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An ancient spiritual art form still survives.

Discussion in 'Fine Art and Design' started by rocala, Aug 6, 2022.

  1. rocala

    rocala Active Member

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    I recently spent some time in Derbyshire, England. It was a time for an activity peculiar (I think) to that county, ‘Well Dressing’. I had never heard of it before so I was given a brief introduction and I did a little research too.

    My interest really picked up when I was told that it is ancient and probably pre-Christian in origin. In pagan times it is believed, that wells throughout Britain and Ireland were considered special, perhaps sacred and at certain times they were decorated.

    In Derbyshire, this practice has evolved in a particular way. A large wooden frame is filled with clay. An artist makes a design on paper which is laid on top. Then every line of the drawing is perforated with needle pricks. It takes hundreds.

    Sections are then peeled off and a particular ingredient is pushed into the clay. Everything used comes from nature. Ours included petals, very small flowers, onion skin, orange peel, charcoal, peppercorns, various seeds, husks, and lichen.

    The work was painstaking. Using seeds and charcoal was o.k. but the petals were hard going. The ends or the sides had to be tucked in with a needle, but they tore easily or got soiled by moist clay. I have never concentrated so hard in my life.

    I had offered to help out but it quickly became a passion. The hours would fly by and it was deeply satisfying.

    The diagram was based on the painting ‘The Hand of God’ by Korean artist Yongsung Kim.

    The Hand of God

    The finished item is bigger than it looks. It took four people to lift it. The picture was taken from the top of a ladder. I am deeply grateful to the Bamford Quakers for letting me take part.

    Bamford Well Dressing.jpg
     
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  2. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    So, this was then placed over a well head?
     
  3. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    I learned something new today. Thanks.

    That's a nice picture.
     
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  4. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    Here in my part of the U.S., people like to make decorative 'well heads' to put out in their yards, and then plant flowers and things in and around them. Now I'm wondering if there is some long lost connection to this ritual of dressing wells as a way of showing gratitude for their life-giving properties. Very interesting.

    I've even made and sold some to my neighbors ...

    Well.jpg
     
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  5. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Leaderless Animal

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    I live in Staffordshire and it's a thing here too :)

    - Well Dressing and Well Flowering Customs in England
     
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  6. rocala

    rocala Active Member

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    From what I saw and heard they are usually stood up. The one I have shown was to be placed on a bench.
     
  7. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    We were very proud of our well from where we got drinking water even after piped water was available. It was supposed to turn men into He-men, and the water was considered very digestive. Otherwise, with Indians, it is bathing in a lake (Pushkar in Rajasthan where Lord Brahma is supposed to have rested after creating the universe, Amritsar in Punjab, etc.) or the various rivers, where millions gather all the time.

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Heyo

    Heyo Veteran Member

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    Well dressing is also a tradition in Franconia. It's done during Easter and less elaborate than your picture, usually just garlands and flowers - and eggs. Osterbrunnen – Brauchwiki (Link is in German)
     
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  9. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    I found a photograph of our well in Jodhpur. It is much different from what it was in my childhood when it was in a forlorn sandy patch outside the city walls. Now the whole area is populated, they have a museum there (for God knows what?). The well has been beautified but I do not think anyone draws water from there. I won't, the water will not have the same properties.
    Four generations of my family drank water from this well - my great grandpa, grandpa, father and myself. Servants used to bring the water in pitchers. It involved some walk, climbing some stairs and then descending (while passing through the city wall gate), each way. For bathing and other uses, we used the tap water.

    Taparia Bera, Chandpole, Jodhpur (Taparia meant with a roof):
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    #9 Aupmanyav, Aug 7, 2022
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2022
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  10. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle 'Some of you humans are just so funny!'
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    Did the 'Hope' allude to the place? We had a caving hut at Castleton and saw much of the surrounding area at the time - several decades ago.
     
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  11. rocala

    rocala Active Member

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    There may well be a reference to the Hope Valley in this but I did not hear it referred to. But then I was not there during the selection and planning stage. I would not be surprised though. We did a much smaller piece using an out line of a hand of each person present. A blue sky and bright sun was added to the top. The artist referred to it as "reaching for the sun" but added am I saying sun or son, as in Son of God?" She just smiled but would not elaborate. So I suspect these little mysteries may be part of her style.
     
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