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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Off-set vs. vertical belt suspension on 12th. C. scabbards Reply to topic
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Apr, 2020 7:27 am    Post subject: Off-set vs. vertical belt suspension on 12th. C. scabbards         Reply with quote

I have become interested in folk's thoughts on whether off-set and/or vertical belt suspensions were used in the 12th. C. All of the illustrations I have seen show a vertical orientation.

Does anyone know of pictures of an off-set orientation being shown?







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Martin Kallander




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Apr, 2020 11:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think these roman soapstones might fit the bill, though they might not be that relevant if you're specifically looking for western stuff:






There are also some scabbards in Skylitzes that aren't paralel with the leg, here are a few of them:





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Maciej K.
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2020 5:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy, let me know what exactly you want to see / find in 12th century?
We can`t trust much artistic depictions at this case. Even in reality the scabbard will move more or less. That can be depicted in various ways. See on the pictures where is the lower belt around the scabbard - clear off set belting which MUST create an angle - and then you see both belts on the same level. that`s funny and these are just artistic manner or mistake. I have plenty images from 12th century, make swords and scabbards, try them, use them all the time.

the rule is like that:
the greater is the distance between the two belts, the larger will be the angle of inclination relative to the ground.
if the belts are close to each other side by side, then the scabbard hangs almost vertically.
then you have offset belting and at the same time can observe minimum - or no angle,. which looks as vertical.
the rest is about artistic interpretation and simplifications.

Medieval Swords - www.artofswordmaking.com
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2020 7:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maciej K. wrote:
Jeremy, let me know what exactly you want to see / find in 12th century?
We can`t trust much artistic depictions at this case. Even in reality the scabbard will move more or less. That can be depicted in various ways. See on the pictures where is the lower belt around the scabbard - clear off set belting which MUST create an angle - and then you see both belts on the same level. that`s funny and these are just artistic manner or mistake. I have plenty images from 12th century, make swords and scabbards, try them, use them all the time.

the rule is like that:
the greater is the distance between the two belts, the larger will be the angle of inclination relative to the ground.
if the belts are close to each other side by side, then the scabbard hangs almost vertically.
then you have offset belting and at the same time can observe minimum - or no angle,. which looks as vertical.
the rest is about artistic interpretation and simplifications.


Hi Maciej,

If I am interpreting the pictures of 12th. C. scabbards correctly I'm not seeing a split belt or two belts- only a single belt that might or might not split off but only to wrap around the scabbard.

I find the whole issue interesting. The idea of the vertical scabbard seems counter intuitive- I will give you that. I have a vertical scabbard that I am going to have adjusted as it is too loose but I can still tell it is pretty cumbersome compared to an off-set suspension. You need to use your left hand to push the hilt forward, thus raising it off the ground.

I am not sure we can really attribute the depiction of vertical scabbards in the 12th. C. to artistic convention though. Firstly, that sets the precedent of not being able to determine what is actual and artistic misrepresentation. Secondly a bit later in time we see clear depictions of off-set scabbards. Why would artists suddenly correctly depict scabbard suspension?

Thanks for contributing.
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Kai Lawson




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2020 8:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why not both? Or something adjustable? A quick peek through manuscriptminiatures.com shows a mix of vertical, offset and ambiguous scabbards. The Hylestad Stave Church carvings seem to imply an offset belt in as 'S' configuration, which carries out throughout the carvings. Neither of these sources is even close to exhaustive. Digital libraries are also good sources, as seen in the first 'Offset' image. Searching through manuscriptminiatures.com for the XI century shows a number of offset/angles scabbards, especially in some English and Spanish manuscripts. Fashion plays a big role in these things, but my guess is that you could find various suspensions depending on region, specific decade and personal or martial preference.

Verticle:
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4539/11282/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4111/12073/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4653/12310/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4889/14209/

Offset/Angled:
https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84526716/f14.highres
https://www.shutterstock.com/editorial/image-editorial/art-various-8527602a
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/5832/22746/ (the scabbard is vertical, but the belt is clearly offset).
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4129/12078/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4967/15395/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21731/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21730/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21732/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21733/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21734/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3966/11577/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3966/11579/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3966/11611/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3924/10756/

Ambiguous:
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4087/12054/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4087/12056/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4814/11894/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/5812/22555/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/5832/22744/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4670/12155/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4526/11341/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/5036/15737/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3966/11575/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3924/10762/

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Maciej K.
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 2:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:


Hi Maciej,

If I am interpreting the pictures of 12th. C. scabbards correctly I'm not seeing a split belt or two belts- only a single belt that might or might not split off but only to wrap around the scabbard.

