Friday, January 31, 2014

Postcrossing gems: Margaret Tarrant and Cossack Mamay of the Ukraine

I received a couple of neat, folklore-themed postcards from Europe this week via Postcrossing.

Shown above is the front of the card I got from John in the Netherlands. It's an illustration titled Water Sports by English artist Margaret Tarrant (1888-1959). The work of Tarrant (pictured at right) has been featured on Papergreat before; she illustrated this cover of the The Three Bears.

According to her Wikipedia biography:
"In the 1920s, Tarrant helped to popularize fairies in a long-running series of titles on the theme such as The Forest Fairies, The Pond Fairies, and The Twilight Fairies. She was long associated with the Medici Society and many of her postcards, calendars, and children's books were published by the organization."
Clearly, this postcard illustration, with its fairies racing ducks on a pond, fits in with her primary theme.

On the postcard, John writes:
"Hello Chris. I never before heard of Ruth Manning-Sanders, nor Margaret Tarrant. But somehow, they must at least have met. (?) Anyway, I live in the coastal town/port of Vlissingen, which gave its name to New York's Flushing. My town is some 1,000 years old, but in the 16th century only it became more important. Our most famous citizen: 'Michiel de Ruyter.' If you want, just Google him."

The second postcard came to me from Natalia in the Ukraine.

Natalia writes:
"Postcard shows Cossack Mamay [who] is a Ukrainian folkloric hero. Cossack Mamay is encountered in legends, folk stories and proverbs. Cossack Mamay is one of the most common characters in Ukrainian folk painting, from the late 17th century to the present time!"
Here are some more Cossack Mamay tidbits from Wikipedia:
  • The Ukrainian spelling of his name is Козак Мамай.
  • He is a primary character within the Vertep, the portable puppet theater of the Ukraine.
  • He is considered to be the national personification of the Ukraine (much as Uncle Sam is considered such in the United States).
  • Cossack Mamay is usually shown with a kobza (a lute-like musical instrument), a horse, and his weapons hanging from the branches of an oak tree. (All of those can be seen in this postcard, which is an illustration by Maryna Mykhailoshyna.)

Looking back, another Postcrossing postcard I received last year from the Ukraine — A meal of varenyky and uzvar — also features the character of Cossack Mamay, although he is not specifically named as such. The mustache and hairstyle are certainly similar.

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