Halima al-Rakkasa

An Introduction to the Person(a) (as of July 1/08)


Halima al-Rakkasa thinks she still dwells on the outskirts of Damashq, during the franji year 1085 (CE). She is the sole support of her dar, dancing and telling fortunes to travelers and wearers-of-slippers alike. She has been known to frequent the company of the franji Charles le Verdier.


Shire of Cragmere, on Insula Magna, in the Principality of Tir Righ, Kingdom of An Tir


Gules, a crescent argent, in chief 2 palets wavy azure

Badge: Fieldless, a borage flower and crescent conjoined in pale argent


Spinning yarn and playing with string things
Making things

An Introduction to a Goutte/Jambe List

Salaam aleikum

Halima at Jarp in the Park; photo by Marina la Pica My name is Halima al-Rakkasa. If you want to be formal about it, put a Sayyida in front of that. On occasion, I'll be Ysabel de Launay. Less often, Halla sneypir. More rarely, Izzy the wench (ask about the gun sometime). I live in the Shire of Cragmere, and don't get off the Island much.

I have a Goutte, probably because I've been an officer for most of my 13 years (began in 1995) in the SCA (well, a bunch of people wanted to start a branch and I was a newbie who didn't know to answer, "Do you want to be Chatelaine?" with "No."). I've also run a few small events and demos, and published the newsletter for several years. I'm currently exchequer, dance mistress, and web minister for the Shire of Cragmere.

I have a Jambe. I'm not certain why. I don't see myself as being an expert in anything; I -love- learning about -lots- of stuff, which means I have a basic working knowledge on a broad variety of topics. And I love to teach others the basics so they can come back later all full of excitement on how they took the plunge!

Doireann Dechti writes:
I wish to praise the modesty of my fellow Cragmerian! Sayyida Halima holds one of the most difficult and time-consuming offices in our Shire, as well as tending to the constant upkeep of our branch website. At the same time she does, as mentioned, autocrat events, socials and demos (but not so few as she has hinted at - she is a very prolific autocrat!). What Halima does not mention is that she is a regular, and popular, teacher at ithras in neighboring branches, and that she does many jobs for the events that she herself is not autocratting, including the management of gate for all of our events.

As for Sayyida Halima's Jambe, it is a well earned award. It is true what Sayyida says about her love of learning "lots" of stuff. But, she has much more than a basic working knowledge, as evidenced by the excitment and learning success of her many students (I am one of them!), and by the beautiful and detailed works of hers which can be found adorning many, many members of the populace. Halima's weaving projects are consistent in their exemplary workmanship, yet varied in design and color. Her pewter tokens adorn many a proud Cragmerian and former Cragmerian, and her pewter buttons are charming and beautifully created. The Lady's calligraphy is among the tidiest I have seen. These are but a few of her skills. They go well beyond a working knowledge, and each work of Sayyida Halima's that I have seen is an example of her dedication and perfectionism.

Doireann Dechti


Dance - Started with branles, went to ECD, now looking to find the -old- peasant dances so everyone can dance without needing training. In modern life, I teach and perform belly dance (Egyptian orientale and balady), so I'm looking for more than an exerpt from 'Golden Meadows' by Mas'Udi to lead me into historical Near Eastern dance. (Too bad Argentine tango isn't period...)

Textiles - Started with spindles, and still there; far too happy just spinning, making it difficult to do something with the yarn/thread. Warp-faced plain-weave bands, tablet-weave bands; looking at trying a rigid heddle, and also 6-hole tablets. Love to net, but still have a project that I'm reluctant to finish because I opted to include beads in the netting, which get caught while I work. A lot. I spun purple wool to net a hairnet, then spun rose yarn to make a fingerloop braid for the band; fits extremely well over dressed hair. I like fingerloop braiding, and since making a long lace in silk cord, I want to do more in silk; I saw a woodcut (no provenance; possibly late to out of period) showing an Near Eastern man making a braid with the use of a frame... which would be -very- useful for when you need that other hand. Impatient with embroidery (carpal tunnel syndrome doesn't help), but do some basic stitches, a bit of blackwork. Still haven't finished the needlelace project. Hate to sew, but it's the only way to get clothes I like; best with rectangular construction and natural fabrics (Bishop Timotheos left clothes behind...). Currently in love with sprang (sprAHNg); am spinning some onionskin-dyed yarn to make a pouch in wool.

Book arts - I like color, a lot. Did a fair bit with the Grete Boke project. Also like calligraphy, but have to watch out for cramping and shakiness. Can do an Uncial, a French-style Blackletter, and a variation of mahee of acre's Illusionary English-Arabic. -Love- gilding and wish I had more excuses to gild. Have done a few scrolls. Made some Nag Hammadi style notebooks with soft leather covers; learned to make parchment-bound ("limp parchment") books, and have tried that with cardstock... Want a good source for parchment so I can make more.

Plants - Mostly herbs for food and medicine. Living in an apartment, so all in pots. If the truck was larger, I'd include a couple of tubs of mint and parsley for camping events. Have been known to use wild plantain for poultices, and plucked berries at event sites.

Pewter - Like working with soapstone. Made buttons for my yelek, and sold some, too; should try a 3-piece mold. Made a lot of pendants: Cragmere Silver Swan tokens, prize tokens (dumb to waste soapstone on only a dozen), Tir Righ badge pendants. Also made flat coin-things: event "money", game pieces (X, O).

Food, sort of - Not much of a cook. But have some Near Eastern recipes for potlucks (I'm the one with -weird- food seasoned with sumac, rosewater, etc.); French recipes, too (mead, ypocras, roasts).

Games - Not much. Wari. Want to learn Arab chess because I should know it. Have been known to play other board games, but not often.

Bardic - Dabble. Still like the Shakespearean-style sonnet I wrote; I must've been inspired. Sing a little; can carry a tune, but not far; prefer period bawdy songs. Have told a tale or two, but much better (I think) with writing.

I dabble a lot, like making the open clay oil lamps still in use during Halima's time. Heraldry doesn't really count here (though I, too, have looked at creating an achievement, and have a basic design together)... uhhh... There's the "other" stuff: kubb set in foam so we can play it indoors; fake leather cooler so it doesn't stand out and yet is still easy to lug.

The dabbling can be attributed to a general goal of covering life: what do I sleep in/on, what happens when I wake up, what do I put on and why (weather, rank), how was that made, when do I eat and what, what do I do with my day to earn my keep, how do I interact with people/animals, what is my entertainment, what is my shelter, who surrounds me, etc.

I'm part "research until it chokes" and part "blend it into the medieval atmosphere". I also tend to be -very- low tech; the more equipment that is involved, the less I'm interested.

OK. That's it (as long as I don't remember something else...). Now I -really- want to know how many people read to this point!



May 2006; photo by Dustin Nauta

Caught! The contest was a Persona Picnic, Cragmere, May 6, 2006. The setting was upon a carpet, with a small saddle and saddle blanket upon which to lean, and the food arrayed on low tables with trays. Brass and wood bowls held a variety of prepared (period recipes) and dried foods. Sekanjabin was in the bottle, and a silver jug held water. A tray of nammoura was distributed for dessert. Notice that the -right- hand was used for selecting from the dishes...