페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

being caught or cut by the flying sickles which the infuriated reapers hurled after him. In other cases the Hag was brought home to the farm-house by one of the reapers. He did his best to bring it home dry and without being observed ; but he was apt to be roughly handled by the people of the house, if they suspected his errand. Sometimes they stripped him of most of his clothes, sometimes they would drench him with water which had been carefully stored in buckets and pans for the purpose. If, however, he succeeded in bringing the Hag in dry and unobserved, the master of the house had to pay him a small fine ; or sometimes a jug of beer “from the cask next to the wall,” which seems to have commonly held the best beer, would be demanded by the bearer. The Hag was then carefully hung on a nail in the hall or elsewhere and kept there all the year. The custom of bringing in the Hag (wrach) into the house and hanging it up still exists at some farms in North Pembrokeshire, but the ancient ceremonies which have just been described are now discontinued." In County Antrim, down to a few years ago, when the sickle was finally expelled by the reaping machine, the few stalks of corn left standing last on the field were plaited together; then the reapers, blindfolded, threw their sickles at the plaited corn, and whoever happened to cut it through took it home with him and put it over his door. This bunch of corn was called the Carley —probably the same word as Carlin. Similar customs are observed by Slavonic peoples. Thus in Poland the last sheaf is commonly called the Baba, that is, the Old Woman. “In the last sheaf,” it is said, “sits the Baba.” The sheaf itself is also called the Baba, and is sometimes composed of twelve smaller sheaves lashed together.” In some parts of Bohemia the Baba, made out of the last sheaf, has the figure of a woman with a great straw hat. It is carried home on the last harvest-waggon and delivered, along with a garland, to the farmer by two girls. In binding the sheaves the women strive not to be last, for

* D. Jenkyn Evans, in an article * Communicated by my friend Prof. entitled “The Harvest Customs of W. Ridgeway. Pembrokeshire,” Pembroke County * W. Mannhardt, Mythologische

Guardian, 7th December 1895. Forschungen, p. 328.

she who binds the last sheaf will have a child next year." The last sheaf is tied up with others into a large bundle, and a green branch is stuck on the top of it.” Sometimes the harvesters call out to the woman who binds the last sheaf, “She has the Baba,” or “She is the Baba.” She has then to make a puppet, sometimes in female, sometimes in male form, out of the corn; the puppet is occasionally dressed with clothes, often with flowers and ribbons only. The

cutter of the last stalks, as well as the binder of the last

sheaf, was also called Baba ; and a doll, called the Harvestwoman, was made out of the last sheaf and adorned with ribbons. The oldest reaper had to dance, first with this doll, and then with the farmer's wife.” In the district of Cracow, when a man binds the last sheaf, they say, “The Grandfather is sitting in it”; when a woman binds it, they say, “The Baba is sitting in it,” and the woman herself is wrapt up in the sheaf, so that only her head projects out of it. Thus encased in the sheaf, she is carried on the last harvest-waggon to the house, where she is drenched with water by the whole family. She remains in the sheaf till the dance is over, and for a year she retains the name of Baba." In Lithuania the name for the last sheaf is Boba (Old Woman), answering to the Polish name Baba. The Boba is said to sit in the corn which is left standing last." The person who binds the last sheaf or digs the last potato is the subject of much banter, and receives and long retains the name of the Old Rye-woman or the Old Potato-woman." The last sheaf-the Boba—is made into the form of a woman, carried solemnly through the village on the last harvest-waggon, and drenched with water at the farmer's house; then every one dances with it.” In Russia also the last sheaf is often shaped and dressed as a woman, and carried with dance and song to the farmhouse. Out of the last sheaf the Bulgarians make a doll which they call the Corn-queen or Corn-mother ; it is dressed in a woman's shirt, carried round the village, and then thrown into the river in order to secure plenty of rain and dew for

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

II i THE HARVEST QUEEN 18 I

the next year's crop. Or it is burned and the ashes strewn on the fields, doubtless to fertilise them.' The name Queen, as applied to the last sheaf, has its analogies in Northern Europe. Thus Brand quotes from Hutchinson's History of Northumberland the following: “I have seen, in some places, an image apparelled in great finery, crowned with flowers, a sheaf of corn placed under her arm, and a scycle in her hand, carried out of the village in the morning of the conclusive reaping day, with music and much clamour of the reapers, into the field, where it stands fixed on a pole all day, and when the reaping is done, is brought home in like manner. This they call the Harvest Queen, and it represents the Roman Ceres.” ” From Cambridge also Dr. E. D. Clarke reported that “at the Hawkie [harvest-home], as it is called, I have seen a clown dressed in woman's clothes, having his face painted, his head decorated with ears of corn, and bearing about him other symbols of Ceres, carried in a waggon, with great pomp and loud shouts, through the streets, the horses being covered with white sheets: and when I inquired the meaning of the ceremony, was answered by the people, that they were drawing the Harvest Queen.”” Often customs of this sort are practised, not on the harvest-field, but on the threshing-floor. The spirit of the corn, fleeing before the reapers as they cut down the ripe grain, quits the reaped corn and takes refuge in the barn, where it appears in the last sheaf threshed, either to perish under the blows of the flail or to flee thence to the still unthreshed corn of a neighbouring farm." Thus the last corn to be threshed is called the Mother-Corn or the Old Woman. Sometimes the person who gives the last stroke with the flail is called the Old Woman, and is wrapt in the straw of the last sheaf, or has a bundle of straw fastened on his back. Whether wrapt in the straw or carrying it on his back, he is carted through the village amid general laughter. In some districts of Bavaria, Thüringen, etc., the man who threshes the last sheaf is said to have the Old Woman or the Old

1 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 332. Bohn's ed.

