May Day (May 1) is a holiday rich in history and folklore, celebrating the return of spring! Learn about some of the fun traditions, from May Day baskets to dancing around the maypole.
Origins of May Day
Did you know that May Day has its roots in astronomy? Traditionally, it was the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice! In ancient times, this was one of the Celtic cross-quarter days, which mark the midway points between the (four) solstices and equinoxes of the year.
As with many early holidays, May Day was rooted in agriculture. Springtime festivities filled with song and dance celebrated the sown fields starting to sprout. Cattle were driven to pasture, special bonfires were lit, and doors of houses as well as livestock were decorated with yellow May flowers. In the Middle Ages, the Gaelic people celebrated the festival of Beltane. Beltane means “Day of Fire.” People created large bonfires and danced at night to celebrate.
May Day has a long history and tradition in England, some of which eventually came to America. Children would dance around the Maypole holding onto colorful ribbons. People would “bring in the May” by gathering wildflowers and green branches, weaving of floral hoops and hair garlands, and crowning a May king and queen.
The Maypole Dance
Did you ever dance around the Maypole as a child? Wrapping a Maypole with colorful ribbons is a joyous tradition that still exists in some schools and communities.
- Originally, the Maypole was a living tree chosen from the woods with much merrymaking. Ancient Celts danced around the tree, praying for the fertility of their crops and all living things! For younger people, there was the possibility of courtship. If a young woman and man paired by sundown, their courtship continued so that the couple could get to know each other and, possibly, marry 6 weeks later on June’s Midsummer’s Day. This is how the “June wedding” became a tradition.
- In the Middle Ages, all villages had Maypoles. Towns would compete to see who had the tallest or best Maypole. Over time, this Old English festival incorporated dance performances, plays, and literature. People would crown a “May Queen” for the day’s festivities.
The strict Puritans of New England considered the celebrations of May Day to be licentious and pagan, so they forbade its observance, and the springtime holiday never became an important part of American culture as it was in many European countries.
Interestingly, from the late 19th century through the 1950s, the Maypole dance and festivities became a rite of spring at some U.S. colleges. Seen as a wholesome tradition, this celebration often included class plays, Scottish dancing, Morris dancing, a cappella concerts, and cultural dancing and music displays.
In the 1960s and 1970s, interest waned; the May Queen and her court became more of a popularity contest. Today, the Maypole dance is mainly celebrated in schools (from elementary though college) as a fun spring activity.
The Maypole Festival: Courting and Declarations of Love
In Germany it is still celebrated: the Maypole festival. The tree is planted in the village square or the market at the end of April or on May 1. In Limburg and the Achterhoek, a maypole is still placed at the highest point of new houses. In this case too, the maypole symbolizes prosperity and fertility.
Read more about the old traditions and courtship during the Dutch Maypole festivities here:
The Maypole festival occurred in Western Europe, but the festival was also known among the Germanic and West Slavic peoples. The festival heralds the beginning of summer with the accompanying growth and blossoming of nature. The maypole symbolizes fertility. The tradition got a Christian touch during the Middle Ages, according to the church the maypole symbolized Mary, but the original Germanic version survived. That is why there was mainly partying and drinking during the Maypole festival. In the Netherlands, the tradition lasted until the 19th century.
The May Guild and the May Count
The May Guild organized the party, this guild was led by the May Count. He could be recognized by his green crown. The day was dominated by may fires, may songs, parades (‘Meynachten’) and waldhorns made from the bark of a willow or alder. Horns (but also whistles) were blown to chase away the witches and evil spirits.
The green crown
The maypole was colorfully decorated with ribbons, wreaths, crowns, green branches and flowers. It was tradition for the mayor to sit at the maypole, whereupon the girls of the town or village stood in a circle around the tree and sang a maysong. The Maygrave then decided who was his May Countess (also known as May Queen) by throwing his green crown at a girl.
Courtship and Rejection in the 18th and 19th Centuries
In addition to the symbol of prosperity and fertility, the maypole was also seen as a symbol of love. Boys therefore planted maypoles ( maybranch) in front of the houses of the girls they liked. The way the tree was decorated expressed exactly how the boy felt about the girl. This could sometimes be disappointing: if the tree was decorated with thorny flowers, this meant that he thought the girl was haughty. Read Here Jonkheid, venstersvrijen, spinnen ( Importance of social cohesionn for community) – in Dutch
An elder in the maypole meant that the girl was seen as licentious. The cherry branch meant that the girl in question wasn’t particularly picky. A straw doll meant that the girl had fooled a previous love and there were many more symbols. However, the premise of the maypole planting was to declare love.
