Tag Archives: Mari Ystrad

A Very Quick Dead Horse

16 Jan

mari siglo

Here’s the last drawing I did of the Ystradgynlais Mari Lwyd when it appeared at Gellionen Unitarian chapel a couple of weeks ago. I did it in a few seconds so I had to just get down the fundamental details of what I was looking at. I used mostly white conté crayon, a stub on its side, with a couple of very quick details in sanguine and black. Speedy drawings are good for getting down proportions and spacing, I find.

mari siglo 2

 

Mari Lwyd is the ancient Welsh tradition linking back to the ancient Celtic / Gaulish goddess Epona and the Welsh mythological horse goddess and Queen of the Underworld Rhiannon from the Mabinogion. The New Year is welcomed by parading a life size puppet constructed around the skull of a horse along with a group of characters who each have a role to play in the celebrations.  There are links to a similar traditions in the UK, the Laare Vane (White Mare) on the Isle of Man and the Hobby Horse in parts of England. The tradition had almost died out by the mid 20th century after decades of opposition from Christian ministers across Wales, but it is now undergoing an enthusiastic revival.

Mari Lwyd’s Friends

14 Jan

maris friends 1

 

Mari Lwyd, the ancient Welsh tradition linking back to the ancient Celtic goddess Epona and the mythological Rhiannon, welcomes the new year by parading a life size puppet constructed around the skull of a horse along with a group of characters who each have a role to play in the celebrations. These characters vary from group to group and the Ystrad Fari Lwyd (from Ystradgynlais) includes a character in white representing the New Year and one in black representing the old year. They carry decorated sticks with bells on.

 

maris friends 2

Mari Lwyd’s friends at Gellionen Chapel

 

 

 

The Old Chapel

10 Jan

interior gellionen 1

Husb and I went to the old Gellionen Chapel last Sunday for a service that included Mari Ystrad, the Mari Lwyd from Ystradgynlais. The chapel, dating from the 1600s, is gorgeous and decorated with fresh boughs of holly. The service started with lighting a large candle and was not overtly religious, as the Unitarians welcome people of all faiths and none.

interior gellionen 2

Inside Gellionen Chapel with Mari Lwyd and her companions

 

The Mari Lwyd is an old Welsh tradition that  echoes back to ancient Celtic worship of the horse goddess Epona. There are links to a similar traditions in the UK, the Laare Vane (White Mare) on the Isle of Man and the Hobby Horse in parts of England.

A Strange Place

9 Jan

exterior gellionen

Husb and I went to chapel last Sunday. Yes, that’s right, not something we would ever normally do. we went to see the Ystradgynlais Mari Lwyd at the Gellionen Unitarian chapel up on Gellionen Mountain. It was freezing cold but very sunny so I strolled out into the landscape and had a scribble into my A4 brown paper sketchbook with conté crayons in white, sanguine and black. There was a fantastic view that stretched down the mountains all the way to a glimpse of Swansea Bay with Mumbles in the background.

 

exterior gellionen 2

 

The chapel is very old, dating from 1692 and is close to the sight of a much older Celtic church, Llan Eithrim. It’s set in a hollow surrounded by trees in a very atmospheric setting.

 

Echo From The Past

10 Jan

mari-1

This is the last drawing I did of The Mari Lwyd, Y Fari Lwyd, at Gellionen Chapel last Sunday. Sitting in the pew during the visit from Mari Ystrad (the Mari Lwyd from Ystradgynlais) gave me the time and space to do more detailed drawings than I was able to do a couple of weeks ago when I followed Mari Trecopwr (Coppertown Mari) around pubs in North Gower, which was raucous and hectic but loads of fun.

The tradition of Mari Lwyd was very common until the 1960’s when it had almost died out but it’s now having a revival and it’s terrific to see and draw this echo from the past.

I drew with white, black and sanguine conté crayons into my A4 brown paper sketchbook. I’m enjoying this sketchbook, it gives me a good mid tone to work into. I really like this drawing, I might eventually develop it into a screenprint.

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

A Thin Veil

9 Jan

mari-2

Drawing the Mari Ystrad at Gellionen Chapel yesterday was a much more peaceful experience than drawing the Mari Trecopwr around the pubs of North Gower a couple of weeks ago and I had the chance to take my time, observe and record at leisure. I finally drew the full figure – the Mari’s skull atop a two legged creature in a decorated white shroud, baggy white trousers and white socks. The huge horse’s skull dwarfs the homo sapien below.

The white – or grey – colouring of the Mari Lwyd dates to pre-Christian times and is the colour of animals that could cross the divide between this world and the underworld. White is also associated with Rhiannon, a Welsh horse goddess and queen of the underworld. At this darkest time of the year, tradition has it that the veil between this and other worlds is at its thinnest and some beings could pass through.

Husb noticed that the spiral pattern on part of the shroud is the same as carvings on ancient stone monuments and temples across Malta. Coincidence? hhhmmmmm

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

Singing In The Chapel!!!!

8 Jan

chapel

Anyone who knows Husb and me knows that we’re a pair of unrepentant godless heathen. And would be very surprised that we went to chapel today! A gorgeous Unitarian chapel up on Gellionen Mountain, completely deserted and shrouded in this morning’s thick fog. The lovely wood-lined interior was decorated with holly and ivy and there was a chalice and large candle lit in front of the simple pulpit. I did a very quick sketch before the service started with the rousing Welsh hymn, Calon Lân, one that Husb and I hadn’t sung since childhood. Surprisingly I really enjoyed singing it. But that’s not the reason we were there. The chapel had organised a visit from Mari Ystrad, the Ystradgynlais Mari Lwyd and I’m getting a bit obsessed with the tradition of The Mari and jumped at the chance of drawing another one, after following Mari Trecopwr, the Coppertown Mari around North Gower last week.

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The Mari Ystrad was incorporated into the simple and moving service with great hilarity and afterwards we munched on delicious home-made Welsh cakes. Mari Ystrad seems less sinister and more skittish than the Mari Trecopwr and now I’m just going to have to go and draw some more to see how they differ……

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

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