This weekend was definitely what you would call wet! We had planned on taking Olga the Bra out to see the snow, which fell around the 28th of October and stayed…well until now, when we finally got our snow tires on the car Friday afternoon, then it began to rain (of course). That didn’t stop me from taking my walk for exercise today! But we didn’t really feel like hanging out in the rain.
So what is a blogging couple to do? We decided to go to the Maritime Museum (in case you didn’t read the title of this post or look at the pictures – I know I had you in suspense there for a second)!
I have always been fascinated by the beautiful and ornate figureheads on the lovely old sailing ships. So I was happy to see that they had quite a few on display at the museum. I have always seen them as romantic figures, or some of them like the Vikings were quite frightening. However all of them were intricate detailed craftsmanship.
Ship figureheads have a long history dating back to pre-Christian times, when Chinese, Egyptian, Greek and Romans navigated the Pacific and Indian oceans and Mediterranean Sea.
The figureheads of these ancient people were linked to the superstition that these sculptered images were guardians of the vessels they adorned and were also supposed to frighten enemies, as well as give a religious significance to the exploits in which they were engaged.
The same motive was later endorsed by the Vikings during the early Christian era. The prows of vessels rode high out of the water and were frequently tipped with intimidating dragons, sea serpents of fierce animal heads. Since the Vikings are credited with having been the first navigators to explore North American waters, it is likely that the figureheads on their vessels were the first ones to appear in the New World.
The sailors of these early northern European vessels firmly believed that their wooden icons were endowed with magical powers. Seafarers of later eras turned their backs on this type of idol worship, but remained fiercely superstitious concerning the protection of the figureheads on their vessels, believing that any damage to these icons meant certain disaster.
Most of the ones at the Maritime museum are from the 17th, 18th and 19th century and depict maidens who watched over their ships.
I think they are fascinating to look at and admire the craftsmanship of the carpenters who made these. I wonder what the sailing ships looked like which bore them. One thing is clear at this point and time, these certainly were lucky enough to outlast the ships they watched over.