Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Creole Mourning Folk Art by Andrew LaMar Hopkins "Till We Meet Again"

"Till We Meet Again" 12 x 12. Available

My latest painting finished on October 1st, is titled "Till We Meet Again" 12 x 12. Available thought my square account in. October gives us a opportunity to talk about traditions in death and Mourning in Creole New Orleans. This morning scene takes place in the year 1817. A white Creole Gentleman is mourning the lost of his recently departed complain, a Free Woman of Color. Who is depicted departed away in a cloud to the right of the Neoclassical Tomb. They are both dressed in the latest fashion from Paris for the year 1817. The tomb depicted in the painting is a fancy step tomb. One of the earliest types of tombs built in Creole New Orleans. Most of these early types of step tombs were built around a coffin that was placed on the ground and the tomb constructed above it. Then, as today, more affluent families prefer tombs as a sign of status and culture. In French, the word for tomb is "caveau"(cellar), or "caverne"(cave); "una tombe" is also a French term which may be applied.  The Symbols on the tomb: Draped Urn. The design represents a funeral urn and is thought to symbolize immortality. 

Cremation was an early form of preparing the dead for burial. In some periods, especially classical times, it was more common than burial. The shape of the container in which the ashes were placed may have taken the form of a simple box or a marble vase, but no matter what it looked like it was called an "urn," derived from the Latin uro, meaning "to burn." As burial became a more common practice, the urn continued to be closely associated with death. The urn is commonly believed to testify to the death of the body and the dust into which the dead body will change, while the spirit of the departed eternally rests with God.

The cloth draping the urn symbolically guarded the ashes. The shroud-draped urn is believed by some to mean that the soul has departed the shrouded body for its trip to heaven. Others say that the drape signifies the last partition between life and death. Winged Hourglass: Hourglasses represent the passing of time and the end of a person’s time on earth. A winged hourglass on a gravestone is a symbol of the fleetingness of life. Upside-down Flaming Torch:
Flames represent eternal light or life. An upside-down torch symbolizes light that cannot be extinguished. Cross: A Christian symbol of faith and the hope of ‘resurrection’ to ‘eternal life’ in ‘heaven’. 

History of the Symbolism of the Willow Tree
The willow tree has a long history of symbolism rooted in spirituality and cultural traditions. There are references to the willow tree in Celtic and Christian tradition, among others. One of the most valuable traits of the willow tree is its flexibility. The willow tree is one of the few trees that is capable of bending in outrageous poses without snapping. Life on Earth can't exist without water, which is why the willow, a tree found in or near watery bodies, figures so prominently in creation legends, biblical references, Shakespearean tragedy and modern associations. The meaning of a willow tree shifts from author to author, but it's always an important symbol or representation in literature and mythology.

Biblical references to willow trees include Psalm 137, in which Jews held in captivity to Babylon weep remembering their homeland: "There on the willow trees, we hung up our harps." Instead of a source of power, the willow here symbolizes loss, along with the hope of future retrieval. But the willow maintains its life force in Ezekiel 17:5 where the prophet plants a fruitful seed and "sets it like a willow tree," suggesting permanence and revival. It's also celebratory, as Leviticus 23:40 commands believers to take "willows of the brook" as a festival offering.

 The most obvious meaning of a weeping willow would seem to be the “weeping” part…for mourning or grieving for a loved one.  The saying “she is in her willows” implies the mourning of a female for a lost mate.  And while the Victorians took the art of mourning to new heights, the weeping willow was not just a symbol for sadness. 

     A native of Asia, the weeping willow is a fast growing tree that can reach fifty feet high and fifty feet wide.  It tolerates most any soil and roots easily from cuttings.  Because of this, they are often the first trees to appear in a disturbed site, giving them a reputation as “healers and renewers.” In many cultures, the willow is a sign of immortality, and is associated with the moon, water and femininity.  The weeping willow also has connections to Greece as Orpheus, their most celebrated poet, carried willow branches with him on his journey through the Underworld. The Greek sorceress Circe planted a riverside cemetery with willow trees, dedicated to Hecate and her moon magic.  It was common to place willow branches in the coffins of the dead, and then plant young saplings on their graves, with the belief that the spirit of the dead would rise up through the tree.

Plaçage was a recognized extralegal system in French and Spanish slave colonies of North America (including the Caribbean) by which ethnic European men entered into civil unions with non-Europeans of African, Native American and mixed-race descent. The term comes from the French placer meaning "to place with". The women were not legally recognized as wives but were known as placées; their relationships were recognized among the free people of color as mariages de la main gauche or left-handed marriages. They became institutionalized with contracts or negotiations that settled property on the woman and her children, and in some cases gave them freedom if they were enslaved. The system flourished throughout the French and Spanish colonial periods, reaching its zenith during the latter, between 1769 and 1803.

It was widely practiced in New Orleans, where planter society had created enough wealth to support the system. It also took place in the Latin-influenced cities of Natchez and Biloxi, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; St. Augustine and Pensacola, Florida; as well as Saint-Domingue (now the Republic of Haiti). Plaçage became associated with New Orleans as part of its cosmopolitan society.

"Till We Meet Again" 12 x 12. Available


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