Discussion:
Help me ID these chess figures?
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Hatfield
2015-09-06 00:16:20 UTC
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One side has the Norse Gods and are obvious.
The other side either have generic bad guys or maybe some of them represent actual Giants from the legend?
Which of these is true?
I figure you guys would know!
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The Norse Mythology Chess set:

http://www.atkmchesssets.com/products/norse-viking-chess-set.html
Hatfield
2015-09-06 00:40:31 UTC
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I presume the second from left (a 'bishop') is Froh (the matching 'bishop' with hammer is Donner). ?
Hatfield
2015-09-06 00:45:47 UTC
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Opposing side's 'bishops' look like Fasolt and Faffner?
I have no idea about the 'king' and 'queen' (tallest pieces).
REP
2015-09-06 01:46:33 UTC
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Post by Hatfield
http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NTE3WDgwMA==/z/EwgAAOxyeR9TIJJ2/$_57.JPG
Opposing side's 'bishops' look like Fasolt and Faffner?
I have no idea about the 'king' and 'queen' (tallest pieces).
I doubt any of the figures are Fasolt or Fafner. According to the description, the set was inspired by the story of Ragnarok, so Surtr is a more likely candidate.

But something tells me that the Norse inspiration here is very loose, and the set is just Norse "flavored" rather than designed with specific mythological figures in mind. Otherwise, shouldn't one of the pieces have only one eye?

REP
Hatfield
2015-09-06 23:26:41 UTC
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Hmm, I had not realized the set as Ragnarokian; if a loosely based chess set based on that battle, then perhaps the wolves represents the one who breaks the chain. And one pawn set Jormungandian serpents. I think an owner shold paint a patch on Odin!
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-09-07 17:38:32 UTC
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On Sunday, September 6, 2015 at 1:16:21 AM UTC+1, Hatfield wrote:

Well, there's a big difference between Wagner's synthesis of Norse myth and the "original" sources, which are themselves often sytheses created hundreds of years later by a several-generations-on Christian, Snorri Sturlason, and then re-interpreted by writers, artists and of course composers of the 19th century and after, and eventually comic books, who added things like the winged and horned helmets, totally invented.

What you have here is a sort of crude mishmash of all of these, based indeed on Ragnarokr. Odin on the left is evidently heavily derived from Jack Kirkby's Thor strip, but without, as you say, the eyepatch. The Queen is naturally Fricka, then of course Thor -- but his hammer, though vaguely based on Norse jewellery, is too big for the mythological model. The valkyrie is more or less Wagnerian, the castle is generalized but certainly not Old Norse, more like Scottish, and the pawn looks more like something out of manga. Among the opposition Loki draws on Wagner's identification of him as a fire god, which isn't accurate, and god alone knows what the lady next to him is supposed to be -- might be the underworld goddess Hella, except half her face should be blue and skeletal. The figure with the ice spear would be supposed to be one of the Frost giants, the wolf would be the Fenris-wolf who swallows Odin alive; the furnace-bellied thing would probably be the fire-giant Surtr, although it looks more like the biblical Moloch, and on the end a rather apologetic World Serpent Jormundgandr, who gets Thor (fangs for the memory...).

Fasolt and Fafner are largely Wagner's inventions, so they wouldn't appear in a basically Norse set. Fasolt was a name taken from, if I remember rightly. a rather obscure wind giant. Fafnir in the sources is originally a dwarf, brother to Regin -- the original of Mime -- but whose greed eventually turned him into the dragon we all know and love.

All told, personally i think this set looks pretty cruddy -- like something cobbled together, probably in the Far East, by someone with only the sketchiest knowledge of Norse myth, either verbally or visually, less authentic and less well imagined than the average toy soldier. If you really want a Norse chess set, why not consider one of the many reproductions of the Lewis chessmen -- arresting images of contemporary figures, pieces the real Norsemen really played with? Possibly they played Hnefetafl, more like Nine Men's Morris, but the figures are evidently designed for chess as well.

http://www.nms.ac.uk/explore/collections-stories/scottish-history-and-archaeology/lewis-chessmen/

(The ones in the Harry Potter films are modelled on them.) The sets in the National Museum of Scotland shop (and in the British Museum's online shop) are a bit pricey but very well made; I've bought some there myself. There are cheaper ones online, but of variable quality; beware of the mould-your-own variety, though, a friend tried one and it looked awful.

