Thursday, 21 May 2009

Country pursuits ....

Clearing out my mobile phone memory I found a whole lot of photos I took last year at the Saul Canal Festival. Among them one of England's quainter pursuits - Morris Dancing. This team was all women, unusual as the Morris is traditionally a male pursuit, as much, so I'm told, about the beer taken between dances , as the dance itself.

The Morris Dance was probably originally a fertility rite and has a number of forms including a "Rapper" and a "Sword" formation, the swords actually being a form of thatcher's knife. There is a "Black" Morris as well, with the dancers dressed in a sort of black motley sometimes with blackened faces and a "hunting" Morris with a Huntsman on a "Hobby Horse" as leader. In it's modern form it comes from the revival during the late 18th Century of "Country" pursuits encouraged in the 18th and 19th Century as suitably "rustic" activities for the labouring classes and further refined to its present form in the 20th Century where it has become an activity enjoyed by a lot of professional people who get a kick out of letting their hair down in this way.

Oh, and Pratchett makes much of the dancing of the "other" Morris, about which no one will speak or reveal how it is done - and it is never danced for an audience of mortals ....

It's all good fun, it's energetic and enjoyable to watch. Very "rustic" indeed.


  1. I've never heard of the Morris before but now I'm fascinated! Really, I do so need to get out of this country and see more of the world. So much to see and learn!

  2. I'll have a look around and see what else I can find on Morris dancing for you. Travel certainly does broaden our perspectives.