Corn Dollies

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Grymm
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Corn Dollies

Post by Grymm »

Neopagan BS aside can anyone point me towards any actual pre Victorian sources for the production of corn dollies?
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Type16
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Type16 »

M. Lambeth describes origins in 'Discovering Corn Dollies' - although precise dates are not given -- as I suppose we would expect.
Generally the early dollies are describes as decorted sheaves -- in many countries.
Page 5 gives a variety of names.
"In France at the time of Henry IV the peasants called their straw figures and their supper the Harvest Gosling". This name is repeated in a book called The Golden Bough of 1890.

A neat little book worth getting.
Biblography at end of book.
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by SteveC »

Type16 wrote:"In France at the time of Henry IV the peasants called their straw figures and their supper the Harvest Gosling". This name is repeated in a book called The Golden Bough of 1890.
I wouldn't trust something in the Golden Bough without some other confirmation. Frazer was writing to support a particular thesis.

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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Type16 »

Golden Bough.
Yes, read the publishers notes on the online copy. Agreed,
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Grymm »

Can't even find any records of the puritan types during the Commonwealth banning them, they banned or vocally disapproved of everything else that smacked of heresy, idolism etc bugger! bugger! bugger! S looking more and more like it's a Victorian reboot of Merrie Olde England stuffe ...

I've come to view the Golden Bough as some of that neopagan bs I mentioned
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Type16 »

I would suggest that the dollies as we now know them - woven wheat - are very much Victorian. However, the concept of corn sheaves being decorated at harvest end is reputed to go back to Egyptians.

On another slant, the methods of weaving done on current dollies is simple and ancient. Bacically the same as splicing a rope (wall or crown splices) and very similar to flat and tubular (eg. finger) braidings Both skills have been done since antiquity. Then there are the usual basketry skills, used since ancient times.

I think that this is a case where the 'absence of evidence' is not surprising as the skills used were commonplace. Evidence of absence pre-Victorian? Unlikely.
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Brother Ranulf »

Not quite the same thing but on the same lines is an interesting article on medieval harvest perquisites, which includes some manorial peasants being permitted the final sheafs gathered at harvest as a customary right - although the regulations varied considerably around England. I was able to download it as a .pdf file but it now seems to be in the realms of the dreaded JSTOR at http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4 ... 0921608891

I wonder if this medieval practice is not the origin of corn dollies?
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Type16 »

Thankyou. JStor article very interesting. Just wish I could read the whole thing.
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Type16 »

Amend my comment!

Just googled title & got the pdf

http://www.bahs.org.uk/AGHR/ARTICLES/25n2a2.pdf
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Brother Ranulf »

That doesn't look like the same article, but a follow-up (hay rather than corn). If you let me have your email address I could send the .pdf file to you.
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Type16 »

Thanks - thats really helpful.
I will pm you.
Cheers, Andy
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Grymm »

Okay from an 18thC translation of 'Paul Hentzer's Travels in England During The Reign of Queen Elizabeth, circa 1598


"As we were retuning to our inn, we happened to meet some country people celebrating their harvest-home; their last load of corn they crown with flowers, having besides an image richly dressed, by which, perhaps, they would signify Ceres; this they keep moving about, while men and women, men and maid servants, riding through the streets in the cart, shout as loud as they can till they arrive at the barn. The farmers here do not bind up their corn in sheaves, as they do with us, but directly as they have reaped or mowed it, put it into carts, and convey it into their barns."

Trouble is it they don't mention what the image is made from =o/
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Tom H »

Again not dollies, but there are two sheaves hanging above the table, loosely resembling figures, in Bruegel's Peasant Wedding Feast http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peasant_Wedding which are reminiscent of the hanging up of corn dollies above the feasting table in the later reinvention of a harvest festival in 19th century. Bit of a tangent, but may help...

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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Lady Cecily »

Type16 wrote:On another slant, the methods of weaving done on current dollies is simple and ancient. Bacically the same as splicing a rope (wall or crown splices) and very similar to flat and tubular (eg. finger) braidings Both skills have been done since antiquity. Then there are the usual basketry skills, used since ancient times.
Rather strangely I was taught by my Dad to make, rattles and horns of plenty from fresh rushes (Juncas Inflexus) using the same system. Obviously because the rushes were fresh when they dried the items fell apart. I don't think they had any significance other than to keep small children amused.
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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by purple peril »

Unsurprisingly, the Pitt-Rivers collections are very informative.
http://england.prm.ox.ac.uk/englishness ... phies.html

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Re: Corn Dollies

Post by Type16 »

I don't know why I didn't mention this before. The 13th cent jug I had made for me was copied from this original.

To me it clearly shows corn dollies

http://education.gtj.org.uk/en/item1/25927
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