Ayisha bint Asad Laurel Elevation Ceremony
Feast of Eagles – July 29, 2023 (1402 Mordad 7 by the Persion or Jalaali Calendar)
Researched and Written by Saito Takauji
Edits and Improvements by Duchess Ylva Jonsdottir
Introduction and Notes:
The recipient, Ayisha bint Asad, requested a Safavid ceremony independent of time period in the style of a guild induction if such a thing existed. The goal of this ceremony was therefore to provide that, creating space for the SCA Order of the Laurel in the structures of Safavid government and society.
Fortunately, the Safavid Empire does appear to have had guilds. When exactly guilds were first introduced in Islamic Iran is uncertain, but at the very least by the Samanid regime there was a guild of experts in calligraphy where members were being issued a certificate of proficiency from a master. Given the skills of the recipient, this reference was well received. From there, according to Dr. Keyvani, guilds continued to develop in scope.
By the Safavid period and creeping into post-SCA period, the guilds are broadly described as Asnaf: “A group of city-dwellers engaged in the same occupation, working in the same bazaar, headed by their own chiefs, and paying a regular guild tax to local authorities.” A prospective artisan would join as a pādow and serve in odd jobs, before graduating to a full apprentice as a šāgerd, before being recognized as an Ostād and given a certificate. The headman of a guild (kadḵodā) was confirmed by their local mayor (kalāntar), and gifted with a ceremonial robe.
Creating the Safavid context for the SCA Order of the Laurel required a little bit of work. The ceremony conflates the confirmation of an Ostād with the election of a kadḵodā, as the first results in a master with a certificate and the second a public confirmation with a robe that can serve as the Laurel cloak. Choosing titles also presented difficulties. The King’s titles were easy: Shahanshah is King of Kings and was widely used during the Safavid dynasty, as was Padishah—literally ‘Lord King’ or ‘Master King’, and entirely appropriate for a Master at Arms King. The title for Queen was more difficult to select. Khanum is more Turkish and Mongol and while used by the Safavids frequently represents a less exalted rank than a true Queen; Banbishn is used much earlier; and Shahbanu is used much earlier and then is primarily associated with the last Empress of Iran Farah Pahlavi. Banbishn and Khatun are used to try to come to a balance of historicity and importance.
As such, the ceremony is not an entirely period accurate one, but one which attempts to integrate as much of Safavid culture and structure as possible while maintaining the requirements of an SCA Laurel ceremony.
· Padishah: Master King
· Shahanshah: King of Kings
· Banbishn: Queen of Queens
· Khatun: A high ranking royal woman.
· Snef/Asnaf: A guild/guilds.
· Ostad: A Master artisan.
· Kadkoda: The head of a guild in a city. While theoretically a lower rank than the government appointed Bashi of a guild, the Kadkoda was chosen by the Guild and better represents the partially self-selecting nature of the Laurel.
· Kalantar: A Safavid mayor who confirms a Kadkoda, and whose signature is sometimes required for an Ostad’s certificate.
· Naqib: Deputy head of a guild.
· Qurchi-Bashi: The General of the Royal Body Guard Corps, the second highest ranking officer in the Safavid military.
· Darugha: An urban military and judicial official responsible for protecting the peace of town and market place.
· Nazir: The Court Minister, highest post within the Royal household.
· Vizier: Government minister, including the Grand Vizier who functioned as Prime Minister.
Mehdi Keyvani, Artisans and Guild Life in the Later Safavid Period, Durham University (1980). http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/7492/
Encyclopaedia Iranica, AṢNĀF, August 16 2011. https://iranicaonline.org/articles/asnaf-guilds
Iran Chamber Society, Iranian Calendar Converter, https://www.iranchamber.com/calendar/converter/iranian_calendar_converter.php.
M.A.S. Abdel Haleem (trans.), The Qur’an, Oxford World’s Classics (2016).
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Safavid Dynasty, February 28 2023. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Safavid-dynasty.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Shah, September 9 2022. https://www.britannica.com/topic/shah.
Bernard Lewis, The Islamic Guilds, 8 The Economic History Review 1 (Nov., 1937).
Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad, at-Tusiyy al-Gazzaliy, F.R.C. Badgley (trans.), Jalal Huma’i (trans.), and H.D. Isaacs (trans.), Ghazali’s Book of Counsel for Kings (Nasihat al-Muluk), Oxford University Press (1964).
|Laurel/Ostād/Kadkoda:||Ayisha bint Asad|
|KALANTAR (BOON BEGGED BY/MASTER OF CEREMONIES):||Ylva|
|NAQIB (LAUREL SPEAKER):||Elianor de Morland|
|QURCHI-BASHI (CHIVALRY SPEAKER):||Duncan Bruce of Logan|
|VIZIER (PELICAN SPEAKER):||Alan of Darkdale|
|DARUGHA (DEFENSE SPEAKER):||Donald MacDonald|
|NAZIR (ROYAL PEER SPEAKER):||Issabell Saint Charles|
|POPULACE SPEAKER:||Inez Errotabehere|
|ROBE and HAT GIVERS||Nessa (will speak for herself, Mia and Roise)|
The ceremony begins with the Crown seated, and the Kalantar waiting to be called.
KING: By the fading day, man is deep in loss; save for those who keep faith in one another, do good deeds, urge one another to truth, and urge one another to steadfastness. We seek one who lives by these ideals.
QUEEN: The scholars tell us that there is nothing so fine as the pen, for even the highest of all have sworn oaths by it; and great philosophers from abroad have told us that the world’s affairs are governed by the pen and the sword, sword beneath the pen. We seek one who is as a goldsmith of words to gild our histories.
HERALD: Agamemnon, Padashah-i-Calontir and Shahanshah, and Marie Khatun, Banbishn, invite the Order of Artisans, beloved by all, to attend their discussions. Let all guilds and their heads, also known as the Order of the Laurel, attend the throne to advise the wisest of rulers. [pause then add the following:] Please kneel or sit before the thrones, or move to the side if you will remain standing.
Ylva and the order enter court and arrange themselves in their customary array.
KING: Behold the many Asnaf of Calontir, the guilds of artisans which beautify our realm. None may be admitted to their ranks who have not been deemed an Ostad and received a certificate; and none may lead a guild who has not been elected, affirmed by a Kalantar and the Crown, and given a robe of office.
MARIE: Ylva Begum, beloved of the throne. You have begged a boon of the King of Kings and Queen of Queens that Ayisha bint Asad be admitted to the Guild of Calligraphers and Illuminators, and named Kadkoda of the guild until another shall take her place. Is that still your wish?
YLVA: It is, your Majesty.
KING: Then it will be yours to ensure that proof of her worthiness is offered to the throne and the people that she is deserving of these honors.
MARIE: We will receive none as Master Artisan and Kadkoda who is indentured to another. Is her Master willing to release her? Call Mathurin Ostad, for we will not take a student away from a Peer unwillingly.
HERALD: The King of Kings and Queen of Queens call Mathurin Ostad, from the Order of Viziers, and his protege Ayisha bint Asad.
Mathurin, Ayisha and her banner bearer(s) enter
MATHURIN: No one may be named a Master in a guild while still a student. None may rise while still tethered. But all who loyally serve are allies of one another, seizing the hand of one who needs us, and I will always be ever to you.
Mathurin may speak other words as appropriate and takes her protege belt from her.
AYISHA: Speaks words as appropriate.
Ylva takes the white tabard from Ayisha.
MATHURIN: My King and Queen, Ayisha daughter of Asad stands before you free of any service to me. She may be judged on her own merits, and found to have her own worth. I know my faith will end in fruition, and she will serve the people with her whole heart and soul.
MARIE: Let the Kalantar present testimony, for we will not put our signature to any certificate of mastery which has not been earned. Not only the leaders of her own guild must testify for her to gain the ustadi; but we require all those orders of the Kingdom who are customarily consulted.
