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Friday, 21 August 2009


There were lots of happy people arriving at the Green Man Festival yesterday evening. These photos were taken minutes before the heavens opened and it started to shower. According to forecasts it will pretty much be raining on and off the whole weekend. So, what is a Green Man?

A Green Man is a sculpture, drawing, or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Branches or vines may sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Commonly used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found on carvings in churches and other buildings (both secular and ecclesiastical). “The Green Man” is also a popular name for English public houses and various interpretations of the name appear on inn signs, which sometimes show a full figure rather than just the head.

The Green Man motif has many variations. Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or “renaissance,” representing the cycle of growth each spring. Some speculate that the mythology of the Green Man developed independently in the traditions of separate ancient cultures and evolved into the wide variety of examples found throughout history.

The term “Green Man” was coined by Lady Raglan, in her 1939 article “The Green Man in Church Architecture” in The Folklore Journal.

(from Wikipedia).

So a Green Man is an ancient and universal motive, with a somewhat foolish name that was coined in 1939.  Rather like Hillary, who when asked if it was he or Tenzing Sherpa who reached the summit of Everest first replied “I did, Tenzing scrambled up and then gave me a hand up” (my paraphrasing), so her Ladyship Raglan writes: “Mr Griffiths suggested ... moreover that it was a “Green Man”. So I named it”.

Depending on how muddy it gets this weekend, the participants at the festival could head down to the river and celebrate Minerva.

Posted by bigblue on 21/08/2009 at 05:13 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (0) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share

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