Cheers,

Mike
A.C. Douglas
2015-09-08 00:59:37 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Well, there's a big difference between Wagner's synthesis of Norse myth and
the "original" sources, which are themselves often sytheses created
hundreds of years later by a several-generations-on Christian, Snorri
Sturlason, and then re-interpreted by writers, artists and of course
composers of the 19th century and after, and eventually comic books, who
added things like the winged and horned helmets, totally invented.
It's a nasty irony that most responsible for "things like the winged and horned helmets" was the costuming of the original Bayreuth staging of the _Ring_ (1876) under the complete control of Wagner himself. His commissioned costume designer, Carl Döpler, in blatant disregard of Wagner's instruction to him to design costumes "depicting with strikingly vivid detail personal events from a period of culture not only remote from our own experience but having no association with any known experience", came up with "things like ... winged and horned helmets" gathered mainly from ancient historical Germanic sources which Wagner grudgingly accepted as, to be perfectly frank about the matter, Wagner himself did not actually know what he wanted along those lines not to even speak of the time constraints and other instantly more pressing matters at the time which prevented Wagner rejecting Döpler's designs and beginning anew.

ACD
A.C. Douglas
2015-09-08 02:36:22 UTC
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...gathered mainly from ancient historical Germanic sources....
The above should have read: "...gathered mainly from ancient historical Germanic and Scandinavian sources...."

ACD
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-09-08 13:24:40 UTC
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Post by A.C. Douglas
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Well, there's a big difference between Wagner's synthesis of Norse myth and
the "original" sources, which are themselves often sytheses created
hundreds of years later by a several-generations-on Christian, Snorri
Sturlason, and then re-interpreted by writers, artists and of course
composers of the 19th century and after, and eventually comic books, who
added things like the winged and horned helmets, totally invented.
It's a nasty irony that most responsible for "things like the winged and horned helmets" was the costuming of the original Bayreuth staging of the _Ring_ (1876) under the complete control of Wagner himself. His commissioned costume designer, Carl Döpler, in blatant disregard of Wagner's instruction to him to design costumes "depicting with strikingly vivid detail personal events from a period of culture not only remote from our own experience but having no association with any known experience", came up with "things like ... winged and horned helmets" gathered mainly from ancient historical Germanic sources which Wagner grudgingly accepted as, to be perfectly frank about the matter, Wagner himself did not actually know what he wanted along those lines not to even speak of the time constraints and other instantly more pressing matters at the time which prevented Wagner rejecting Döpler's designs and beginning anew.
ACD
Oh, he's on that one again. In fact Dopler, then a young designer, was a specialist in "authentic" costume as it was then understood, and Wagner chose him with that in mind. Thses instructions, selectively quoted -- as was established at dreadful length last time -- have to be read in context. Wagner wanted alt-deutsch costumes all right, just not what was being represented as such by artists and scene designers at the time -- the cod-medieval costumes Schnorr von Carolsfeld produced for his Nibelungenlied illustrations, such as the murals in Neuschwanstein. Wagner wanted something more primitive and he got it; Cosima was horrified, saying they looked like Red Indians. But there's no justification at all for saying that he "blatantly disregarded" any instructions, or that Wagner just went along with his designs for time constraints; ACD's just dreamed that up to justify his original and long exploed assertion -- as ever. In fact, if you look at the photos of the first production you will see that Wagner kept Dopler's designs, but simplifying them somewhat. He could just as easily have discarded hem, there was plenty of time.

As to horned or winged helmets, the problem is that ACD doesn't actually know much about what he's talking about. Yes, the horns, wings etc are rubbish, but at the time they seemed quite likely. Several artefacts associated with Old Norse, Anglo-Saxon and Germanic sources *do* feature images with horns on their helmets -- figures found in Denmark, plates on the Sutton Hoo helm, the figures on the Gundesdrup cauldron (then thought to be Norse), decorations on the ill-fated golden Gallehus horns, and so on. We now know that some of these date from the pre-Viking Vendel period (6th-8th centuries, approximately, when the Volsungasaga, Wagner's main source, was taking shape) and were probably religious dance costumes, like many in other cultures, as they would be totally impracticable in war. The horns were long and curly, so much so they would have broken the wearer's neck by sheer leverage at the first blow. However, because of their shape they were sometimes mistaken for wings, on the Greek model of Mercury (and by Roman message runners, I believe); and artists and writers with a classical viewpoint naturally picked up on this, until it acquired a momentum of its own. But when in the 20th century people began to find real helms of the era, they noticed that none of them, even the incredibly ornate royal Sutton Hoo model, had any trace of wing or horn. So Dopler wasn't creating some fantastic travesty, he was just being as authentic as the prevailing knowledge allowed him to be. No doubt the costumes in the Viking TV series are just as fettered by our age; the haircuts certainly are, there's no evidence at all that they wore half-shaven punk styles!

It would be nice if ACD didn't start rehashing this again, as he was so thoroughly trashed last time, by direct text evidence from several people here, and did eventually shut up about it. I don't know if i could be bothered to do it again, though.

