Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Maypole

17C Pieter Gysels (1621-1691) Elegant figures playing Musical Instruments around a Maypole next to a Formal Garden
Centuries of Celebrating Spring
May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. 
1669 Scene before a Maypole near stages with Alkmaar Church in the Background by Salomon van Ruysdael (Dutch Landscape Painter, 1600-1670). 
In England, permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.  In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.
This painting is a copy of a painted wooden over-mantle, possibly showing the village of Weybridge c 1699-1701.  In this painting, many figures in 18C costume are depicted dancing around a painted wooden maypole. The painting is alleged to show the maypole set up on near the Ship Inn with the High Street in background.  Until the late 18C, Weybridge was as a very small village with a river crossing, seed milling to make flour & nurseries which would continue to provide the major source of home-grown income for the village until the 20C.
Josef Frans Nollekens (Flemish-born British artist, 1702-1748) May Day with a Maypole up on the hill. Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. 
Maypole at a Country Inn by Johann Peter Neeff (1753-1796) Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebrated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.
1741 The Milkmaid’s Garland, or Humours of May Day, Francis Hayman.  In ancient spring-times, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. 
18C Jan Josef Horemans II. (1714-1790) Villagers Making Merry with Maypole in Background.  Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. 
1767 Printed for Robert Sayer, London.  
Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within. In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. 
Jan Josef Horemans the Elder (Dutch artist, 1682-1759),  Spring & Dancing Around The Maypole.  
On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. 
1761–1770 John Collet (British artist, c.1725–1780) A Satire of a May Day Scene in London.  
Fire is a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants mark the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. 
1800s Robert Walker Macbeth (1848-1910) - Maypole scene depicting an earlier era.  In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  
Frederick Goodall (British artist, 1822-1904) Here Goodall depicts the Raising the Maypole from an earlier era. 
Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.
May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.
In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve.
In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. 
1890 Golden Yellow Raspberries and Children Playing Maypole on Seed Catalog
Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

19C Spring Idyll by George Henry Boughton (1833–1905)

George Henry Boughton (American artist, 1833–1905) Spring Idyll (Hoping this is the most accurate of the several attributions.)

Friday, May 20, 2022

18C Personification of Spring published by Robert Sayer London in 1750

1750 Spring Published by Robert Sayer London

Here Spring is once again depicted as a fashionably-dressed young woman with flowers in her hair, picking a rose from a bush on the right, holding others in her apron, She is resting her elbow on a parapet overlooking a garden. In the background, a man is leaning against a garden balustrade and a couple stand in front of a domed garden temple.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Myth & War Then & Now - Minerva, Goddess of War

1670s Style of John Michael Wright (British artist, 1617-1694) Elizabeth Washington (c.1655–1693), Lady Ferrers, as Minerva

WAR THEN

Minerva (Pallas Athena in Greek) was one of the most important of the ancient Greek & Roman goddesses. She was originally a goddess of war, hence her armor & spear. Her role later expanded to goddess of War, Trade, Wisdom & the Arts. (That definition including Trade & War surely reflects modern motives.)  She was fierce & brilliant. From 2C BC onwards, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena, goddess of music, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, & magic.

Artists in the 15-18C sometimes painted their clients as allegories or personifications, & often painters would put the faces of their patrons or sponsors on the bodies of the saints.  These came to be called donor portraits.  

Allegorical portraits remained popular; and as time passed, they expanded to show the sitter as a goddess, or muse, or nymph in in a rustic setting.  These allegories grew to include strong portraits of Minerva wearing idealized attire, nothing like the clothing worn by actual women of the period.  Dressing scantily or provocatively would have been frowned upon if a proper lady was sitting for a portrait in contemporary clothing, but if she were posing as an ancient goddess or muse, a little skin was acceptable.

WAR NOW - Helping Ukraine restore its sovereignty. 

This Russian incursion on the Ukraine seems like more than the usual saber-rattling & a little border skirmish to expand & restore its ancient trade routes. Massive war crimes in the name of trade expands the consequences. Russia has 800 miles of border on its West; & both Sweden (neutral for 200 years) & Finland (neutral since the end of WWII) are considering joining the NATO alliance.

WAR NOW - National & International ...

Years of intermittent repetitive fatal weapon attacks are increasing at schools, businesses, houses of worship, public & private gatherings, entertainment & sports events, both at home & abroad The USA is in sort of a wash, rinse, repeat cycle as a result of few. if any, laws being passed to deal with these incidents,-

Several unchecked moves contribute to this - 

Online social media radicalization & hate speech. Permissive internet culture.  Online radicalization & hate speech.