I find the whole issue interesting. The idea of the vertical scabbard seems counter intuitive- I will give you that. I have a vertical scabbard that I am going to have adjusted as it is too loose but I can still tell it is pretty cumbersome compared to an off-set suspension. You need to use your left hand to push the hilt forward, thus raising it off the ground.

I am not sure we can really attribute the depiction of vertical scabbards in the 12th. C. to artistic convention though. Firstly, that sets the precedent of not being able to determine what is actual and artistic misrepresentation. Secondly a bit later in time we see clear depictions of off-set scabbards. Why would artists suddenly correctly depict scabbard suspension?

Thanks for contributing.


Jeremy, it wasn`t a sudden change. we consider today that detail as an important difference but that wasn`t an issue then for sure, especially for the arists illustrators. And yes, we can observe changing angle of the scabbards in manuscripts - that is for sure, but that was a process in time. In time artists just noticed the more common and popular angle, that became standard (Morgan Bible for example shows already all in new position, at an angle but different levels of belts are not clearly visible).
If you have a sword inside a scabbard in vertical position (earlier times) and you`d like to have the blade a bit longer (various types in time 11th-12th) then you start to think about the length and comfort and functionality. At the same time, you see the cavalry is more used and better steel is more widely available that you can actually have that longer blades (sorry for these "super-simplifications" just to mention some issues) Then, in time (not suddenly) you have longer blade, more horse riding, etc. Then, some craftsmen start to find new betling methods to make it more comfortable, stabilized and functional. Off set belt was a best solution, elegant, easy to make and simple.

In fact, off set belting with its capabilities was a great invention, probably somewhere at the end of 11th century.
It allows to fully stabilize the sword in scabbard on your hips, best for a rider and foot warriors as well.

Don`t trust too much manuscript depictions, really.
You can find big angle in some illustrations from 9th-10th and vertical position in some 15th century manuscripts. That doesn`t means it was intended to carry swords like that.
There are also some illustrations dated to 9th-10th century that could be interpreted as offset belting with position in angle (check: 800-825 Corbie Psalter, France or 820-830 Stuttgarter Psalter, 925 Leiden I Maccabees, Richenau, Germany - for example). But we can`t be sure due to imprecision and simplifications there.

Since around 1080 we can find "dragon`s tongue" binding belt (detailed sculptures: 1080-1178 - Église de Saint-Nectaire, France or 1100 - Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos, Spain. scabbards at clear angle but not visible wrapping on it - behind the warrior). That is also an important tip what actually kind of process is already started then and what is the purpose.

Medieval Swords - www.artofswordmaking.com
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 6:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, Kai, for your thoughts and images and thanks Maciej for your further thoughts on the issue.

I like that we have fleshed out the idea of the vertical and off-set scabbards during this period and it gives me much more to think about and research.
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 9:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry Kai
None of the examples that you presented as "offset/angled" scabbards depict an angled or offset suspension. In fact, you can't even really see the suspension with enough clarity to claim that the suspensions are angle or offset.

I think that the illuminated manuscripts ARE very reliable sources of pictoral information. A single illustration by itself may not be reliable, but when you look at multiple manuscripts from the same time period, and when you look at other details that are present in the drawings -- then you get a pretty good idea of how reliable the illuminations really are.

So far, no one has presented any convincing evidence that offset sword belts existed before AD 1200. I've heard a lot of people make claims to the contrary. But when I ask for evidence, no one can produce the evidence. Opinions are not facts.
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Martin Kallander




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 10:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:
Sorry Kai
None of the examples that you presented as "offset/angled" scabbards depict an angled or offset suspension. In fact, you can't even really see the suspension with enough clarity to claim that the suspensions are angle or offset.

I think that the illuminated manuscripts ARE very reliable sources of pictoral information. A single illustration by itself may not be reliable, but when you look at multiple manuscripts from the same time period, and when you look at other details that are present in the drawings -- then you get a pretty good idea of how reliable the illuminations really are.

So far, no one has presented any convincing evidence that offset sword belts existed before AD 1200. I've heard a lot of people make claims to the contrary. But when I ask for evidence, no one can produce the evidence. Opinions are not facts.

Why isn't the angle of the scabbard adequate evidence when the guy wearing it is stationary and not holding the scabbard? Why would the scabbards be angled backwards in those instances? Opinions are not facts, but you seem to be ignoring reality to draw this conclusion

In this one you can clearly see the belt terminate at the scabbard but clearly continue further up behind the shield, a design specifically used to make the scabbard rest at an angle:



How did you conclude that this doesn't show an angled scabbard!?