Well in front of my sweetheart door
I plant, as a lover’s pawn,
The Maypole, sweet with fragrance,
And offer her heart and hand;
And tell her, “Sweet! come happy
Now standing in front of your window;
The sweet May tide,
Oh! done so quickly.”
A new spring and a new sound
A new spring and a new sound: I want this song to sound like the whistle, That I often heard before a summer night In an old town, along the water canal – It was dark in the house, but the quiet street Collected twilight, the sky shone late Still light, a golden white shine fell About the facades in my window frame. Then a boy blew like an organ pipe, The sounds shake in the air so ripe Like young cherries, get used to a spring wind disappears into the bush and begins his journey. (p. 11)
Een nieuwe lente en een nieuw geluid:
Ik wil dat dit lied klinkt als het gefluit,
Dat ik vaak hoorde voor een zomernacht
In een oud stadje, langs de watergracht –
In huis was ’t donker, maar de stille straat
Vergaarde schemer, aan de lucht blonk laat
Nog licht, er viel een gouden blanke schijn
Over de gevels in mijn raamkozijn.
Dan blies een jongen als een orgelpijp,
De klanken schudden in de lucht zoo rijp
Als jonge kersen, wen een lentewind
In ’t boschje opgaat en zijn reis begint.
….This is the beginning of Herman Gorter’s great epic Mei, which appeared in March 1889. The first line is perhaps the most famous line in Dutch literature. Herman Gorter had been working on his May in solitude for months. The great narrative poem Mei has no fewer than 4381 lines of verse. Although he had already written some poems and a shorter epic, ‘Lucifer’, the May was his official debut. It was pre-published in De Nieuwe Gids, the magazine of the Eighties, and made a huge impression at the time. Read here in Dutch
When we begin to look at some of the other elements of the George myth a completely different picture begins to emerge. One of the most telling clues to the genuine mystery behind the George phenomenon is in the name itself.
The word begins and ends with the root Ge. This is one of the oldest words known, occurring in Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek and Indo-European languages. It means Earth. Everyday words still in common use such as Ge-ology or Ge-ography show how persistent this root has been over at least the last six thousand years.
The etymology of George thus appears to show that he may originally have been an Earth-God connected with fertility, whose widespread worship in the ancient world was absorbed by Constantine’s attempts to make early Christianity into an all-inclusive religion that would become a vehicle for Roman bureaucracy. To reinforce this view the Greek translation of the name means ‘Earth-worker’ or ‘Tiller of the soil’.
see also: Time of Spring in Sufism and folklores
St. George and the Miracle of Mons– Belgium
Dragon-slaying in Beersel – Holland
A MEDIEVAL VILLAGE IS THREATENED BY A FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON. HUMAN SACRIFICE APPEARS TO BE THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP THE MONSTER AT BAY. LOTS ARE DRAWN TO DECIDE WHO IS TO SUFFER THIS DREADFUL DEATH. AND THEN, ONE DAY, IT IS THE TURN OF THE KING’S OWN DAUGHTER…THAT IS, UNTIL A BRAVE KNIGHT APPEARS…”
This thrilling and engrossing legend about good and evil is brought to life in a visually theatrical way in an immense open-air spectacle in Beesel in Limburg on the 12-13-14-18-19-20th August 2016.
Snorting steeds; a rebel-rousing rabble and , of course, a terrifying dragon take you back to a mythical age in the past. Different storylines guarantee a varied, fascinating and lively performance with music, song, fights, drama and comedy. With more than 400 actors taking part you will be immersed in the Middle Ages. Share the experiences of the villagers, the army and the royal court – will they be able to defeat the poisonous dragon?
The legend of St. George and the Dragon has been performed in Beesel since 1736. Once every seven years the entire village finds itself involved in the eternal battle between Good and Evil. What began as a short play performed by a small cast has evolved over the years into an Open-Air Pageant enjoyed by 15,000 spectators on six occasions during the month of August. A mature theatre production with a rich background.
