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A Temperate Gift



I have never seen anything so wonderfully appropriate for me as this: a box decorated for me by my fellow scholar in Temperance studies, suffisaunce. It is lovely and vivid, colorful and cheerful, and full of relevant iconographic richness. I love it so much! Thank you!

Consider the top panel, shown above. I'm quite certain that's me pictured there, in the guise of a personification of Temperance, identified by red hair and crowned with the laurels of graduation. She cleverly uses letters to distinguish the cardinal virtues, with the T for Temperance labeling the central figure, and F (Fortitude), J (Justice), and P (Prudence) hovering around. The windmill on one side and the mask-like glasses on the other are two of Temperance's attributes. Just below the glasses is what is either a sundial or a face; if it's a sundial, it's standing in for all the varied timepieces which are also used as her attributes. If it's a face, it's one of four on the front of the box, either the other cardinal virtues or perhaps Temperance's dependent virtues.



But the top is just the beginning. The bottom side of the box shows Temperance again, this time regulating clocks. (Admire the large mechanical clock off to the left.) Here, her T is both label and hammer, as if to help regulate the ringing of the clock's bells. The image is based on an illustration from Henry Suso's Horologium Sapientiae, a popular fifteenth-century devotional text which includes the oldest known image of a chamber clock. The subsequent rare conflation of Wisdom with Temperance and the consistency with which timepieces were used to represent only Temperance among the virtues is what makes this an important image for temperance studies. The rod-like objects held in her left hand may be reins or a bell-pull, or possibly (though less likely) even a scourge, an attribute of teachers at the time. The flame may represent love of God, indicative of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Horologium Sapientiae image. Here, Temperance is either wearing a black cap, as indicated by its geometrical structure or - in the interpretation I prefer - it's actually very orderly black hair on her head, and thus an image of suffisaunce herself.

Relevant decorations complete the sides of the box.



Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
of_remedye
Jan. 11th, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
*blush* I am so glad you like it! Woodburning is not my strong suit :-[ ...
owlfish
Jan. 11th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
It is fabulous!
kukla_red
Jan. 11th, 2008 12:13 am (UTC)
That's amazing!
noncalorsedumor
Jan. 11th, 2008 01:49 am (UTC)
What a wonderful gift! Immensely thoughtful--and scholarly to boot!
printperson
Jan. 11th, 2008 05:23 am (UTC)
What an extraordinary gift. Does the hexagonal form have particular meaning too?
owlfish
Jan. 11th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
Not off the top of my head, although there are six dependent virtues for Temperance in at least one of the images, so I could make there be!
hungry_pixel
Jan. 11th, 2008 09:52 am (UTC)
OOOh, that's a fabulous gift! And beautiful, and (as has been said) scholarly - very you!
strange_complex
Jan. 11th, 2008 10:29 am (UTC)
Wow, that is amazing! What a lovely, lovely friend you have. :-)
haggisthesecond
Jan. 11th, 2008 10:49 am (UTC)
Incredible!!
ewtikins
Jan. 11th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
Wow!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )