Welcome to The Phoenix Files!

This blog is a collection of papers and how-to articles I have written over the past 25+ years, as well as my travel journals and announcements.  Scholarly works from "The Library" on my old website, are labeled here as "Historica Tractatu." 

My travels have had heavy influence on my work and are the 'back story' behind many of my designs. Some of my older journals are revised from the original, and most link to photo albums on Facebook.  

Block Printing and its impact on textile and book arts

Posted by Gordon Ellis, also known as Gordon Redthorn on 8/13/2017 to Historica Tractatu
A playing card woodblockThis article was written by a friend of mine who recently passed away (July 2017).  It was originally self-published in "A Boke of Dayes: A Journal of the Festival of St. Hildegard" (1994)  I have augmented this article with photos from a photo essay and a catalog of his works that were part of his estate.

Gordon not only carved blocks, but taught carving and printing as well, and volunteered much of his time to the furtherance of this art form.  I hope this article will inspire others to continue on that path.

Textile as Literary Art

Posted by Heather Daveno, circa 1987 on 3/16/2016 to Historica Tractatu
A few days ago, I saw a call for submissions for Cloth -- a commonplace which asked for "a literary fragment from your reading that refers to cloth in some way."   You can read more about this project at this link. 

Once upon a time, I wrote poetry.  I never published, and did not keep most of my pieces.  While I was looking for a piece to submit to this project, I found this one in my files, which I wrote 29 years ago, on the eve of the Feast of St. Patrick. 

It is an excerpt from "Letters to a Squire" and describes clothing that might be worn by a Mongolian king or khan. I took my inspiration from a verse from Chaucer's "The Squire's Tale" which is quoted at the beginning of my piece.

Considering the Herb Mint and its Family

Posted by Heather Daveno, first published in 1984, revised ©2010 on 3/2/2016 to Historica Tractatu
When I first started this paper, I had planned to write about the herbs and flowers currently growing in my own garden, including elder, carnation, parsley, rose and mint.  When I came to mint and discovered how extensive the mint family was, I discarded all else and concentrated on members of this grouping only. 

Recipes noted in this article are from pre-17th century sources. Most illustrations are 18th century botanical illustrations.

Yurts Part I - History and Custom

Posted by Heather Daveno, ©1987, revised 2016 on 2/28/2016 to Historica Tractatu
Yurts Part I - History and Custom

The ger, or yurt as it is commonly called, is one of two forms of portable housing that have been used by Central Asian nomads for centuries, dating back to the Scythians.  The ger remains today as the primary form of portable housing on the Himalayan Plateau and the Central Asian Steppes.

My study of gers reflects their usage by the nomads of Tibet, Mongolia and China since the time of Marco Polo. 

Pan Chou, Woman Historian

Posted by Heather Daveno, copyright ©2000 on 2/24/2016 to Historica Tractatu

                            "The thoughts of the princely man

                            ought to be written down.

                            But why should one not voice his own opinion?

                            As we admire the ancients,

                            Every action of that virtuous one (my father)

                            Meant a literary creation…"

                                            From Dungzheng Fu (Traveling East)

                                            by Pan Chao

The Four Intelligent Creatures of China

Posted by Heather Daveno, ©1988, revised 2004 on 2/17/2016 to Historica Tractatu
The Four Intelligent Creatures of China

"What are the Four Intelligent Creatures?

           They are: the Unicorn, the Phoenix, the Tortoise, and the Dragon"

                                          from the  Li Ki (Book of Rites and Ceremonies)

So it has been said that these are the four spiritually endowed animals sacred to ancient China...

Names from the Secret History of the Mongols

Posted by Heather Daveno, compiled in 1988 on 8/25/2015 to Historica Tractatu

The Secret History of the Mongols was written for the royal Mongol family after the death of Chinghis Khan in 1227 AD. It details the history of the Mongol peoples from the birth of the first Mongol, Batachikhan, through the ascension of Ogodei Khan to the Mongolian throne. The Secret History is considered a primary source for the genealogy of the ruling families of Mongolia up to the beginning of the 14th century...

The Search for Prester John - Part 2

Posted by Heather Daveno, written in 1988 on 7/20/2014 to Historica Tractatu
Continued from Part 1, posted July 13, 2014...

The legend of Prester John was continued by European explorers and missionaries as they traveled through China. During the 3rd Crusade, John of Joinville, the chief chronicler for Louis IX of France, wrote of two envoys where were sent to Kuyuk Khan, bearing with them a chapel...

In Search of Prester John - Part 1

Posted by Heather Daveno, written in 1988 on 7/13/2014 to Historica Tractatu

As I was researching the wives of the Mongolian khans back in the late '80's, I ran across a reference to a tribe called the Kerait¹ - a Christian tribe of Turko-Eurasian ethnicity who had been absorbed by the Mongolian Federation of Tribes under Chinghis Khan during the 12th century.  The women of this tribe, with their auburn hair, fair skin and gray or green eyes, were so renowned for their beauty, that they are credited with saving their tribe from obliteration...

The Mongolian Invasions of Medieval Europe - Part 2

Posted by Heather Daveno, written in 1987 on 6/25/2014 to Historica Tractatu

"All warfare is based on deception….Feign disorder, and crush him. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected...."

-- from "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu

The Mongolian Invasions of Medieval Europe - Part 1

Posted by Heather Daveno, written in 1987 on 6/22/2014 to Historica Tractatu

My thanks to the editors of The Elf Hill Times, who first published my article in January, 1998 under the title "The Mongols: Their Attempt at World Domination". I have updated it to include notes from classes I taught in 1998-99 on "Warfare in Medieval Mainland Asia".

This work has been cited in an academic research paper titled "Challenges Facing Mongolia's Participation in Coalition Military Operations", written by Lt. Col. Byambasuren Bayarmagnai of the Mongolian Armed Forces, published by the U.S. Army War College in March 2005.

Endnotes and sources are at the end of Part 2.

Medicinal Teas of the East and West

Posted by Heather Daveno, written in 2005, revised on 4/20/2014 to Historica Tractatu
Medicinal Teas of the East and West
This article compares a selection of herbs which were used as medicinal teas in both Western Europe and Asia during the medieval period. I have included personal notes regarding color, smell and taste comparisons on those herbs which were available to me at the time that I wrote this article in 1985.

Names from the History of Archers

Posted by Heather Daveno, compiled in 2004 on 4/20/2014 to Historica Tractatu
This index is a list of names from The History of the Nation of the Archers by Grigor of Akanc, written in 1271 in Cilicia at Akanc' and preserved at the Armenian Convent of St. James at Jerusalem. The Armenian text was, translated by Robert D. Blake and Richard N. Frye. I located this work in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 2, No. 3-4, published by the Harvard-Yenching Institute in December 1949.

It is provided here as a resource for historians, heralds, historical reenactors and gamers.