On Sunday 21st August, for the third time, a colourful historical parade will thread its way through the streets of Beesel. The parade starts at 14.00 hours and the costs are €3,50 per person. Spectators will find themselves “time-warped” into bygone days – entirely in the atmosphere of “Dragon-slaying”. Thanks to the interactive nature of this historical parade it’s as if you are actually back there in the Middle–Ages.
Tarasque – France and Spain
Throughout Provence, the most southerly part of France, there was a strong medieval tradition that the region was converted to Christianity soon after the death of Jesus, not by one of the apostles but by his personal friends – the family from Bethany, consisting of Mary Magdalene, Martha, and their brother Lazarus, together with two unrelated Marys mentioned in the gospels (the mother of James and John, and Mary Salome). They had all come to live there, fleeing from persecution. At Tarascon, a town near the Spanish border, attention was focused on St Martha, to whom the local church is dedicated. Read more here
The earliest Life of St Martha was written in Latin at some time between 1187 and 1212. One episode tells how, soon after coming to Tarascon, she heard that people there were terrorised by ‘a huge dragon, part land animal and part fish’ which lived in a forest beside the Rhône and had killed many people passing the spot or crossing the river. Attempts to destroy it always failed, since it would hide underwater. The description of the monster is vivid and detailed, and by no means that of a conventional dragon:
It was fatter than an ox, longer than a horse, with a lion’s face and head, teeth as sharp as swords, a horse’s mane, its back as sharp as an axe, bristling and piercing scales, six feet with bear’s claws, a serpent’s tail, and a shell on either side like a tortoise.
La Tarasca (del francés Tarasque, y éste del topónimo de la localidad de Tarascón, en Ariege, Francia) es una criatura mitológica cuyo origen se encuentra en una leyenda sobre Santa Marta. See here
More than four others – Who is not afraid of anything – Frisian Folkstale
At that time there lived in the Grinzer Pein (Friesland) a young man who was called out that he was not afraid of anything. When a ferry had to be dug, he got a job there. He joined the team with twenty westerners. Those twenty westerners were as lazy as duckweed. They wanted him to do the work, so he got into trouble with them. Then they said, “If you don’t work, we’ll cut you in pieces.” But the young man laughed and said, “You should try that first.” And then those twenty westerners came up to him with open knives , but he knocked them down one by one, for he was not afraid. And that same evening, near the new ferry, one of the Westerners was found cut into strips. But that joung man had not done that, his own comrades wanted to get rid of that westerner. And because the young servant had fought with him, they thought, he will be blamed.
That turned out to be the case, because the nineteen westerners testified that he must have been the murderer of their comrade. He went to court, and because he would not confess, he was put on the rack, but he maintained his innocence, for he was not afraid of anything, not even the pain. Desesperate, they called a wizard, a real wizard. He had to scare him so he confessed. The wizard had him tied on a chair; then he was powerless. But they had tortured him so much that he could hardly speak.
And then he was given a cup of warm milk to drink. The magician looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at the ground in front of you!’ And then the young man noticed that his ten toes had turned into ten snakes. They grew out of his toes, they grew bigger and bigger and came closer and closer to his head. But he made those snakes drink one by one from the hot milk from the cup he had in his hands. The snakes writhed together again and fell asleep at his feet.
The wizard asked, “Aren’t you scared yet?” But he replied, “You haven’t got any of those beasts yet, because my cup isn’t empty yet.” Then the wizard turned the boy’s hair into flames and said that he would be consumed by these flames. But the young man asked: ‘Do you have tobacco in your pocket? I don’t have any tobacco with me, but my pipe does. Stop it in front of me for a moment, so I can at least light it on the flames and don’t have to use a match’.
And the third was that the sorcerer sat before him and said: If you will not confess, you will be sent to hell. ‘But the young servant laughed, for he was not afraid. The wizard looked straight at him and then the young man noticed that his body was turning into a skeleton. The magician said:
“Aren’t you scared yet? Remember – this is how you go to hell and stay there!” “Oh,” he said, “why should I be afraid? Such an old charnel house as I am now – there is no one in hell who knows me.” And he did not bow the neck.
However, he was sentenced to death. The executioner appeared and he was to be cut into four. He was already on the block to be chopped in four, then they asked him if he wasn’t scared yet. “No,” he said, “why should I be afraid? Our father always said I was worth more than four others. And if you cut me in four here, you’ll be dealing with not one, but four men in a minute.’ And he was not quartered, but they took him back to the cell.
