelican because of the way she serves through her delicious food. (it all has a connection!) I also wanted to draw in the parts of her heraldry, which involve camels and a comet.
I don’t often suggest Wikipedia as a source, but in this case, Wikipedia helped me get a good idea of names of poets to look for. Names like Ibn Gabirol (a Jewish writer), Abu al-Waleed Ahmad Ibn Zaydún al-Makhzumi, and Wallada bint al-Mustakfi were great little rabbit holes to get lost in. The next part was finding appropriate English translations. Since I don’t read or write Arabic, finding scholarly translations to best copy a style was going to be key.
Many of the poems I listened through had a certain rhythm (that gets unfortunately gets lost in English), so I concentrated more on the descriptions and the way that something was described. And, since SCA scroll texts do this a lot, I did lift a portion (or two) from previously existing text. Of note is Ibn Gabirol’s “The Palace and the Garden,” translated from the Hebrew by Raymond P. Scheindlin, where I took “Birds were singing in the boughs” lines.
Below is her text. When the text is read, the last stanza of “But none, no, none can compare/To the righteousness/Of Jaida de Leon.” should be read twice. The title, though, does not get read.
Concerning the Works of the Righteous Jaida de Leon
On the backs of camels
Through the desert sands and
the vaulted mountains
Like ships cutting through a jewelled sea
Comes the riches of the righteous
Great are her works
Full of wonder and sustenance
Many are they who would
Shout the praises of the one
who comforts and would
So nourish her kingdom
The Caliph Ashir and the Calipha Ashland
spoke with counsel of their elders
those marked with snow-white birds
Who bled for their love
With accord Jaida, daughter of the sun
Would be elevated to their dignity
Like falcons soaring in the heavens
The rising star danced in elation
in sable-black skies
Her home made on the flat place
Chambers constructed, adorned with carvings,
open-work and closed-work,
paving of alabaster, paving of marble,
With gates uncountable!
In this lofty palace, Jaida sits
treetops fresh and sprinkling,
and everything was fragrant as spices,
everything as if it were perfumed with myrrh.
Birds were singing in the boughs,
peering through the palm-fronds,
and there were fresh and lovely blossoms –
rose, narcissus, saffron –
each one boasting that he was the best,
(though we thought every one was beautiful).
The narcissuses said, “We are so pure
we rule the sun and moon and stars!”
The doves complained at such talk and said,
“No, we are the princesses here!
Just see our neck-rings,
with which we charm the hearts of men,
dearer far than pearls.”
But none, no, none can compare
To the righteousness
Of Jaida de Leon.
Done on Rajab 29, 1439, As-Sabt, or as our ancestors calculated, April 14th, Anno Societatis 52 by Ashir and Ashland in the shire of Oakheart.