The Curious Life and Times of Scarecrows

It’s probably been a few months since you thought about scarecrows, but those who use them for their stated purpose build them in the spring. You have to shoo away birds as soon as you plant seeds in the ground. An article at Modern Farmer tells us about the original business of scaring birds (and other animals) away from crops with effigies, from ancient times to today. Scarecrows also carried symbolic and even supernatural messages.

Through the ages their makers worldwide have fashioned the often maudlin-looking figure to reflect images of the occult, of customs, culture, mythology, superstitions or religion. A scarecrow hung with arms outstretched on a wooden cross echoes the crucifixion as portrayed in this etching by Jim Yarbrough. To a farmer they may simply be a symbol of the death and resurrection of the crops.

Some (such as the authors of website Occult View) suggest that the scarecrow, in addition to mirroring Christ on the cross may have originally been a severe warning, a “no trespassing” symbol, likening it to the deeds of Vlad the Impaler (so named for his reported propensity for impaling and displaying enemies) or sacrifice, an offering in turn for fertile fields. In more recent times, cartoonists have skewered politicians by depicting them as scarecrows. A British wheat farmer, hoping to scare off pigeons ravaging his crop, built a scarecrow of Lady Gaga as she appeared on the 2010 Brit Awards.

These days, you are more likely to see scarecrows as just Halloween decorations. A scarecrow can be pretty raggedy and scary by the time harvest is completed, just in time for All Hallows Eve. The overview of scarecrows concludes with an interview with contemporary scarecrow artist Pumpkin Rot. -via Digg

(Image credit: PumpkinRot)

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