That same night the devil came to him and left nothing to frighten him. He told him the most horrible stories and transformed himself into the most horrible forms. The devil became an old woman, with teeth as large and as sharp as razors, and threatened to bite his throat. The devil became a dragon with seven heads that spewed fire at him. He became a very large snake, with a mouth so wide that it could eat it in one sitting. But the young servant was not afraid. Only when the devil finally asked him if he felt any fear at all did he say, “No, I don’t, but you do!
And he began to tease him so furiously, he made such hideous noises, and he drew such crooked faces, that even the devil became frightened and threw himself to the ground and blew the retreat.
The judges came to the conclusion that a person that even the devil fears can never be a murderer. And he was acquitted…
Spring Festivity at Steigra – Germany
One of the four historical labyrinths in Germany is situated at Steigra in the Burgenlandkreis district in Saxony-Anhalt. It is also named Sweden Ring or Troy Town.
The layout is the classical type with 11 circuits. The exact time of origin is uncertain. Much points to the 17th century, in addition, an older origin would be conceivable. It lies beside a hill grave.
The turf labyrinth of Steigra kept over centuries. Nowadays it is maintained annually by the confirmands of the locality. The patron saint of the parish church is St George, and there is even a tavern St George.
Annually on Saturday after April 23, the day of St George, takes place a spring celebration at the labyrinth. This year that was on April 26, 2008. Read more here
Among the Wunderkreise there are some variations:
- Some with two entries like the Zeiden Wunderkreis
- Some with one access, but a bifurcation such as the Russian Babylons and the examples of Kaufbeuren or Eberswalde
- Some with a nearly perfect double spiral like the Zeiden Wunderkreis
- Some with a “pulled apart” double spiral such as the Russian Babylons, the example of Eberswalde and some Swedish and Finnish examples
Breamore Mizmaze, Hampshire, England
Historically, a turf maze is a labyrinth made by cutting a convoluted path into a level area of short grass, turf or lawn. Some had names such as Mizmaze, Troy Town, The Walls of Troy, Julian’s Bower, or Shepherd’s Race (see Maze names, below). This is the type of maze referred to by William Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 2, Scene 2) when Titania says:
The nine men’s morris is fill’d up with mud;
and the quaint mazes in the wanton green,
for lack of tread are undistinguishable.
In some turf labyrinths, the groove cut in the turf is the path to be walked (sometimes marked with bricks or gravel); more commonly the turf itself forms the raised path which is marked out by shallow channels excavated between its twists and turns.
- Sun Dance of the Native Spirits
The Sun Dance is the most sacred ritual of Plains Indians, a ceremony of renewal and cleansing for the tribe and the earth. Primarily male dancers—but on rare occasions women too—perform this ritual of regeneration, healing and self-sacrifice for the good of one’s family and tribe. But, in some tribes, such as the Blackfeet, the ceremony is led by a medicine woman. It has been practiced primarily by tribes in the Upper Plains and Rocky Mountain, especially the Arapaho, Arikara, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Hidatsa, Sioux, Plains Cree, Plains Ojibway, Omaha, Ponca, Ute, Shoshone, Kiowa, and Blackfoot tribes.
The Sun Dance is a ceremony practiced by some Native Americans and Indigenous peoples in Canada, primarily those of the Plains cultures. It usually involves the community gathering together to pray for healing. Individuals make personal sacrifices on behalf of the community See more here.
Usually the ceremony was practiced at the summer solstice, the time of longest daylight and lasts for four to eight days. Typically, the Sun Dance is a grueling ordeal, that includes a spiritual and physical test of pain and sacrifice. This ritual usually—but not always—involves piercing rawhide thongs through the skin and flesh of a dancer’s chest with wooden or bone skewers. The thongs are tied to the skewers then connected to the central pole of the lodge. The Sun Dancers dance around the pole leaning back to allow the thongs to pull their pierced flesh. The dancers do this for hours until the skewered flesh finally rips. The Sun Dance is also a rite of passage to manhood.
Sundance – preparation:
The dance is practiced differently by each tribe, but basic similarities are shared by most rituals. In some instances, the Sun Dance was a private experience involving just one or a few individuals. But many tribes adopted larger rituals that involved the whole tribes or sometimes many tribes gathered to celebrate the Sun Dance together. Lodges or open frames built of trees, rawhide or brush are prepared with a central pole at the center.