YLVA: As you will join the guilds and artisans of the Kingdom, I call a representative of the Order who assists in certifying the qualifications of the artisans. This attestation will be completed by Naqib Elianor de Morland
NIQAB (Mistress Elianor): The members have been consulted, and the required numbers have consented to the approval of Ayisha bint Asad as a master artisan of her guild. We do not contest, but enthusiastically endorse, her certification of mastery.
ELIANOR MAY SAY OTHER THINGS AS APPROPRIATE
YLVA: Even those artisans who serve the Army are organized in our guilds, and must know of the workings of those who fight for the Crown. Let the Qurchi-Bashi Duncan Bruce of Logan, chief of the body guard corps, speak to Aisha’s support of the army in the field.
QURCHI-BASHI (Logan): The artisans Ayisha will supervise are the same who work in leather for the strap, steel for the sword and spear, and wood for the cart and barrel. The Army moves on such things, and she knows well the need for them as she has traveled with us afar. Those who serve by the sword support Ayisha, as she supports us. She is Ostad!
YLVA: (to Ayisha) Those who serve the throne practice another art entirely, one you are well acquainted with. But you cannot pass to the next step without the approval of the Order of those who serve and advise. They will be represented by Vizier Alan of Darkdale.
VIZIER (Alan): Mastery in arts brings service. For as we are told: “Help one another to do what is right and good,” the greater your knowledge the more you are called to help. But the Order of Viziers has seen the works of Ayisha and the service in her heart, and confirms her elevation.
ALAN MAY SAY OTHER THINGS AS APPROPRIATE
YLVA: What is an artisan without a marketplace? A merchant without a stall? And all must be protected, which is the province of the Darugha. Donald MacDonald will attest to how Ayisha has seen to the security of the city with the swiftness of her sword.
DARUGHA (Donald): We are taught when to draw the sword, and when to keep the peace. We are taught to deal kindly and justly with those who do so with us. Ayisha knows the ways of drawing the sword, and the times to keep it sheathed. The defenders of the city and the market support her, as she supports us.
DONALD MAY OTHER THINGS AS APPROPRIATE
YLVA: None may pass closer to the throne than the Nazir, the chief advisor to the Crown. They have seen the weight of leadership, and help bear the weight of the throne. Let the Nazir Issabell Saint Charles speak to Ayisha’s leadership.
NAZIR (Issi): (to Ayisha) We who serve so close to the throne know well how high these heights can seem. And yet we serve to remind all: “Do not strut arrogantly about the earth: you cannot break it open, nor match the mountains in height.” But we know your heart, and that you seek to bear the burdens of others, not add their glory to your foundation.
ISSI MAY SAY OTHER THINGS AS APPROPRIATE
YLVA: Those appointed to lead our guilds do not lead only Ostad, but the people. None should be put over them without hearing their voices, and contemplating what it means to be their guide and guard. Hear the words of Inez Errotabehere, favored by the Crown and people.
POPULACE SPEAKER (Inez): All who serve in honest faith are equal, and yet some must lead and others follow. Remember: “Uphold justice, even if it is against yourself, your parents, or your close relatives…refrain from your own desire, that you may act justly.” Never forget that if you uphold justice to your people, you will be rewarded with greater than riches.
INEZ MAY SAY OTHER THINGS AS APPROPRIATE.
YLVA: King of Kings, Queen of Queens, seated on the thrones of the Sun and Lion, the Heart and Falcon: You have heard the testimony of the guilds and warriors, the servants and rulers, and the people. In the name of justice and mercy, righteousness and honor, I now ask you to create Ayisha as an Ostad and Kadkoda. Grant her your firman and have her invested with the ceremonial robe.
ROYAL HERALD: Ayisha bint Asad, bearer of the crossed swords and cross, beloved as the lily and excellent in all things, kneel before the throne.
KING: Ayisha, you have served in the karkhana-ha-yi saltanati , the inner sanctum of Our reign, as a royal artisan, and been rewarded for your labors. But to serve as an Ostad is to stand on your own, judged entirely for your work and responsibility. Is it still your desire to be so rewarded and so judged?
AYISHA: It is.
