How Did Early Modern European Craftspeople Pass On Their Knowledge? Nageen Shaikh, δημοσίευση στο Hyperallergic [28/3/2023]Marilena Pateraki
Skill, kunst (“art”), and practical knowledge. These essential components formed the core of “making” objects and “knowing” about their material and utilitarian properties in 16th-century European workshops. In these spaces of bustling and collective creativity, artisans manually captured the likeness of living organisms using metals to make life molds and casts (processes that utilize a living model to make a form out of a respective medium, like metal, wax, or ceramic) of lizards, worms, frogs, and plants. Here I wonder, who was served by this vernacular knowledge and has it somehow been preserved through writing?
Building from her research and years of hands-on experiences, science historian Pamela H. Smith’s latest title From Lived Experience to the Written Word: Reconstructing Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern World (University of Chicago Press, 2022) confirms intersections between materials, craft, technique, and developing scientific expertise in early modern European workshops. At the heart of this publication lie concerns like: How is kunst — “embodied knowledge” as referred to by the author — organized into writing and what was its reception?
The book takes the French manuscript Ms. Fr. 640 (c. 1579) as its central case study that is now housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Written by an anonymous individual, Ms. Fr. 640 comprises 170 folios of recipes, diagrams, and instructions on working with materials like metals, wax, dyes, imitation gem making, insect preservation, and more. Other texts discussed in From Lived Experience include early modern Kunstbücher or “Books of Art” (manuscripts) about medicine, herbs, plants, nature, and navigation.
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