Though the dance is practiced differently by different tribes, the Eagle serves as a central symbol in the dance, helping bring body and spirit together in harmony, as does the buffalo, for its essential role in Plains Indian food, clothing, and shelter. Sometimes an eagle’s nest or eagle would be mounted at the top of the center pole. Holy men might also place a dried buffalo penis at the top of the pole to give the dancers virility. And buffalo skulls were placed at the perimeter of the lodge to honor their power and courage. (Some dancers choose to have their flesh pierced through their backs and the rawhide ropes from the skewers are attached to the heavy buffalo skulls. Then the dancers dance on rocks and brush as they drag the heavy skulls. This usually takes longer to rip their flesh.
Tatanka are held in high regard by Native Americans. The tatanka gave up its own flesh and life to provide everything for the people. For Native Americans, the tatanka is a true relative, making life possible for them. Because of their importance, a buffalo symbol or skull is present in all sacred Lakóta rituals. The tatanka represent generosity and self-sacrifice. According to the Lakóta, to give what you have to others is one of the most highly respected way of behaving.
Dancers also blow a whistle made from the wing bone of an eagle that makes the sound of an eagle cry. The whistle is painted with colored dots and lines to represent the keen and precise perception of the eagle. There is also a beautiful eagle feather attached to the end of the whistle that blows back and forth to represent the breath of life.
In Native culture, the wanblí is considered the strongest and bravest of all birds. For this reason, its feathers symbolize what is highest, bravest, strongest, and holiest. When a feather falls to the earth, it is believed to carry all of the bird’s energy, and it is perceived as a gift from the sky, the sea, and the trees. Feathers may arrive unexpectedly but not without a purpose.
Each type of feather represents something different. The wanblí’s feather, however, is one of the most esteemed. An wanblí’s feathers are given to another in honor, and the feathers are displayed with dignity and pride.
Many tribes smoke sage and burn smudge pots of sage, which is believed to conjure spirits and help the dancers. Some tribes also wear wreaths of sage on their heads and wrists. Ancient dances and songs passed down through many generations are offered accompanied by traditional drums, smudge pots of sage are burned over a sacred fire.
The entire tribe prepares for a year before the ceremony and the dancers fast for many days in the open before the dance. The Sun Dance ceremony involves all the tribe. Family members and friends (only Native people are allowed to attend) gather in the surrounding camp to chant, sing and pray in support of the dancers.
If sun dancers have not released themselves from their bloody tethers by sundown, holy men remove the skewers and reverse the piercings to help rip the flesh. In the 1918 definitive book, “The Sundance of the Blackfoot People,” by leading American anthropologist Clark Wissler, he states: “When all thongs are torn out, the lacerated flesh is cut off as an offering to the sun… The author has seen some men extremely scarred from repeated Sun Dance ceremonies…The offering of flesh is called the Blood Sun Dance.” Exhausted dancers would be cared for afterward in a medicine lodge, where holy men and women sung and prayed above them.
The ceremony was extremely arduous and not without its risks. Clark Wissler also wrote: “It is said that all who take this ceremony die in a few years, because it is equivalent to giving one’s self to the sun. Hence, the sun takes them for its own.”
In 1883, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs criminalized the Sun Dance and other sacred religious ceremonies in an effort to discourage indigenous practices and enculturate Native Americans into white society. The prohibition was renewed in 1904 and remained illegal until 1934 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s new administration reversed the decision. During the fifty years the Sun Dance was prohibited, many native tribes defied the law and continued to perform their most sacred dance, usually as part of Fourth of July celebrations!
The eagle is used in heraldry as a charge, as a supporter, and as a crest. Heraldic eagles can be found throughout world history like in the Achaemenid Empire or in the present Republic of Indonesia. The European post-classical symbolism of the heraldic eagle is connected with the Roman Empire on one hand (especially in the case of the double-headed eagle), and with Saint John the Evangelist on the other.
A golden eagle was often used on the banner of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. Eagle (or the related royal bird vareghna) symbolized khvarenah (the God-given glory), and the Achaemenid family was associated with eagle (according to legend, Achaemenes was raised by an eagle). The local rulers of Persis in the Seleucid and Parthian eras (3rd-2nd centuries BC) sometimes used an eagle as the finial of their banner. Parthians and Armenians used eagle banners, too.
