Halima al-Rakkasa

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Halima at Daffodil, Seagirt, on the receiving of the Red Flame; photo by Elizabeth Chatfeld
Resides:Shire of Hartwood
Date Started:August 1995
Awards:Visit the Order of Precedence to access a list of this person's awards.
Offices:prev. exchequer, chatelaine
Gules, a crescent, on a chief argent two pallets wavy azure {Badge: Fieldless, a borage flower and crescent conjoined in pale argent)


SCA History

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 (it means "Lady"). On occasion, I'll be Ysabel de Launay or Halla sneypir. More rarely, Izzy the wench (ask about the gun sometime). I live in the Shire of Hartwood, and don't travel off the Island much.

( Edit, June 10, 2013: On June 8, 2013, I was raised to the Order of the Pelican at the Tir Righ Coronet in Lionsdale, by UlfR and Caoimhe. Those who spoke words of support included my work behind the scenes, the work that makes it fun for everyone. If you wanted to be -very- formal with my title, you'd use "Maulana Halima", pronouncing -all- the vowels. )

I have a Goutte; that's for service. I began life in the SCA in 1995. A group of people wanted to start a branch and was a newbie who didn't know to answer, "Do you want to be Chatelaine?" with "No." So I became a founding officer of the Shire of Cragmere; the shire has since repatriated to its mother branch, Hartwood. I've run small events and demos, was dance mistress for Cragmere and published the newsletter for several years. I have been branch exchequer (until May/13, and again in 2016) and am currently a webminister for the Shire of Hartwood. (I've also served on royal retinues in a small way; possibly the most fun I've had getting run off my feet!)

I have a Jambe; that's for the arts. I -love- learning about stuff, which means I have a basic working knowledge on a broad variety of topics. And I love to teach others the basics (and give them the tools to delve deeper) so they can come back later all full of excitement on how they took the plunge!

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 excitement 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 - From branles, to ECD, to the -old- peasant dances where 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 resources than an excerpt from 'Golden Meadows' by Mas'Udi to lead me into historical Near Eastern dance. (Too bad Tango Argentino isn't period...)

Textiles - Started with spindles, and still there; happy with just spinning, but must do something with the yarn/thread. Warp-faced plain-weave bands on a backstrap loom, tablet-weave bands; eventually want to weave with a rigid heddle. Love to net. As a project, 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. Love fingerloop braiding, and since making a long gown 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 working on 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 as examples...). Love sprang (sprAHNg); made a remarkable number of linen pouches for largesse, and have more underway in wool; researched a sprangwork Coptic hairnet for Tir Righ A&S (Oct 22, 2011), made it and earned most points for a single entry.

Book arts - Color! Did a fair bit with the Grete Boke project (calligraphy, painting, gilding). Like calligraphy but must watch 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 made a few custom scrolls and a charter. 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. Like Coptic-bound books and Oriental-style books. Contributed 15 of the "100 books" project by Hartwood, given for Tir Righ largesse.

Plants - Mostly herbs for food and medicine, but developing a subsistance garden (dry beans, squash, preservable fruits and vegetables. If I could, I'd include a couple of tubs of mint and parsley for camping events. Have been known to use wild plantain for poultices, and have 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). Tokens for Their Highnesses Alden and Lenora. Tir Righ's Etoile d'Argent token.

Food, sort of - Not much of a cook except for some Near Eastern recipes for potlucks (I'm the one with -weird- food seasoned with sumac, rosewater, etc.); French recipes, too (mead, ypocras, roasts). Fresh flatbread is a camping staple, and rosewater-scented dates are always on the table. Rooting through 'Annals of the Caliphs' Kitchens'.

Games - Not much. Wari. Want to learn Arab chess (shatranj?) 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 open clay oil lamps still in use during Halima's time, like creating a painted cloth strip with "address" badges for the tent (the story I tell: "If you find me drunk in the ditch by the roadside, here's my address..."), like making a kubb set in foam so we can play it indoors, like making a "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!




Persona History

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, a bard of surpassing voice. She was born near the shores of Lake Van; she lost her tribe when the horsemen came, and only by great good luck did she survive the killing. Over much time, she found herself with a caravan, heading to Dimashq; there she found a place where a woman of limited resources (and unprovable heritage) could survive.


Currently residing in the Shire of Hartwood, on Insula Magna, Principality of Tir Righ, Kingdom of An Tir.

Awards and Honours

Halima wearing the circlet from reann, created by Asa Martel, at Mermaid's 2004; photo by William of the Battered Helm
  • Award of Arms (An Tir) - Darius Corvinus, Morgaine Brigantia, May 31, 1997 (AS XXXII)
  • Silver Swan ((Cragmere)), Dec 27, 1997 (AS XXXII)
  • Magistrae Ithra (Ithra) - Nov 25, 2000 (AS XXXV)
  • Goutte de Sang (An Tir) - Wilam Tjorkillsson, Siobhan McClure, Mar 2, 2002 (AS XXXVI)
  • Jambe de Lion (An Tir) - Davin Steingrimsson, Groa, Mar 22, 2003 (AS XXXVII)
  • l'Etoile d'Argent (Tir Righ) - Kheron Azov, Ksenia Einarsdottir, Nov 20, 2004 (AS XXXIX)
  • Red Flame (Tir Righ) - Ulfgar Thorvaldsson, Renee de Josselin, Mar 24, 2007 (AS XLI)
  • Silver Pillar (Tir Righ) - Owain ap Einar, Adwen Wrenn, Mar 15, 2008 (AS XLII)
  • Lector Ithra - Artis (Ithra) - Apr 6, 2008 (AS XLII)
  • Beacon of Insula Magna (Seagirt) - Ming Lum Pee, Elína Kársdóttir, Mar 12, 2011 (AS XLV)
  • Order of the Carp (An Tir) - Thorin Njalsson, Dagmaer in Hvassa, Jan 7, 2012 (AS XLVI)
  • Coronets Favor (Tir Righ) - Alden ap Owain, Lenora di Calizzan, Feb 18, 2012 (AS XLVI)
  • Order of the Pelican (An Tir) - UlfR Blodfotur Fallgrson, Caoimhe ingen Domnaille, Jun 8, 2013 (AS XLVIII)

Exemplar of the Shire of Cragmere, jointly held with Charles le Verdier June 21 AS 43 / 2008 (to 2009; succeeded by Kjartan kraka)


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...

Being a dancer, there is some risk of flirtatious behavior: words may flow slowly but the hip is quick!

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