September 10th, 2012

Arms

Falcon Tabard

On the huscarl list, there was a discussion, which had apparently started on the Fyrd list, regarding making more period appropriate Falcon fighting garments, and moving away from the moderately universal rectangular tabard.  Several responded that this trend was in all ways a good thing.

Here is my response:

I have a slightly different view. First of all, I have been wearing a Varangian Guard style Falcon Tabard Cloak for at least 18 years. I tell the story of an unbelted champions battle at Estrella with 5 huscarls wearing five different styles of Falcon "tabards". I would never encourage an INDIVIDUAL to put aside their plans to upgrade or persona-lize their kit, including the Falcon "tabard" (and for the duration of this answer, when I put tabard in quotes, it means cloak, jupon, surcoat or any other persona appropriate display of the Falcon; when I have it without quotes, it refers to the standard issue rectangular tabard), however, on a slightly larger scale view, I would be cautious about suggesting the tabard be totally abandoned in favor of the "tabard".
The Falcon Tabard, even more than the scutum, is the unifying physical element of the Calon Army. It marks to all, foeman and friend, newest of novice and seasoned war dog, as one fighting with Calontir. The visual is the same, though on close inspection, some details and individualizations can be discerned. But the emphasis is on unity. That unity is the Heart of the Heartlands.
Onto logistics. Most years, a dozen or so new tabards show up at each foreign war. Different groups, individuals and household each take their turn laboring over sewing machines for our common good. Not only do they adorn fighters newer to the Falcon Host, but also on occasion clothe the veteran who suffered a wardrobe malfunction while packing. Furthermore they are frequently given as gifts to foreign fighters who fight a battle or two within our ranks. I have often heard such recipients speaking, years after the war, of the joy they felt when the Crown (and they can certainly name the specific King or Queen) entrusted them with a tabard of their own.
This is a place best suited to the standardized tabard. Generic and untailored has its advantages. Asking the workshops to specialize for an unknown wearer is a but much.
But more important is the idea that the bulk of the army is in the "standard issue" tabard. If the generic tabard, the uniform of the troops at Phaedra's Gate, and Siridean's Breach and even the Woods and Bridges of Pennsic XIII, is looked at as less than fully satisfactory, what message does it send to the newer fighter, who scraped together the gear and funds to make it to the war, and received the physical token of acceptance into the Falcon Host, only to find out that the form of that token is less valued than others. What does it say to the foreign fighter, who may be taking the first steps down the road to the Iren-Fera, when they are given the colors of the Kingdom, yet the implied secondary message is that all the "cool kids" have moved beyond wearing this generic version?
Again, I would never tell an individual that he or she should not modify their personal display for a more accurate depiction, equally would I not get up and tell everyone that they should do it.
And while I would never advocate a "Tabard Census", I would hope that somewhere close to half of the Army would be wearing the tabard, rather than the "tabard". In that way, would those who are wearing a tabard for the first time, be they foreign or first timer, know that they truly fit in.
Andrixos,
wordy as always