In Europe the iconography of the heraldic eagle, as with other heraldic beasts, is inherited from early medieval tradition. It rests on a dual symbolism: On one hand it was seen as a symbol of the Roman Empire (the Roman Eagle had been introduced as the standardised emblem of the Roman legions under consul Gaius Marius in 102 BC); on the other hand, the eagle in early medieval iconography represented Saint John the Evangelist, ultimately based on the tradition of the four living creatures in Ezekiel. Read more here
- Falconry as a Transmutative Art: Dante, Frederick II, and Islam
The imperial eagle – notably, in the form handed down by the Romans to later generations of European rulers – is the hypostasis of an absolute power conceived as “naturally” divine in origin. In contrast, the tamed falcon, at rest on the emperor’s fist or being offered to him by his falconers, became for Frederick II the emblem of an acquired form of wisdom – of a nobility, that is, which must be educated so that its inborn aggressiveness may be restrained and redeployed under the superior command of reason. The falconer thereby becomes the image of the ideal sovereign, he who succeeds in controlling the instinctual aggressiveness of humankind by way of his “taming power.” He is at one and the same time the self-aware and responsible repository of natural law and the guar- antor of positive law, that is, of justice. The study and practice of falconry were therefore for Frederick II the best and noblest ways for the sovereign to deepen his understanding of the laws of the natural and of the human realm; to him they were indispensable tools in his honorably dispatching his mission as universal sovereign….
….If the objective of the Commedia is to save humankind from itself and principally from its self-imposed rapaciousness, then we can usefully ask ourselves which figurative means Dante could call upon to evoke a process of taming and conversion that by its very nature aims at transmuting the individual’s instinctive ego-grasping into an artfully acquired – but nevertheless also gracefully received – form of absolute surrender and self-sacrifice to the highest manifestation of selflessness and boundless love.
How are we to visualize the very nature of a learning process that must be experiential if it is to become effective? Such is, after all, the goal of the Commedia as a whole – in direct opposition, that is, to the treacherous attempts at rational grappling with reality, which leave human pride misleadingly in charge of transcendent affairs. While in our postmodern world of con- cept-based existence there seems to be little or nothing to call upon in order to suggest such a salvific becoming, I hope to have shown persuasively that Dante saw in falconry the art most apt to express that process of surrender and taming of an individual’s own nature, in the form of a return to that very “hand” on whose universal fist the whole world is unknowingly perched. For Dante, no art better than falconry could convey the sense of that sacrificial inner transmutation necessary for human consciousness to awaken to the vision of itself as a pure reflection of the transcendental source of all-encompassing love.
No other art could as powerfully express the potential for universal salvation inscribed within a process meant to make human consciousness cognizant of its own divine origin – of its own participation in, and belonging to the very substance offered by the falconer to the falcon as its only rightful meal, as that “bread of angels” already evoked in the Convivio: purely celestial food, on which life itself unsuspectingly keeps feeding. …. Read the complete paper Falconry as a Transmutative Art: Dante, Frederick II, and Islam
HISTORY OF THE WARLIS
The Warlis are an aboriginal tribe living at the foothills of the Sahyadris in western India.
Warlis were hunters and gatherers living in the forest. With time, they were forced to settle down at the base of the hills, and so, they adopted an agro-pastoral lifestyle.
Waral is brushwood which the original settlers had to clear in order to settle down.
Warul also refers to the brushwood used to burn on the fields as Rab.
This could be the origin of the name of their tribe- Warli
n the book The Painted World of the Warlis Yashodhara Dalmia claimed that the Warli carry on a tradition stretching back to 2500 or 3000 BCE. Their mural paintings are similar to those done between 500 and 10,000 BCE in the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, in Madhya Pradesh.
Their extremely rudimentary wall paintings use a very basic graphic vocabulary: a circle, a triangle and a square. Their paintings were monosyllabic. The circle and triangle come from their observation of nature, the circle representing the sun and the moon, the triangle derived from mountains and pointed trees. Only the square seems to obey a different logic and seems to be a human invention, indicating a sacred enclosure or a piece of land. So the central motive in each ritual painting is the square, known as the “chauk” or “chaukat”, mostly of two types: Devchauk and Lagnachauk. Inside a Devchauk, we find Palaghata, the mother goddess, symbolizing fertility. Significantly, male gods are unusual among the Warli and are frequently related to spirits which have taken human shape. The central motive in these ritual paintings is surrounded by scenes portraying hunting, fishing and farming, festivals and dances, trees and animals. Human and animal bodies are represented by two triangles joined at the tip; the upper triangle depicts the trunk and the lower triangle the pelvis. Their precarious equilibrium symbolizes the balance of the universe, and of the couple, and has the practical and amusing advantage of animating the bodies.
