marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

purity in world-building

India developed, or imported the notion of, cheese rather early.  It never, however, developed the notion of ripened cheeses.  True, rennet-based cheeses are most easily made by killing an animal, often a cow.  True, the warm climate limits the ability of soft cheeses to survive.  But there are vegetable based rennets, and there were long-lasting cheeses in the Mediterranean, albeit only of the hard variety.  This may be due to purity issues; any perishable food over a day was no longer pure for eating.

You get another slant in Anglo-Saxon herbal texts.  It often prescribes that the wooden bowl to be used for mixing up your medicinal stuff be new.  To be sure, this may have been reflecting the immense difficulty in getting it clean if it had been used before.

To be sure, some constraints are imposed on only some people.  Those who can afford to pull them off. Or those whose status confers such ritual requirements on them.  Or just those who want to mark themselves out, except that when you come to reasons, you start to blur these together.  Giving the king a steed that has not been ridden by any rider before.  Or requiring his bride be a virgin, not even a widow.  Kings of England could cause a scandal ignoring that; Eleanor of Aquitaine had too many lands to be overlooked, to be sure, and Henry IV was himself a widower with grown son when he married Joan of Navarre, but the Black Prince's marriage to the Maid of Kent produced shock even though he never ascended the throne, and Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville produced great distress even prior to his favoritism for her family becoming clear.  Lois McMaster Bujold, in  a far different culture, nevertheless rang true when she had a character explain the Emperor's consorts could never have had a child before, and could never have one again unless the Emperor chose to have a second son.

Though you could have a lot of fun with a sacred kingship where all the king's eating vessels had to be new.  Bad enough if he stayed in a castle.  Imagine his visiting people.  Supporting a medieval king's progress would be nothing on that.  Though it would be rather wearing on the king.
Tags: families: matrimony, world-building: food, world-building: religion, world-building: royalty

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