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A skirt hangs down from the edge of the frame to around knee-height. There is a small, wooden, horse’s head with snapping jaws, attached to a long, straight neck, with a long mane, which sticks out from the front of the frame. A New Year custom from the Isle of Man, involving a white-painted wooden horse’s head with red-painted snapping jaws, with a white sheet attached. Draped in the sheet, a man would carry the head, racing unexpectedly into the room and chase any girls present out of the house, followed by the rest of the company. When the Laare Vane caught a girl she would take his place under the sheet to carry the horse back into the house, sitting away from the others while a kind of sword-dance was performed with sticks by six male dancers to the tune « Mylecharane’s March » played on the fiddle.


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  • The National Gallery of Art serves the nation by welcoming all people to explore and experience art, creativity, and our shared humanity.
  • The Poulain has a realistically carved wooden head, with a snapping jaws and an extending neck that can reach up to first-floor windows; money or other offerings put into its mouth tumble down inside its neck.
  • The « dead » fiddler was then blindfolded and led to the Laare Vane, and knelt with his head in her lap.
  • In some versions it is brought back to life by a quack doctor, like a character in the Mummers play.
  • Saint George’s attempts to kill the dragon with his lance all fail, so he then dispatches it with a pistol!

The National Gallery of Art serves the nation by welcoming all people to explore and experience art, creativity, and our shared humanity. Le Cheval-Bayard de Clermont-l’Hérault was revived in 1988, after more than a century and a half. The town’s original cheval-bayard was burned in 1815; known as the Bayard , meaning a bay horse, its origins have been traced back to the 9th century. There have been smaller, junior Poulains in Pézenas, made by or for children; the Pézenas fadas also have a full-sized version of their own. There have also been similar creatures or imitations elsewhere, some of which still continue. There is a very lively Poulain at Saint-Thibéry and others are known at Adissan, Alignan-du-Vent, Florensac, Montblanc and Vias (where it is linked to a local legend of a medieval famine and is known as lo Pouli de la Fabo – the colt of the bean).

Hobby Horse Hobby Horse Hobby Horsing Horse

As a symbol of power, it also appeared at times when the town’s prévôt distributed bread to the poor , as well as visits by royalty or other https://badwolfpublichouse.com/ dignitaries. The Poulain was burned in 1789, during the French Revolution, because of its royal associations, but was revived in 1803. Since then it has appeared at Mardi Gras and other festive occasions. Its framework, once a weighty construction of chestnut, has been made of aluminium since 1989.

The Hobby Horse

The horse has a few coloured ribbons attached to its mane, bridle and tail. Its reins are held by a man dressed in a red jacket, and it is closely followed by a boy (who occasionally prods it with a wooden hay-fork) and a blacksmith in an apron . Other stock characters in the parade include four masked, smartly dressed « old men » with walking sticks. From time to time the horse falls to the ground and is then « shod » . The man who leads it sometimes breathes into its mouth or nostrils. The Salisbury Giant, a 12 ft-tall (3.5m) figure sometimes said to represent Saint Christopher, is a processional figure unique in Britain.

Hobby Horse

Accompanied by a brass band, men and boys wearing colourful costumes representing traditional characters spend a whole day going from door to door, visiting every household in their community . Details differ slightly from place to place, but there are usually two or three hobby-horses . Other characters include the Straw Men, dressed in costumes made of rice-straw, with blacked faces, and tall, pointed straw hats; they embrace women and roll with them on the ground, which is said to confer fertility. Housewives gather straw from the Straw Men’s skirts as a good luck charm, taking it home to feed their geese and chickens.

The current figure’s wooden frame was rebuilt c.1850 although it is probable that he existed in the 15th century. Hob-Nob’s rider’s face and body were disguised with a substantial veil. The first clear mention of the hobby horse is in 1572 (along with a « mayde Marrians Coate ») in the records of the Tailors’ Guild (who, in 1873, finally sold both hobby-horse and Giant to the Museum). The processions, which also involved morris dancers until around 1911, continued sporadically on various occasions into the mid 20th century. The most famous traditional British hobby horses are probably those of the May Day ‘Obby ‘Oss festival in Padstow, Cornwall. They are made from a circular framework, tightly covered with shiny black material, carried on the shoulders of a dancer whose face is hidden by a grotesque mask attached to a tall, pointed hat.

They have also been recorded at Agde, Caux, Montagnac, Castelnau, Valros and Nizas, all in the Languedoc. An outlier in the Ariège, at St Pierre de Soulan, was instigated by a former inhabitant of Pézenas. Hoblers or Hovellers were men who kept a light nag that they may give instant information of threatened invasion. (Old French, hober, to move up and down; our hobby, q.v.) In mediæval times their duties were to reconnoitre, to carry intelligence, to harass stragglers, to act as spies, to intercept convoys, and to pursue fugitives. The Hobby Horse was succeeded by magazines like The Yellow Book and The Savoy.

Location Settings

While probably true to life, the size and shape of the boy’s head may reflect the nineteenth-century interest in phrenology, a pseudoscientific belief that the shape of the skull could indicate intelligence and character. Here, Webster’s broad forehead sculpted in light may have been intended to suggest the boy’s astute and moral nature. The Santa Tecla Festival takes place at Tarragona from 15–24 September and includes the saint’s day, 23 September.