Small articulated encyclopedia of women in History

As I promised, today, we meet Elena of Tuttosicrea, she, besides being a connoisseur and scholar of plants and dyeing methods, is  Historian of Medieval History  and codicologist. Speaking with her the idea of the 

"Small articulated encyclopedia of women in history" is born.


Hi Elena and welcome back here on Pupillae's blog!

In the interview I had with you about two years ago I asked you what projects you had for 2018 and to date I think you have done them all! Do you want to tell us briefly?


Almost all of them, yes. I have not yet completed my manual, but I am a bit justified: in fact I was very busy making the other big project, the farmhouse! [editor's note: Elena moved to Umbria in a beautiful farmhouse in Castiglione del Lago in the province of Perugia. I will tell you when your business will start and you can reach her to stay in the farmhouse and participate in the activities.]


Finally my business will have an adequate space to work, cultivate dyeing plants, host interesting courses and events. In fact, the collaborations have never stopped, rather they have grown and I would still like to expand them by offering a space for the exchange of knowledge and arts to colleagues and students.

The beautiful view of the Umbrian hills that can be admired from Elena's farmhouse
The beautiful view of the Umbrian hills that can be admired from Elena's farmhouse


We had already mentioned, in the previous interview, your training as a medieval historian and codicologist. During your quarantine, these characteristics of yours led us to think of a project that combines your skills as a historian with mine as a character creator. How did happen the interest in history that led you to choose that course of study?


Saying interest is really an understatement: the passion on fire, the mania, the total love for history would be more appropriate! Everything was born from my father: he was not only a great admirer of history, but he had also experienced an interesting part of it; his stories of childhood during the Second World War, of family members at the front, and then of the post-war period, the economic boom, politics ... fascinated me as and more than fairy tales.


I spent so many hours of childhood bent over the books of his large library of historical volumes, which I hold dear as the most precious memories today. At school I continued to love the subject, until in high school a brilliant, highly educated, fascinating teacher made me understand that history could also be a profession, and for sure that I could no longer do without it. So I enrolled in the university choosing this unusual and little known course of study, and I am still very happy with my choice.


The term "codicologist" is not so common, what does being a codicologist actually mean? And why did you choose the Middle Ages?


Codicology is a branch of history that deals with the codes, that is, with the manuscript books prior to the invention of printing: when the texts were copied entirely by hand, and required time and effort for their packaging, the books were valuable objects, in some cases even precious or very precious. Codicologists study the material aspect of the codes: the support - mostly parchment and paper -, the inks, the miniatures, the bindings. How were the pages sewn? What substances is ink made of? Is the parchment from sheep or calf? How was the line laid to write straight? And the copyist, is it always the same or has it changed at some point? Etc. A sort of "book archeology".


They may seem useless details, trifles, instead they are important details to understand the history of the book and especially of the people who lived around it: let's not forget that even the ancients were men and women in flesh and blood, not only vague characters no more real than a star of a movie.


 I did not choose the Middle Ages immediately: my three-year thesis was on military history, the period World War II! But then continuing with the specializations I oriented myself on other themes more similar to my sensitivity; in the meantime, I had also started to work dealing with incunabula and old books, so I landed at the Magistrale and subsequent improvements in a period slightly different from the one I started with years before.


The Middle Ages are the era of manuscript codices - we all have in mind the scriptoria with monks intent on copying, illuminating, binding - and a very long period of time, in which most of the techniques that are still at the base of our craft activities were developed and refined: among them the production of pigments, for the inks of copyists as well as for the dyeing of clothes, and it is there that my two passions met and gave birth to each other!


The idea we had together has the title "Small articulated encyclopedia of women in history". The first appointment will be soon on Instagram with Joan of Arc. Do you want to explain to our readers what it is?


We called our "Little encyclopedia" "articulated" like your dolls, because like them it will be able to move in different directions and probe different areas: encyclopedia because it will speak in the old way of dates, ancient events and characters, but it will be useful to various purposes, such as the deepening of an era, the rediscovery of a territory, the search for the roots and origins of phenomena today on the breach in the discussions and daily choices.


In it we will talk about women, who are the main protagonists of your works, and it will be told and implemented by women; until not long ago women were on the margins of historical investigation, and even in those few cases the figures were almost always narrated by men; even the scholars themselves dealt mostly only with "minor" sectors, such as the history of clothing or the ever-popular witchcraft, at most religious themes or in any case related to areas considered distinctly feminine such as marriage or children.


Here, too, things have changed here and there are historian women who deal with economic, military, science, institutions, in short, anything.


But we will not wink at an easy and superficial feminism on the wave of the fashion of the moment: we will not tell about women as opposed or superior to men, but about female people who have, also but not only because of their gender , given a change in the history of their time and, with the consequences of this, also contributed to forming how we are today.


The interviews will contain a brief review of the historical events of the protagonists, the analysis of a theme related to them, and will be in support of wood clay dolls, made for each of the women chosen, with reference also to symbolic elements historically significant in the choice of clothing or colors.


Are you a bit curious? We look forward to seeing you in the coming days for new updates.


Elena can be found on Instagram @tuttosicrea, on facebook Tuttosicrea and on her website tuttosicrea.com where you can also subscribe to her rich and always interesting newsletter.


Then there is me www.instagram.com/pupillae_art_dolls Instagram, on Facebook Pupillae and here!

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Commenti: 1
  • #1

    Katy Poenaru (giovedì, 18 giugno 2020 21:32)

    Fascinating! It's a wonderful encounter of story telling in both artful history and artful embodiment of the characters!

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