Mike
A.C. Douglas
2015-09-08 14:38:10 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
It would be nice if ACD didn't start rehashing this again, as he was so
thoroughly trashed last time, by direct text evidence from several
people here, and did eventually shut up about it. I don't know if i
could be bothered to do it again, though.
You've an amazingly selective and revisionist amnesia whenever it involves your arguments being thoroughly trashed by me which is to say every single time without exception that we've come into conflict including on this matter where I thoroughly trashed your invented CV of Döpler as an "archaeologist and historian" along with your imbecile idea that Wagner set the _Ring_ in "early Dark Ages Germany". And, no, I refuse to go through it again with you. For other interested readers of this group they can always go back into the group's archives to see the carnage for themselves. What I will do is to simply refute your present self-serving false claim that I selectively quoted Wagner's letter of commission to Döpler out of context to misrepresent what Wagner wanted from Döpler by the simple expedient of posting below the full text of Wagner's letter to Döpler. The English translation is by Spenser and Millington.

=== Begin Quote ===
Dear Sir,

I take the liberty of enquiring whether you might be inclined to design the costumes, and superintend the task of making them, for the festival performances of my four-part stage festival "The Ring of the Nibelung" which I am planning to present in the summer of 1876.

To give you some provisional idea as to the nature of the task, I am sending you a copy of the dramatic poem, together with a number of pamphlets relating to its realization. You will see at once that it was my awareness of the difficulties involved here which persuaded me to look around for a distinguished artist with particular experience in the relevant area.

I believe I'm more than justified in regarding the task I have set you as a field that is fertile in inventive possibilities. For basically what I require is nothing less than a characteristic portrait made up of individual figures and depicting with strikingly vivid detail personal events from a period of culture not only remote from our own experience but having no association with any known experience. You will soon discover that you have to ignore completely the sort of picture which, following the example of Cornelius, Schnorr & others, artists have tried to put forward in portraying the characters of the medieval Lay of the Nibelungs. At the same time, it will be clear to anyone who has concerned himself of late with attempts to portray the more specifically Norse myths that the artists concerned have merely had recourse to classical antiquity, which they have modified in a way which they deemed to be typically Nordic. Passing references to the costumes of the Germanic peoples in Roman authors who came into contact with these nations do not appear to have received the attention they merit. In my own opinion, the artist who wishes to take up the subject I offer him and make it his own will find a unique field open to him in terms not only of intelligent compilation but also his own inventiveness; and I could wish for nothing more than to know that you, my very dear Sir, had made this task your own.

I would entreat you to let me know your kind decision, and to accept the protestations of especial regard with which I have the honor to be