QUEEN: Ayisha, you have worked hard to master the arts of calligraphy and illumination, honoring Our lands and people with your art. But to serve as Kadkoda is to make the work of others your responsibility, to ensure not only art from your hands but from all the artisans and all the guilds. Is it still your desire to be so recognized and so burdened?
AYISHA: It is.
KING: There are three things which last after death: Ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, and a pious remembrance. We guarantee our servants nothing more than these. Is it still your will to accept the payment of a Peer, which is far more often paid in graciousness than coin?
AYISHA: It is.
KING: Then we decree that you now be made a Laurel. Reject all evil, and you will have grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks.
KING PLACES HIS SCEPTER ON AYISHA’S SHOULDER.
KING: May your skills be ever increased in service to Crown and Kingdom.
QUEEN: Encourage good, forbid evil, and believe in the people.
QUEEN PLACES HER SCEPTER ON AYISHA’S SHOULDER.
QUEEN: May your gentle demeanor serve always as an example of courtesy to all who would observe you.
KING AND QUEEN CROSS THEIR SCEPTERS ON AYISHA’S HEAD.
CROWN (TOGETHER): And may your spirit ever follow the goals your heart sets before you.
KING: Now hear the oath you will swear. And know that you do not swear it only to us. You swear it to the Crown, to the people, and yourself; and none shall judge you well if it is taken lightly or broken.
HERALD prompts fealty oath:.
In the name of wisdom, I swear to the Padishah and Banbishn to maintain the order of heaven and earth; to assist in preserving what is good and righteous; and to spread my art and knowledge, and champion every good and beautiful thing. So swear I, Ayisha bint Asad.
QUEEN: You will be recognized for your mastery by three things: Your robe, your medallion, and your hat.. Two protect you from the elements, one is a reminder of all you have achieved. All will tell the world of the honor you bear, and the burden you have taken on in leadership. Let them be brought, and placed upon her shoulders.
Nessa, Roise, Mia and Safyya come forward
ROBE AND HAT GIVER (Nessa): Elected by your peers, and confirmed by the Crown and their representative, take now a ceremonial robe to mark your station. None will fail to recognize its import, though but few know its weight. Wear it with equal pride to yourself, and honor to the Kingdom.
Ayisha is helped into the robe
The laurel is a noble plant. Its berries have been used as medicine, its leaves as seasoning, and in a wreath has crowned victors and sacrifices in ancient and honorable circumstances. May it be to you a reminder that as a peer you too will serve in many ways, and of the station you have attained.
The cap of maintenance is placed on Ayisha
NESSA MAY SAY OTHER THINGS AS APPROPRIATE.
MEDALLION GIVER (SAFIYYA): A medallion is a seal of authority, given to you from the crown and from the members of the Order. Never forget that while you wear it, it will be assumed that all those who placed it on you approve of your actions, and ensure no dishonor represents upon it.
SAFIYYA SAY OTHER THING AS APPROPRIATE, THEN HANDS THE MEDALLION TO THE CROWN FOR ONE OF THEM TO PLACE ON AYISHA.
KING: None may achieve the rank you have without the approval of the Kalantar and our signatures. This we give, and confirm.
QUEEN: We swear by the Daybreak, by the Ten Nights, by the even and the odd, and by the night that passes: Ayisha bint Asad is made a Laurel. Herald, read the scroll.
HERALD READS THE SCROLL. Text by Her Ladyship Chiara di Paxiti. Calligraphy by Mistress Alessandra di Piro. Illumination by Lady Inez Errotabehere
 M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Surah 103.
 Ghazali’s Book of Counsel for Kings (Nasihat al-Muluk), at 113.
 Surat al-Tawba 9:71.
 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 2444, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2584
 Mehdi Keyvani, Artisans and Guild Life in the Later Safavid Period, at 111.
Id., at 79.
 Encyclopaedia Iranica, Asnaf; and Keyvani, at 111.
 The Qur’an, 5:2.
 Adapted from The Qur’an, 60:8.
 The Qur’an, 17:37.
 The Qur’an, 4:135.
 Id., at Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1631.
 Quran 2:256 (adapted).
 Quran 3:110 (adapted).
 The Qu’ran, 89:1-4.