Edit*
Link to image for those who can't load it:
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/media/cache/m..._large.jpg
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Mark Millman





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 12:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Harry,

I have to disagree with you. I don't think that Kai categorized all of the examples correctly (understandable given the number; I might well have mixed up some had I compiled these), but some do clearly show offset scabbard suspensions. Here are my interpretations:

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/5832/22746/ About this one, Kai explicitly says:
Quote:
(the scabbard is vertical, but the belt is clearly offset)
It's worn by the front-most knight on the right-hand side of the image.

Hortus Deliciarum shows all three possibilities:
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21730/: The belt, as Martin notes above, is clearly offset; the rear segment attaches to the scabbard well below the scabbard's mouth, and the front segment does not lie directly opposite, but according to the image must be closer to the mouth.
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21731/: The belt is just as clearly not offset.
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21732/: The right-most visible scabbard (which appears to be third deepest into the image) has the rear belt attachment at the mouth, and therefore must not be offset.
The other examples from Hortus Deliciarum are ambiguous, as the belts are concealed, but some are suggestive.

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4814/11894/: The belt clearly is not offset.
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/5812/22555/: Again, the visible belt (just right of center) is clearly not offset.
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/5832/22744/: The belt (on the right-most figure) is clearly not offset. Interestingly, however, both attachments, although at the same distance from the scabbard's mouth, attach well below it. Compare this to the system in http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4889/14209/, where the attachments, although opposite each other and symmetrical, making the scabbard hang vertically, are deltoid and extend from near the mouth well down the scabbard.
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4670/12155/: Goliath's belt is clearly not offset.
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4526/11341/: Again, Goliath's belt must not be offset; the rear belt attachment is at the scabbard's mouth.

I note also that some of the ambiguous examples are so because the sword-belt is concealed inside the hauberk. It would be possible to force the scabbard to hang at an angle despite a belt that's not offset by placing the slit through which it protrudes forward of the scabbard's natural resting point.

But ignoring that, even in this small sample there are definitely two scabbards carried on offset belts that would lead to the scabbards' hanging at an angle rather than vertically.

Best,

Mark Millman
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 12:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If anyone wants to see a sword worn at an angle from a single belt, check out Alexander Kernig's interpretation of the Codex Manesse scabbards. In periods like the 12th century CE where there are no intact scabbards from graves and treasuries and the art is not so detailed, interpretations are tricky!
www.bookandsword.com
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 5:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
If anyone wants to see a sword worn at an angle from a single belt, check out Alexander Kernig's interpretation of the Codex Manesse scabbards. In periods like the 12th century CE where there are no intact scabbards from graves and treasuries and the art is not so detailed, interpretations are tricky!


That looks to be an early to mid 13 C. Sword.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 8:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:British_Museum_-_Room_40_Lewis_Chess_Pieces_(20416658531).jpg
Leonard Parker
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2020 1:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
That looks to be an early to mid 13 C. Sword.

If you read the Patreon post, Alex's scabbard and belt are based on the Codex Manesse from c. 1300-1340. But if you think that with a single belt the sword cannot hang at an angle, e pur si pende ("and yet, it hangs").

You can hang a sword vertically (like a hanger), horizontally (like a seax or katana), or at an angle (like Alex's sword) from a single belt, it all depends on the rigging and the furniture.

www.bookandsword.com


Last edited by Sean Manning on Fri 10 Apr, 2020 8:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kai Lawson




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2020 8:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark--

While I'm sure I likely copy-pasted a number of the listed examples into the wrong categories, I was specifically putting a number of the images that show a vertical suspension depiction and simultaneously show the scabbard at an angle that would not normally be possible or likely as ambiguous. Is the scabbard at that angle because it is actually worn with an offset/angled belt? Is it that the person wearing the scabbard is leaning on the sword and making it deviate from the vertical? Is the artist used to seeing both scabbards at an angle and vertical, and drew a 'better' or 'more interesting' or whatever scabbard suspension? In a number of cases, it would be unreasonable for the scabbard to exist untouched or un-held at the angle depicted, so it is reasonable to assume that some angled suspensions existed, or the scabbards would be drawn hanging straight down.

How common they might have been? Who's to say? I would argue that we see angled suspensions in the XI century, and they likely (though not for sure!) carried over to the XII.

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Mark Millman





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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2020 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Kai,

Thank you for the explanation, which explains several of the choices you made with which I disagreed. I should, however, have noticed the clue you gave ("the scabbard is vertical, but the belt is clearly offset") about your criteria, and I apologize for having missed the clue despite the fact that I quoted the statement in my own post.

In fact I agree with you more than I suggested in my post, because I think it's possible that depending on the fit of a non-offset belt, the shape of the wearer's body might well hold the scabbard in an angled position. But as I imagined that Harry would discount this possibility, I didn't mention it. Because I don't have kit of this period I can't test this idea myself, but Jeremy may be able to do it when the changes to his belt are finished.

