Friday, July 25, 2014

That Ol' Time Religion

Here's the start of the Viking-age Mythos project.  Conceptually, I'm aiming for a collection of items that a 10th century Norse cultist would have on hand.  The centerpiece is Fox Henderson's excellent Norse Cthulhu idol. Frankly, the pictures don't do it justice. It's a beautiful sculpt and the piece has a really nice heft to it.

The coins are hand-struck reproductions of period examples ranging from Middle Eastern Dirhems to Viking silver pennies. They're based on documented examples recovered from buried Viking hoards.  A black wash will bring out the details of the coin faces.

The amber Elder Sign is the polymer clay test piece I mentioned last week.  It does a good job of replicating the look of the real stuff and I plan on doing a number of small faux-amber items.  The Elder Sign is just a stand-in at this point, since it obviously makes no sense for a cultist to have one. 

The flint and steel are, well, flint and steel.  C-shaped strikers are period, but I'm going to try and track down one with some interesting ornamentation. 


choctawgh said...

Hi, this looks awesome. Where did you get the coins?

gndn said...

Where'd you get the coins? Alpha Officium?

CoastConFan said...

I see you are working towards a New World Viking hoard. You need a soap stone box to house your goodies. Flint strikers go from the plain types to some very sophisticated decorated strikers. It’s nice to see modern blacksmiths reproducing them these days. Most iron age and later cultures used strikers at one point or another in their history. It beats using friction or waiting for lightening to strike. Then again, I am partial to the fire piston as an ingenious method for making fire.

The best one stop shop for Viking fire strikers:

bea said...

I reccomend a "seax" or "sax" knife. Even a small one, it was the "jacknife" of the viking age. And some silver (prefferably hammered) jewelry. Vikings had a real THING for silver. They STOLE everything they could get their hands on but they seemed to trade, or sell the gold and keep the silver.

Propnomicon said...

@ choctawgh and gndn

It is indeed the Viking set from Alpha Officium. Simply outstanding work.

@ CoastConFan

Thanks for those links. The "Viking Answer Lady" page is going to cost me money. I saw those rock crystal firestarters and started to drool.

@ bea

I've been trying to find a small knife, but the prices for hand forged ones are a bit intimidating. I may order one of the junk "medieval" knives from Pakistan and re-handle it.

bea said...

If your any good with metals just swing down to Lowes or whatever, buy a pice of steel cut the characteristic "end" of the knife. Grind a quick edge on it, heat it, beat it with a hammer a few times (to give it a forged look) and knock out some quick scales outta wood. Throw the whole thing in a jug of rocks, yumble it for awhile to beat it up, oil/wax the wood scales and that should do it. Whole thing only needs to be 4-5 inches. These were the "pocket knife" version of the big stickers for battle.

bea said...

Hell, I'LL do it. Email me an address to mail it to, it'll only take a day or so. I'd do it just to contribute to the work.

bea said...

Also add a "mead horn" or a horn cup, but an actual horn would look cooler. They're not too expensive.

Propnomicon said...

@ Bea

Thank you for the very kind offer. I can't seem to find an email address in your profile.

A horn cup would make a great addition. I was also considering using some small horn tips as containers to hold spell components and sealing them with a wad of raw wool.

The Last Northumbrian said...

Instead of a horn, you could use a birka glass- very pretty bits of glassware.
If you plan on a knife, use a 'broken-backed' style- with a relatively straight cutting edge and a wide-angled back. Searching for a seax in Google will bring up plenty of examples.
Fire strikers were sometimes used as decorative leather pouch fasteners. That could be a nice way of making a container for the assemblage.
Whetstones were a key part of Viking personal equipment too, ranging from a small personal piece of slate up to sceptre-like ceremonial pieces. Perhaps a rune-carved one, or one with suspect staining?
(Viking archaeology and reenactment is kind of my thing...)

CoastConFan said...

Don’t forget to add a few Islamic Dirhams to your hoard. The Vikings had a good deal of trade down south along with sacking a bit. Heck they even were mercenaries for the Byzantines when they weren’t fighting them (look up the Varangian Guard and the Rus-Byzantine War).

Michael Crighton’s Eaters of the Dead was based on such accounts, most notably that of ibn Fadlan. When I read the book in the late 70s, it ignited an interest in early Islamic travelers accounts. There are a lot of them. If Eaters of the Dead doesn’t come close to a Mythos-based idea in the north, then nothing does. You new friend, has a pretty good set of quotes from ibn Fadlan translated to English. So your Cthulhu Viking hoard has a good deal of standing both in history and in the Mythos.

Your Cthulhu figure works out well as a hoard item as a 6th century Indian Buddha turns up in a Viking burial, now known as the Helgo Buddha. Who knows how many years of trade it took for the object to migrate?

Anonymous said...

That´s really a very interesting collection, and I really like this particular C´thulhu idol´s style.

Some remarks about knifes: The "forged" look is not authentical at all. Blades were nearly always quite even and often polished. You have to keep in mind that items like small knifes were important tools, which were often used everyday, sometimes for generations. Such things were usually made at high quality to work well and long, and this tools were also not that inexpensive. So if you wanted to sell or buy a knife, you wanted something of good quality, what included usually a polished blade. Polished blades are also more resistant against corrosion. There are some few exceptions, but in general old knifes had no tool marks at all. If you see modern reproductions of old blades which do have tool marks, this is mainly the result of two things. At first, many modern hobby bladesmiths are simply not good enough to avoid too strong tool marks. But furthermore, polishing blades is really painstaking work. Forging can be great fun, but polishing is just annoying, even for small blades. Another factor is of course that we expect tool marks in old stuff, because it looks more rustic.
Many years ago I made also a mid-sized seax which you can see here:
It isn´t forged but made from a thick sheet of steel. It still has some tool marks, because the original sheet was not fully plain, and I had to even it with a hammer, and later I didn´t polished the blade enough to remove them fully.

There are also some other viking items which could possibly fit into such a collection, like small glas pearls(ok, that´s more something associated with viking women).

Markus said...

Oh damned, totally forgot to add my name on the last comment...

Ministry Minion said...

A quick look gave me this model for a pouch:

And another look gave me this link, to what seem to be result from archaeological digs from viking-era graves:
Google's translation tool will come in handy.

Markus said...

When I mentioned exceptions of knifes which actually have tool marks, I had especially something like this in mind:

This small utility knifes were forged from a single piece of steel, without any additional handle.

Barry John said...

That steel is hot! After that polymer greenstone idol you made a while ago I honestly thought it was clay too. thumbs!