Claims of pushing critical race theory in every US K-12 curriculum & colleges & universities

Rising racism against Blacks, Immigrants, Asians, LGBTQ, Jews...  Racism has gone from fringe to mainstream

The role of women controlling their own bodies & futures is diminishing. Local Governments & the Supreme Court now decide. Nationally women only got the right to vote in 1920. Looks like they may be heading backwards...

Easy access to guns.

State by state passing more partisan racial & party Gerrymandering in an attempt to control election results & therefore, laws & administration. Nationally perhaps expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court & initiating term limits could. But in the end, the vote in a democracy is the most non-violent response that most have. 

18C Personification of Spring from Carrington Bowles 1766

1766 Spring Published by Carington Bowles After Robert Pyle done by James Watson London

Here Spring is a stylish young woman standing on garden terrace, adding a rose to flowers in her apron. Her elbow rests on the garden plinth of an urn covered in a trailing plant. A basket of flowers sits on the plinth.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers

 

Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

17C Spring on Earth by William Marshall (British printmaker, 1617-1649)

William Marshall (British printmaker, 1617-1649) The Elements - Earth

Spring is the perfect time to celebrate Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

17C Spring Woman by Jean Leblond 1605-1666

Jean Leblond 1605-1666 La Bavolette; Jean Leblond I (Published by); François Ragot (Print made by); Young woman holding flowers in left hand.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Coptic Artisans: History of Egyptian Textiles


The Louvre



History of Egyptian Textiles RAWI's ISSUE 6, 2014 by Seif El Rashidi  

...The importance of Egypt's textile industry is reflected in medieval documents, the diversity of preserved textiles – some referencing Pharaonic motifs & classical legends...The country’s reputation as a textile producer probably dates back almost 2,000 years. All it takes is a look at some of the textiles from the third to the twelfth centuries to see why. Exquisitely woven, elaborately designed & beautifully coloured, textiles produced in Egypt were so prized that they were traded all over the Mediterranean & beyond.

Fourth/fifth-century Coptic textile fragment (linen, wool) original; provenance: Akhmim. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tens of thousands of textiles survive from the period predating the Arab conquest of Egypt, a time when most Egyptians were Christian & funerary rites involved burying people in their best clothes – often very finely-woven tunics. The arid climate has preserved these in excellent condition, providing a real insight into the world of Egyptian textiles. Because Muslim tradition was to bury the dead in simple shrouds, far fewer decorated textiles survive from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. Fortunately, however, this is a period when documentary evidence is rich, thanks to sources like the Geniza of the synagogue in Old Cairo, where thousands of documents bearing God’s name were preserved, as per Jewish tradition. Among such documents are contracts, letters to & from merchants, bills, & receipts, all of which clarify the important place that textiles had in Egyptian society.

Goitein, the German Arabist scholar who spent a lifetime painstakingly reading through the Geniza documents, discovered that textile production was a well-developed field, with highly specialized craftsmen who dealt with different stages of the production process. Documents from the 10C-12C refer to extremely specific professions, some of which still survive in Egyptian family names like al-Naqqadi (the unraveller of silk),  al-Qattan (the preparer of flax), & al-Qazzaz (the silk weaver), all reflections of the sophistication of the industry. Perhaps less well-known is that dyers were often specialized in the production of a certain colour, or in the use of certain types of dyes – probably reflecting specific techniques of extracting dyes & ensuring that the colours would not run or fade. Thus, there are documents referring to dyers as al-qirimisini (the dyer of crimson), al-zaafarani (the saffron-dyer), or al-sammaq (referring to the use of sumaq), for example...

Fifth-century fragment of garment: square tapestry panel in polychrome wool depicting bird and ankh-within-wreath. The British Museum

Surviving Coptic textiles, which usually date from between the 5C-8C, show an incredible variety of patterns & motifs. Most surviving examples are actually tapestries, meaning that the designs are woven as part of the fabric itself, not applied to an existing fabric later, as embroidery or printed designs are. It is said that tapestry is one of the hardest art forms, as one creates & decorates the ‘canvas’ at the same time...

The range of surviving textiles is broad – many are garments...but some are household textiles, such as curtains, or wall hangings. Many of these, especially the earlier ones, are classical in taste, & bear strong resemblance to Roman mosaics, often managing to create the idea of shading very effectively, despite the difficulty of the medium...