"Something deep and unbidden"Read Now
I went to my artist friend's 60th birthday party yesterday ... and came away with a present of my own.
This little (?) fellow, christened Homunculus by Marguerite Heywood, his creator, was introduced as supporting evidence for Marguerite's comment a few weeks ago on the subject of the naked figures in the Bayeux Tapestry.
Marguerite implied that she produced Homunculus almost subconsciously, because, I guess, things deep and unbidden have to find an expression. How intriguing ...
Is that, then, what lay at the root (terrible pun) of the genitally enhanced men in the borders of the Bayeux Tapestry? Did the borders allow the (? female) embroiderers the place and opportunity to express hidden desires? Were the borders sexually subversive spaces?
If you're not into this kind of theorizing on a Sunday afternoon, that's fair enough. And maybe male genitalia just ain't your cup of tea (?!?!). But please understand that as the Anglo-Saxon Monk I had to find some way of intellectualizing my decision to put Homunculus and his equipment out there for all to see. I have my reputation to consider!
Go on ... have your say. Do you like my Homunculus?
27/10/2014 03:18:05 am
Ah Chris, this is a strange thing that has crept out of my sewing box. I am quite relieved that you took it from me as its fate would have been to act as a pincushion for specific pins. I am still baffled about how it seemed to emerge unbidden from scraps of material left over from a textile art work.
Chris (the Anglo-Saxo Monk)
27/10/2014 03:44:28 am
Ah, Marguerite, more insights! Thank you so much. Rest assured that Homunculus will not meet with a pin-full fate. He is now residing in a window with my man-in-a-barrel (you lift the barrel and his member pops up), a cross-stitch of two men holding hands (a birthday card from Aukse), and a ceramic Waldorf and Statler (from the Muppets).
27/10/2014 09:58:45 am
How intriguing! And what fun! Without much factual knowledge of the tapestry or etiquette on Medieval sewing it would be hard to comment. However, one guess would be that the borders were perhaps not given specific scenes unlike the main historical story. With this in mind, sewing in the borders may have had some freedom of expression. Along with this freedom, named individuals were perhaps not instructed to sew specific scenes, which could mean no one would know who had sewn the lewd and rude bits! It's conjecture but I'd be curious to hear from an historian. Thanks for the fun!
Chris (the Anglo-Saxon Monk)
27/10/2014 11:14:01 am
Thanks so much for your fabulous comment, Elaine. I love the idea of lewd and rude bits being sewn in surreptitiously. Bayeux Tapestry scholars have argued over and over about the meaning of the borders in general, and also specifically about the naughty bits. Some believe there is no association between the borders and the main narrative, and that the borders are therefore just decorative, which would allow for your own idea to come into play. I'm actually writing a chapter for a new book of collected essays on the Tapestry, due out next year (I hope). My essay is all about the meaning of nakedness in the borders, male genitalia in particular. I actually make the case for reading the naked figures as a comment on the main scenes to which they're connected. I do think the embroiders are having a laugh at the machismo of war, and that's what the exaggerated genitalia are about. But any more and I'll spoil it! Even if there is a direct purpose behind the borders, as I'm arguing, I still think your idea is valid. Anonymity of the embroiders would allow things to be 'said' in a rude, funny and subversive way. Great comment. Thanks again.
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