Corn Dollies by Mary Irvine
‘Corn dollies, made from the last sheaf of corn, go back thousands of years.‘
Dressed in Edwardian attire, complete with straw boater I was attending a Mayday celebration. I watched a man working straw into intricate designs. He smiled, ‘I know just what your hat needs.’
Taking a long piece of straw, heads intact, he wove a ‘love knot’ which he placed in my hat-band. My first encounter with corn dollies. I learned only a woman wears a love knot with ears of corn intact- a symbol of new life. A male wears one made just of the stalk.
I was hooked. Problem was getting the right straw to make them. Modern machinery cuts corn too short. I had to find a farm still harvesting with Shires. I did. Geoffrey Morton, in North Yorkshire had farmed all his life using only animal and human power.
Every harvest time the same mantra.
‘It’s Mary Irvine. Would you sell me a sheaf of corn if I came up?’
‘I make corn dollies.’
Then he’d hang up. A two hour round trip followed, hoping he wouldn’t change his mind.
Corn dollies, made from the last sheaf of corn, go back thousands of years. A thank you to the Earth Mother for a good harvest, a hope for harvests to come.Various designs are associated with particular areas. My own specialties the Yorkshire Spiral, Welsh Fan, Favours.
Now many corn dollies are made commercially. I prefer traditional designs that tell a story, keeping our heritage alive.
Mary Irvine – Writer and Philhellene
(Image:By Renata [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons)
This section: Poems and Stories for Autumn, stories and poems
- Two poems by Finola Scott: ‘Garlic’ and ‘Rhubarb’
- Flowers – poems by Leela Soma
- I Deserve This – a poem for Christmas by Calum Maclean
- Bluid Muin – Lunar Eclipse by Finola Scott
- Some Wintertime Poems by Finola Scott
- Goldie by Pat Byrne
- Reading Palms by Stephen Watt
- Poetry: Lahore, I am coming by Rizwan Akhtar
- Autumn Makes Me Sad by Muriel Baker
- Three Haibun by Robin Lloyd-Jones
- The Indian Shawl a poem by Muriel Baker
- Plum Stone Throat a poem by Jen Gray
- Autumn Visit to USA by Leela Soma
- Lochwinnoch – a poem by Lindsey Stewart
- Living in Shoes – poem by Gail Winters
- The Big Chair – Autumn Voices – Robin Lloyd-Jones
- Corn Dollies by Mary Irvine
- Chinese Autumn by Mary Irvine
- The Last Leaf – a poem for Autumn by Catriona Malan
- Leela Soma: ‘Vermillion’ a poem for Autumn