The pared down pictorial language is matched by a rudimentary technique. The ritual paintings are usually done inside the huts. The walls are made of a mixture of branches, earth and cow dung, making a Red Ochre background for the wall paintings. The Warli use only white for their paintings. Their white pigment is a mixture of rice paste and water with gum as a binding. They use a bamboo stick chewed at the end to make it as supple as a paintbrush. The wall paintings are done only for special occasions such as weddings or harvests. The lack of regular artistic activity explains the very crude style of their paintings, which were the preserve of the womenfolk until the late 1970s. But in the 1970s this ritual art took a radical turn, when Jivya Soma Mashe and his son Balu Mashe started to paint, not for any special ritual, but because of his artistic pursuits. Warli painting also featured in Coca-Cola’s ‘Come home on Diwali’ ad campaign in 2010 was a tribute to the spirit of India’s youth and a recognition of the distinct lifestyle of the Warli tribe of Western India.
Tribal Cultural Intellectual Property
Warli Painting is the cultural intellectual property of the tribal community. Today, there is an urgent need for preserving this traditional knowledge in tribal communities across the globe. Understanding the need for intellectual property rights, the tribal non-profit Organisation “Adivasi Yuva Seva Sangh” initiated efforts to start a registration process in 2011. Now, Warli Painting is registered with a Geographical Indication under the intellectual property rights act. With the use of technology and the concept of social entrepreneurship, Tribals established the Warli Art Foundation, a non-profit company dedicated to Warli art and related activities.
Warli legends say that the Gods went to the potter fly or Gungheri Raja to ask for balls of mud to make the earth which was flooded with water. Read here the Mystical World of Warli
The Warli Painting tradition in Maharashtra are among the finest examples of the folk style of paintings. The Warli tribe is one of the largest in India, located outside of Mumbai. Despite being close to one of the largest cities in India, the Warli reject much of contemporary culture. Warli paintings of Maharashtra revolve around the marriage of God Palghat.The style of Warli painting was not recognised until the 1970s, even though the tribal style of art is thought to date back as early as 10th century A.D. The Warli culture is centered on the concept of Mother Nature and elements of nature are often focal points depicted in Warli painting. Farming is their main way of life and a large source of food for the tribe. They greatly respect nature and wildlife for the resources that they provide for life. Warli artists use their clay huts as the backdrop for their paintings, similar to how ancient people used cave walls as their canvases.
Jivya Soma Mashe, the artist in Thane district has played a great role in making the Warli paintings more popular. He has been honoured with a number of national and central level awards for his paintings. In the year 2011, he was awarded Padmashree.
A tarpa player c.1885
These rudimentary wall paintings use a set of basic geometric shapes: a circle, a triangle, and a square. These shapes are symbolic of different elements of nature. The circle and the triangle come from their observation of nature. The circle represents the sun and the moon, while the triangle depicts mountains and conical trees. In contrast, the square renders to be a human invention, indicating a sacred enclosure or a piece of land. The central motif in each ritual painting is the square, known as the “chauk” or “chaukat”, mostly of two types known as Devchauk and Lagnachauk. Inside a Devchauk is usually a depiction of palaghat, the mother goddess, symbolizing fraternity.
Male gods are unusual among the Warli and are frequently related to spirits which have taken human shape. The central motif in the ritual painting is surrounded by scenes portraying hunting, fishing, and farming, and trees and animals. Festivals and dances are common scenes depicted in the ritual paintings. People and animals are represented by two inverse triangles joined at their tips: the upper triangle depicts the torso and the lower triangle the pelvis. Their precarious equilibrium symbolizes the balance of the universe. The representation also has the practical and amusing advantage of animating the bodies. Another main theme of Warli art is the denotation of a triangle that is larger at the top, representing a man; and a triangle which is wider at the bottom, representing a woman.[better source needed] Apart from ritualistic paintings, other Warli paintings covered day-to-day activities of the village people.
