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Artifacts

In a world with a strong sense of history, where tradition (suitably emendated, of course, to serve modern needs) is prized, it's inevitable that artifacts of the past will be valued.

There are as many reasons for preserving artifacts as there are ways to preserve them. Ones with magical value are often hidden. Then there are artifacts belonging to a famous figure. To own something that was part of a person's way to fame is exhilarating to many; just to see such an artifact is inspiring and impressive to others.

There is always a conflict between the desire to possess something valuable without sharing it, and the drive to share the artifact with all. No need to go into the habit of rich collecting things--that's pretty well understood wherever humans are still human. There are reasons for this, too, from the sinister desire of an enemy to possess everything of a defeated enemy to the wish that possession of something famed, some physical extension of someone no longer alive, will impart a bit of whatever made that person stand above the rest.

Artifacts on display also have their share of motivations.

Display venues

There are no "museums" in the sense of Earth museums now, but there are facilities that are close in design. The most common is the archive. Part of the duties of Heralds and Scribes is to preserve records of the past, and in many places, this duty includes objects of the past.

In a sense, Eidervaen is nothing but a huge archive. The desire to built anew just doesn't occur there: part of living in Eidervaen in the notion of occupying the space of ancestors. So most houses, the Guilds, and especially the royal palace complex, are full of artifacts. The palace, in fact, has so many that it could be (and is, privately, among the Landises with a sense of humor) likened to a human barn. There are public rooms, semi-public rooms (called court rooms) and interview rooms of varying degrees of privacy, along with archive rooms both public and secret. In the ancient tower there is an archive that seems to be untrustworthy as far as remaining in present time is concerned: people have been known to see, and touch, objects on a table or shelf that were not there before, lift them out, and discover later in some record that the artifact 'vanished' 500 years ago. But since no one can control this anomaly--or figure out how it happens--it's just regarded as part of Eidervaen's strangeness.

Elsewhere in the world, governmental buildings will often have artifacts on display. These make great political bolsterers, whether of the past, of a conquered nation, or as mute evidence of an illustrious ruling family. Generally, anywhere that more or less free access permits people to borrow books and scrolls from the archive will also display artifacts.

The second most common site for artifact display is Guild Houses. Most of the time these displays are testament to the guild's particular skill, and imaginative archivists will make displays showing the progress of a given skill or item, or else a range of examples from the world over. This sort of display is mostly found in fairly stable areas.

City and town meeting halls are the third most common place for artifact display. These are usually artifacts illustrating local history and famous people. Finally there are the private displays.

Tapestries are probably the most common form of artifact, as they combine several functions: decoration, a modicum of insulation, eye-pleasing color and design, and of course historical meaning. Tracing the movements of famous or even not-so-famous tapestries can furnish unexpectedly amusing and definitely enlightening histories, as motivations for the making, taking, trading, or (finally) buying a tapestry are revealed. Not surprisingly, those who buy a tapestry have the least amount of credit in others eyes: a bought tapestry requires several generations before it enhances the owners' rep. Even looting one is more interesting (often) than the mere rich person who wishes to rise in social rank, who buys tapestries in order to display the outer signs of the wished-for rank.

Looted tapestries have caused some very delicate governmental negotiations--and have also inspired some rather desperate covert actions. Despite changes in fashions, tapestries retain historical charisma.

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Page last modified on January 28, 2008, at 11:36 AM