In Search of Prester John – Part 1…

Written in 1988 by Heather Daveno. Continued on Part 2, including End Notes

As I was researching the wives of the Mongolian khans, I ran across a reference to a tribe called the Kerait¹ – a Christian tribe of Turko-Eurasian ethnicity who had been absorbed by the Mongolian Federation of Tribes under Chinghis Khan during the 12th century. The women of this tribe, with their auburn hair, fair skin and gray or green eyes, were so renowned for their beauty, that they are credited with saving their tribe from obliteration by serving as wives and concubines to the great Mongolian khans. 

These women introduced two little known characteristics into the Mongolian ruling families — auburn hair and pale eyes into an occasional offspring, and an obscure form of Christianity.

Missionaries from a Christian sect known as Nestorianism converted the Keraits, along with the Naiman and Merkit tribes, early in the 11th century. These Asian Christians became very different theologically from their counterparts in the West, and were perceived by Westerners as a strange and mythical cult. From this perception grew the fantastical legend of Prester John. 

Read more about this fascinating piece of history below.

A Thirteenth Century Ger…

The ger, or yurt as it is commonly called, is one of two forms of portable housing that have been used by Central Asian nomads for centuries, dating back to the Scythians. The ger remains today as the primary form of portable housing on the Himalayan Plateau and the Central Asian Steppes.

My study of gers reflects their usage by the nomads of Tibet, Mongolia and China during the time of Marco Polo. You may download this article below.

Medicinal teas of the East and West during the medieval period…

This article compares a selection of herbs which were used as medicinal teas in both Western Europe and Asia during the medieval period. I have included personal notes regarding color, smell and taste comparisons on those herbs which were available to me at the time that I wrote this article. It was first published in ‘A Watched Pot’ Spring 1985, a medieval culinary journal published quarterly in the Pacific NW. This article has been amended from its original.

CAUTION: THIS ARTICLE IS NOT INTENDED AS MEDICAL ADVICE. Please consult your doctor before trying these teas if you are pregnant or have significant health issues, or if you are taking medication that may react to any these herbs, singularly or in combination.