People Of Color In SCA Award Scrolls

With western art books and resources being mostly produced by white people they tend to assume the white European as a human standard. And in Western European illuminated manuscripts there is a dearth of people of color. But they do exist. And all ethnicities are welcomed into the SCA. 

Dijon – BM – ms._0562 f. 181Vcreated around 1260-1270
representing the Holy Land

So how do you create an award scroll for a non-White friend with people that look like them?

Or maybe your scroll recipient has assumed a Saracen persona. How do you create a scroll creating accurate historic art combat scenes?

You seek out original works.

There are a few Western European illuminated manuscript pages including people of color. But they may be inappropriate to use such as this one portraying people in the Holy Land created in the late 13th century. 
Some 13th -15th century popular French illuminated manuscripts feature Christian-Muslim interaction pictures such as the British Library’s Histoire d’Outremer. And various copies of the Grandes Chroniques de France and the Roman d’Alexandre en Prose.

But the best place to search is the website MedievalPOC. It is a blog showcasing European works of art featuring people of color from the fall of the Roman Empire until about 1650. Often these works go unseen elsewhere and you might see them differently now viewing them from a fresh perspective. The blog is searchable and even gives you a guide to its use.

If you search digitized manuscripts you’ll see the earlier ones appear with dark-skinned Europeans. Later images display more specific ethnicity. To help your technique is a tutorial guiding you in drawing modern heads with ethnic differences. Modern, but will help your observation skills too.


We choose the historic aspects to use for inspiration and should be able to include accurate and appropriate diverse period images in our SCA recreations. The reality is even pre-17th-century European life absolutely included black and brown people. European art history misrepresents that in American classrooms. But you can find people of color in period European art with some research. Take time to look at illuminated manuscript details “because you wouldn’t want to be historically inaccurate.”

Related Prior Post: 

Categories: How-to

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