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craftsman's art and music's measure
for thy pleasure all combine.


Medieval Guilds

Professional skills and techniques were closely guarded secrets of each medieval guild. Known as the art and mystery of the craft they were taught to apprentices, who were sworn to secrecy. The word mystery is derived from the Latin misterium meaning "occupation".

Each trade and occupation in a town was regulated by a guild, which was responsible for:

  • training apprentices, including their moral education
  • setting standards and regulations, including professional ethics
  • granting the right to work in the town

Mystery Plays

In some of the larger cities of Europe, a series of plays in the vernacular language based on stories from the Bible were presented. Because each guild presented a story related to their occupation, they became known as mystery plays.

The popularity of these plays was due to their relevance and contribution to issues of personal faith, communal celebration and theatrical entertainment. These three concepts are evident in the individual texts and the relevance of each play to the medieval working community. Folk music and working conditions permeated the original productions in which actors communicate their family trade, as well as their character from the story. The Craft Guilds approached their performance with pride and integrity.

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Arts and Crafts Movement

Social values and the artistic quality of manufactured products were at the heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement, inspired by the writings of John Ruskin, who later became chair of Fine Arts at Oxford University.

Ruskin quotes

I believe the right question to ask, respecting all ornament, is simply this; was it done with enjoyment, was the carver happy while he was about it?

The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.

Every great person is always being helped by everybody; for their gift is to get good out of all things and all persons.

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