Biya Sama

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Biya Sama (non-registered name) has played in the Society for Creative Anachronism since 10/1990. She started her SCA career in the then Shire of Mag Mor, Calontir as (unregistered) "Anne de Lyons", an early 13th century Norman persona, and joined to pursue bardic arts which was her exclusive art throughout her Mag Mor years. In 1995, Biya (modernly known as Laurel) graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincon and moved to Iowa City, IA to play in the Shire of Shadowdale, Calontir. While in University, Biya had discovered Asian cultures and Asian music in particular. When she moved, she realized that she had lost her connection to European history, culture, and interest in European music. The University of Iowa's extensive Asian language collection in its libraries provided Laurel, now a graduate student in the Chinese language department, with an opportunity to switch personas. She switched to a Han Chinese, still living in early 13th century, but this time coming from the Jin dynasty capital of Yanjing (modern Beijing). Her name became "Feng Yin-yue".

In Shadowdale, "Feng Yin-yue" studied Asian music for the first time, using sheet music photocopied from a book called "Music of the Korean Renaissance: Songs and Dances of the Fifteenth Century" edited by Jonathan Condit.

In 2000, with grad school complete, Biya moved to the East kingdom to the Barony of Settmour Swamp. Shortly after her move, she received a copy of a Manchu-English dictionary under a "research purposes only" license. Through that dictionary, Biya finally had the tools to construct a proper Jin dynasty persona and her current name "Biya" was chosen: a shamaness born in 1205 and living during the conflict between Jurchens and Mongols, when Jurchens are fighting for their freedom from Mongol rule.

Biya is Manchu (in 1636 the Jurchens renamed themselves "Manchus") for "the moon" and has a spiritual connotation to it. Jurchen society was a very simple, clan-based society with many features in common with the ancient Celts. It was also a goddess-centric one, which Laurel finds very interesting as an Asian historian. The shaman priestesses were great lore mistresses and teachers--which has great appeal. It is a beautiful culture and an chance to be someone very special!

The reason the name is not registered yet is that Jurchen name conventions do not match SCA heraldry rules--I have been struggling against the current system that requires a byname on a culture where a byname is not period. Jurchens did not adopt Chinese name convention until out of period.


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