* Hutchinson, History of Northum- * Quoted by Brand, op. cit. ii. 22. berland, ii. ad finem, 17, quoted by * W. Mannhardt, Mythol. Forsch. Brand, Popular Antiquities, ii. 20, p. 333 sy.

Corn-woman ; he is tied up in straw, carried or carted about the village, and set down at last on the dunghill, or taken to the threshing-floor of a neighbouring farmer who has not finished his threshing.’ Sometimes in Upper and Middle Franken a dumpling, baked in the shape of an old woman, is set before him ; he is thus said to get the Old Woman.” In Poland the man who gives the last stroke at threshing is called Baba (Old Woman); he is wrapt in corn and wheeled through the village.” Sometimes in Lithuania the last sheaf is not threshed, but is fashioned into female shape and carried to the barn of a neighbour who has not finished his threshing." In some parts of Sweden, when a stranger woman appears on the threshing-floor, a flail is put round her body, stalks of corn are wound round her neck, a crown of ears is placed on her head, and the threshers call out, “Behold the Corn-woman.” Here the stranger woman, thus suddenly appearing, is taken to be the corn-spirit who has just been expelled by the flails from the corn-stalks." In other cases the farmer's wife represents the corn-spirit. Thus in the Commune of Saligné, Canton de Poiret (Vendée), the farmer's wife, along with the last sheaf, is tied up in a sheet, placed on a litter, and carried to the threshing machine, under which she is shoved. Then the woman is drawn out and the sheaf is threshed by itself, but the woman is tossed in the sheet, as if she were being winnowed." It would be impossible to express more clearly the identification of the woman with the corn than by this graphic imitation of threshing and winnowing her. In these customs the spirit of the ripe corn is regarded as old, or at least as of mature age. Hence the names of Mother, Grandmother, Old Woman, and so forth. But in other cases the corn-spirit is conceived as young, sometimes as a child who is separated from its mother by the stroke of the sickle. This last view appears in the Polish custoi.) of calling out to the man who cuts the last handful of corn, “You have cut the navel-string.” In some districts of West

* W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 334. * Ibid. p. 336. * /bid. p. 336. * Hararia, Landes- und Volkskunde * Ibid. p. 356; Baumkultus, p. 612. des Aonigreichs Bayern, iii. 344, 969. 7 W. Mannhardt, Die Äorndamomen,

* W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 334. p. 28.

[graphic]

III THE HARVEST CH/ZD 183

Prussia the figure made out of the last sheaf is called the Bastard, and a boy is wrapt up in it. The woman who binds the last sheaf and represents the Corn-mother is told that she is about to be brought to bed ; she cries like a woman in travail, and an old woman in the character of grandmother acts as midwife. At last a cry is raised that the child is born ; whereupon the boy who is tied up in the sheaf whimpers and squalls like an infant. The grandmother wraps a sack, in imitation of swaddling bands, round the pretended baby, who is carried joyfully to the barn, lest he catch cold in the open air." In other parts of North Germany the last sheaf, or the puppet made out of it, is called the Child, the Harvest-Child, and so on. In the North of England the last handful of corn was cut by the prettiest girl and dressed up as the Kern-Baby or Harvest-Doll ; it was brought home to music, set up in a conspicuous place at the harvest-supper, and generally kept in the parlour for the rest of the year. The girl who cut it was the HarvestQueen.” In the North Riding of Yorkshire the last sheaf gathered in is called the Mell-sheaf, and the expression “We've gotten wer mell” is as much as to say “The harvest is finished.” Formerly a Mell-doll was made out of a sheaf of corn, decked with flowers, arrayed in the costume of a reaper, and carried with music and dancing to the scene of the harvest-supper, which also went by the name of the Mell.”

1 W. Mannhardt, l.c. only woman who sold dolls in Hawick

* Ibid.; Henderson, Folk-lore of the Morthern Counties, p. 87 : Brand, Popular Antiquities, ii. 20, Bohn's ed. : Chambers's Book of Days, ii. 377 sq. Cp. “Notes on Harvest Customs,” Folk-lore Journal, vii. (1889), p. 50. Dr. Murray of the New English Dictionary kindly informs me that the popular etymology which identifies “kern " or “kirn' in this sense with “corn” is entirely mistaken ; and that “baby” or “babbie” in the same phrase means only “doll,” not “insant.” He writes : “Airn-babbie does not mean ‘corn - baby,' but merely Airn-doll, harrest-home doll. Bab, babbie was even in my youth the regular name sor ‘doll” in the district, as it was formerly in England; the

early in the century, and whose toyshop all bairns knew, was known as “Betty o’ the Babs,” Betty of the dolls.”

3 M. C. F. Morris, Yorkshire Folkta/X, pp. 212-214; W. Henderson, Folk-sore of the Morthern Counties of England, p. 88 sq.; Brand, Popular Antiquities, ii. 27 sy/. The sheaf out of which the Mell-doll was made was no doubt the Mell-sheaf, though this is not expressly said. Dr. Joseph Wright, editor of the English Dialect Dictionary, kindly informs me that the word mel/ is well known in these senses in all the northern counties of England down to Cheshire. He tells me that the proposals to connect mell with “meal" or with “maiden" (through a form like the German J/ade/) are

« 이전계속 »