One of the central aspects depicted in many Warli paintings is the tarpa dance. The tarpa, a trumpet-like instrument, is played in turns by different village men. Men and women entwine their hands and move in a circle around the tarpa player. The dancers then follow him, turning and moving as he turns, never turning their backs to the tarpa. The musician plays two different notes, which direct the head dancer to either move clockwise or counterclockwise. The tarpa player assumes a role similar to that of a snake charmer, and the dancers become the figurative snake. The dancers take a long turn in the audience and try to encircle them for entertainment. The circle formation of the dancers is also said to resemble the circle of life.
Warli painting from Thane district
The simple pictorial language of Warli painting is matched by a rudimentary technique. The ritual paintings are usually created on the inside walls of village huts. The walls are made of a mixture of branches, earth and red brick that make a red ochre background for the paintings. The Warli only paint with a white pigment made from a mixture of rice flour and water, with gum as a binder. A bamboo stick is chewed at the end to give it the texture of a paintbrush. Walls are painted only to mark special occasions such as weddings, festivals or harvests. They make it with a sense that it can be seen by future generations.
In contemporary culture
The lack of regular artistic activity explains the traditional tribal sense of style for their paintings. In the 1970s, this ritual art took a radical turn when Jivya Soma Mashe and his son Balu Mashe started to paint. They painted not for ritual purposes, but because of their artistic pursuits. Jivya is known as the modern father of Warli painting. Since the 1970s, Warli painting has moved onto paper and canvas.
Coca-Cola India launched a campaign featuring Warli painting in order to highlight the ancient culture and represent a sense of togetherness. The campaign was called “Come Home on Deepawali” and specifically targeted the modern youth. The campaign included advertising on traditional mass media, combined with radio, the Internet, and out-of-home media.
Traditional knowledge and intellectual property
Warli Painting is traditional knowledge and cultural intellectual property preserved across generations. Understanding the urgent need for intellectual property rights, the tribal non-governmental organization Adivasi Yuva Seva Sangh helped to register Warli painting with a geographical indication under the intellectual property rights act. Various efforts are in progress for strengthening sustainable economy of the Warli with social entrepreneurship.
Kill your Dragon
“Our only purpose is to give our love, respect and service to God but if given the opportunity every person would be a pharaoh. His ego would declare itself the highest lord. We must kill the dragon that is our ego and then we will find Allah with us and around us and within us” Sheikh Nazim al Haqqani
Looking to the Spiritual vertical way, as the Maypole do, gives us an opportunity of discerning an understanding between Non-Virtues and Virtues, developing Spiritual values needed in our times :. Read here: Maypole the Principle of verticality
by the moon when she followeth him
by the day, when it showeth its splendor
by the night, when it covereth him with darkness
by the heaven, and him who built it
by the earth, and him who spread it forth
by the soul, and him who completely formed it
and inspired into the same its faculty of distinguishing, and power of choosing, wickedness and piety: now is he who hath purified the same, happy
but he who hath corrupted the same, is miserable.
1-10 Good and evil
BY the Sun, and its rising brightness by the moon when she followeth himby the day, when it showeth its splendorby the night, when it covereth him with darknessby the heaven, and him who built itby the earth, and him who spread it forthby the soul, and him who completely formed itand inspired into the same its faculty of distinguishing, and power of choosing, wickedness and piety: now is he who hath purified the same, happybut he who hath corrupted the same, is miserable.
The first part deals with three things:-:
1-That just as the sun and the moon, the day and the night, the earth and the sky, are different from each other and contradictory in their effects and results, so are the good and the evil different front each other and contradictory in their effects and results; they are neither alike in their outward appearance nor can they be alike in their results.
2-That God after giving the human self powers of the body, sense and mind has not left it uninformed in the world, but has instilled into his unconscious by means of a natural inspiration the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, and the sense of the good to be good and of the evil to be evil.
3-That the future of man depends on how by using the powers of discrimination, will and judgement that Allah has endowed him with, he develops the good and suppresses the evil tendencies of the self. If he develops the good inclination and frees his self of the evil inclinations, he will attain to eternal success, and if, on the contrary, he suppresses the good and promotes the evil, he will meet with disappointment and failure. Sahl al-Tustari (d. 896), a Sufi and scholar of the Qur’an, mentions, “By the day when it reveals her [the sun],He said:This means: the light of faith removes the darkness of ignorance and extinguishes the flames of the Fire.