I'm still not sure, however, that images in which the scabbard is angled while its wearer is in more than gentle motion or is deeply bent should be categorized as other than ambiguous. For example, in http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21731/ the scabbard, which the knight appears to be wearing tightly belted at his waist, is angled with respect to his legs and the ground line; but it remains in line with his torso, which suggests that it would hang vertically if he were standing upright. And in http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21732/ the two sides are charging on horseback, which might well make a scabbard that normally hangs vertically swing to an angled position.

Where the figure is stationary and upright and the scabbard is still shown hanging at an angle, I agree that it's being shown in its normal position. Some images where this is clearly the case are:
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4129/12078/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4967/15395/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21730/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3916/21734/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3924/10756/
I think it's hard to tell in some of the other images--for example, those from BBB Cod. 120.II Liber ad honorem Augusti sive de rebus Siculis--whether the figures are meant to be in vigorous motion, which to me makes them ambiguous.

Thank you for citing these images and bringing this evidence into the discussion!

Best,

Mark Millman
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Kai Lawson




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Apr, 2020 12:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Screenshot'd these from Dimicator's Facebook page, so that the source and image are all together. I would argue that despite the apparent forward motion of people in both images (the duelists might me circling or stationary, but they are both adopting active stances), I would argue that the scabbards are offset, and while you can't see any details for the one with the duelist, the other scabbard could very well be offset with a split belt: One 'tongue' of the belt continues around to reconnect with the front, and one tongue drops down to interact with the scabbard, much like we see on later split suspensions for swords or strap dividers for earlier Migration Era/Viking Age swords.


 Attachment: 767.4 KB
Possibly divided belt. [ Download ]

 Attachment: 1022.78 KB
[ Download ]

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Apr, 2020 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do think that everyone would agree that it would be nice to see more 12th C scabbards drawing from period illustrations.

Whether we believe that all scabbards were vertical, a minority were off-set, or many were off-set; we can agree that the scabbards widely being made now for 12th. C. reproductions are inaccurate- simply being taken from the 14th. C. style and applied to type Xa or XI swords.

I'm doing my part in having 2 scabbards made drawing from period sources. Both will be vertical. It would be nice to see someone produce one drawing from illustrations of what they feel is an off-set example.
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Kai Lawson




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Apr, 2020 4:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy,

I am actually excited to see the vertical suspension remade; I am curious to hear how they behave when walking, running, ascending and descending slopes or stairs, etc...

The vertical suspension does seem to be to be very prevalent based on art, and I wonder how much the longer blade really impacts daily movement and wear. Perhaps that is part of the reason we really only see them worn by standing characters? Seems obvious enough, but even on stools or the like, we tend to see scabbards carried or held and not worn, unless ready for war or standing. I understand that wearing swords out of armor didn't really happen often until later in the XIII century, but it's still an interesting thing to note.

EDIT: I'm also curious to see how the not-uncommon artistic imagery of a sword worn under mail plays into this. If you have a vertical suspension, you have the option to wear a sword under or over mail, with no 'loss' of function. The offset belt seems to be more limiting in that regard. Not like this is likely to be a prominent reason for one over the other; more just food for thought.

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Martin Kallander




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Apr, 2020 3:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Soon we will have at least one more! Tord is currently working on a 12th C XA for me which will come with an offset scabbard. Although that scabbard is based on an image that hasn't been definitively dated to the 12th C, it's not that bad because the same kinds of scabbards also appear in Skylitzes and we're only going by this one because the ones in Skylitzes are either partly obscured, or have decayed to the point that you can't make out all the details of the decorations on any singular one of them.



https://scontent.fbma2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-0/p480x480/91260557_664864587627079_6936545012523991040_n.jpg?_nc_cat=100&_nc_sid=b96e70&_nc_ohc=ubLEzTdUewsAX8Y9Cpm&_nc_ht=scontent.fbma2-1.fna&_nc_tp=6&oh=9fb1a299c4426fbc78b1e534fd1b3020&oe=5EB5CC1C





https://scontent.fbma2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-9/90553395_218828645988977_1111931053993361408_n.png?_nc_cat=107&_nc_sid=b96e70&_nc_ohc=7IjcOR7Q0AUAX-yj-go&_nc_ht=scontent.fbma2-1.fna&oh=90c4c18a2f5853b1cf8c5eb00e2bb5fc&oe=5EB93B68

edit*

They also appear in 11th C stuff like the menologion of Basil II, I had completely forgotten about that when I made the order :s


Last edited by Martin Kallander on Mon 13 Apr, 2020 10:34 am; edited 1 time in total
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