Your devoted servant,

Richard Wagner
=== End Quote ===

ACD
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-09-09 01:40:36 UTC
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Post by A.C. Douglas
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
It would be nice if ACD didn't start rehashing this again, as he was so
thoroughly trashed last time, by direct text evidence from several
people here, and did eventually shut up about it. I don't know if i
could be bothered to do it again, though.
You've an amazingly selective and revisionist amnesia whenever it involves your arguments being thoroughly trashed by me which is to say every single time without exception that we've come into conflict including on this matter where I thoroughly trashed your invented CV of Döpler as an "archaeologist and historian" along with your imbecile idea that Wagner set the _Ring_ in "early Dark Ages Germany". And, no, I refuse to go through it again with you. For other interested readers of this group they can always go back into the group's archives to see the carnage for themselves. What I will do is to simply refute your present self-serving false claim that I selectively quoted Wagner's letter of commission to Döpler out of context to misrepresent what Wagner wanted from Döpler by the simple expedient of posting below the full text of Wagner's letter to Döpler. The English translation is by Spenser and Millington.
=== Begin Quote ===
Dear Sir,
I take the liberty of enquiring whether you might be inclined to design the costumes, and superintend the task of making them, for the festival performances of my four-part stage festival "The Ring of the Nibelung" which I am planning to present in the summer of 1876.
To give you some provisional idea as to the nature of the task, I am sending you a copy of the dramatic poem, together with a number of pamphlets relating to its realization. You will see at once that it was my awareness of the difficulties involved here which persuaded me to look around for a distinguished artist with particular experience in the relevant area.
I believe I'm more than justified in regarding the task I have set you as a field that is fertile in inventive possibilities. For basically what I require is nothing less than a characteristic portrait made up of individual figures and depicting with strikingly vivid detail personal events from a period of culture not only remote from our own experience but having no association with any known experience. You will soon discover that you have to ignore completely the sort of picture which, following the example of Cornelius, Schnorr & others, artists have tried to put forward in portraying the characters of the medieval Lay of the Nibelungs. At the same time, it will be clear to anyone who has concerned himself of late with attempts to portray the more specifically Norse myths that the artists concerned have merely had recourse to classical antiquity, which they have modified in a way which they deemed to be typically Nordic. Passing references to the costumes of the Germanic peoples in Roman authors who came into contact with these nations do not appear to have received the attention they merit. In my own opinion, the artist who wishes to take up the subject I offer him and make it his own will find a unique field open to him in terms not only of intelligent compilation but also his own inventiveness; and I could wish for nothing more than to know that you, my very dear Sir, had made this task your own.
I would entreat you to let me know your kind decision, and to accept the protestations of especial regard with which I have the honor to be
Your devoted servant,
Richard Wagner
=== End Quote ===
ACD
Well, well. This is exactly one of the letters produced to prove you were wrong originally, and it represents exactly what I said just now -- that Wagner meant that he didn't want the cod-medieval approach of v. Carolsfeld and others, or the cod-classical kind which preceded them. And it does very specifically refer Dopler to the descriptions of Germanic costume in Roman authors, which, while it includes Tacitus at a slightly earlier period, also includes the quite detailed description of the Burgundians by Sidonius Appolinaris, who was exiled among them, not long after the fall of the real King Gundahar/Gunther in about 411, ie the early Dark Ages. The ballads Sidonius complains about them howling were probably the beginnings of the Volsungasaga and Nibelungenlied; if he's only listened! So even in this limited context, the reference to "a period of culture not only remote from our own experience but having no association with any known experience" does not mean some fantastic timeless vision apart from reality and pulled out of the air, as you are trying to assert, but simply the then ignorance of that early Germanic period. If Wagner really wanted the Ring set in some Never-Neverland, and not that period, why the hell should he ever have mentioned it at all? And since this is what any reasonable person can see he did want, amply confirmed by other evidence already produced, in the libretto directions and elsewhere, you have once again shot yourself royally in the foot. Exactly as you did before, in fact; so the selective and revisionist memory you have also revealed to be entirely yours, and, for that matter, the carnage. To render Goethe, "Strange son of Chaos, why not turn your mind to something more useful?"
A.C. Douglas
2015-09-09 04:14:27 UTC
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Well, well. This is exactly one of the letters [Wagner's letter of
commission to Döpler] produced to prove you were wrong originally, and it
represents exactly what I said just now -- that Wagner meant that he didn't
want the cod-medieval approach of v. Carolsfeld and others, or the cod
classical kind which preceded them.
Thank you for providing irrefutable proof of my charge that concerning those cases -- every last one of them -- where we've come into conflict and in which cases -- every last one of them without exception -- I've thoroughly trashed your every argument you manage to develop an amazingly selective and revisionist amnesia.

It was *I* who first produced Wagner's letter to Döpler originally to prove I was *right* and every argument you originally put forward to say it proved I was wrong was thoroughly decimated by me -- in detail -- which I refuse to do again here.

You really do need to have that peculiar amnesia of yours tended to, Mr. Rohan.

ACD
Mike Scott Rohan
2015-09-10 00:25:14 UTC
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Post by A.C. Douglas
Well, well. This is exactly one of the letters [Wagner's letter of
commission to Döpler] produced to prove you were wrong originally, and it
represents exactly what I said just now -- that Wagner meant that he didn't
want the cod-medieval approach of v. Carolsfeld and others, or the cod
classical kind which preceded them.
Thank you for providing irrefutable proof of my charge that concerning those cases -- every last one of them -- where we've come into conflict and in which cases -- every last one of them without exception -- I've thoroughly trashed your every argument you manage to develop an amazingly selective and revisionist amnesia.
It was *I* who first produced Wagner's letter to Döpler originally to prove I was *right* and every argument you originally put forward to say it proved I was wrong was thoroughly decimated by me -- in detail -- which I refuse to do again here.
You really do need to have that peculiar amnesia of yours tended to, Mr. Rohan.
ACD
You were discredited in detail, not just by me, but by others who are still posting here, and yet you go on denying it. I bother to answer you because you occasionally come up with something interesting, but really, it's like dealing with a squalling toddler. Dry up and go away.
A.C. Douglas
2015-09-10 00:51:34 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
You were discredited in detail, not just by me, but by others who are still
posting here....
Don't be absurd.

ACD
Herman van der Woude
2015-09-10 07:24:05 UTC
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Post by A.C. Douglas
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
You were discredited in detail, not just by me, but by others who are still
posting here....
Don't be absurd.
ACD
Well, I am still around...
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Richard Partridge
2015-09-10 18:46:29 UTC
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Post by Herman van der Woude
Post by A.C. Douglas
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
You were discredited in detail, not just by me, but by others who are still
posting here....
Don't be absurd.
ACD
Well, I am still around...
--
Met vriendelijke groet,
Cheers,
Herman van der Woude
Me, too. I'm still here.


Dick Partridge

Mike Scott Rohan
2015-09-10 09:21:30 UTC
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Post by A.C. Douglas
Don't be absurd.
ACD
I try. Why don't you?
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