The first figurehead was an animal lashed to a pole on the front of a raft or a fishing boat. In all this, the bottom line, the signature, was tender for the gods: what could be bartered for a full day’s catch, the love of a woman, the breath of a child returned from the brink. Who knows when the first surrogate was carved out of wood, stained with dye from flowers and herbs, with soot and smoke? The chin juts out over water, and across its surface the long neck hovers like a blue-green shadow. It’s difficult to keep the body’s balance while holding the arms out in supplication, and so they’re lashed together at the elbows or wrists.


In response to Via Negativa: Anonymous.

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