Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Acorns revisited

I have still not figured out the mystical significance (if any) of acorns. But they still keep turning up somehow connected with rosaries.

Here's a recent item that turned up on Ebay -- a nice wooden rosary with acorn-shaped marker beads. It's Italian-made, but it's a souvenir from Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in New York state.


The seller speculates that perhaps the beads are made of oak wood, which would explain why the Our Father beads (gauds) might be in the form of acorns. This is certainly possible, although (with the exception of olive wood beads from Palestine) most wooden rosary beads in modern times don't seem to be made from anything special -- often just some nameless inexpensive wood, sometimes ebony or rosewood.

The acorns could also be a reference to the original vision of Fatima, where -- if I'm remembering correctly -- children saw the Virgin Mary in the top of a small oak tree.

However none of this explains the presence of acorn-shaped beads in rosaries made before 1917, the date of the visions at Fatima. In particular, it doesn't explain Balthasar's acorns, a portrait from the 1500s showing a rosary with just such beads.

I'm still looking for clues.

In the meantime, it would also be nice to find some modern wooden acorn-shaped beads to make a reproduction of Balthasar's beads, but I don't seem to find those either. They don't look in the painting as though they are particularly finely carved, and the one modern set of beads I've seen that resembled them were also rather crudely carved (I assume they are "folk art"). Unfortunately I'm no woodcarver or I'd try making some.

Perhaps my erratic "finder's luck" will kick in. I began looking for flat disk-shaped beads several years ago in order to make reproductions of a couple of intriguing historical rosaries that use disk-shaped counters rather than round beads. I looked in vain for about three years: then suddenly "doughnut" shaped flat round beads became popular, and are now quite common in bead stores and catalogs -- semiprecious stone, wood, bone, glass and just about any other material. Maybe two or three years from now, acorns will suddenly become popular -- probably just as I've learned how to carve wood. :)


Blogger Suzi said...

I don't know why acorns are on rosaries. But your point on mystical significance had me chasing the idea around on the internet. And I found some interesting things.

Since ancient times some have believed that the first man was created from the branches and flesh of the Oak tree (and also of the Ash).

The Romans also believed this idea and tell of how mankind was created from an opening in the feminine Oak and fed by her Acorns. 'Ovid' said that 'Acorns dropping from the tree of Jove' provided the first food.

An ancient Pagan belief that is thought to be connected with the Druids tells that to carry an Acorn at all times will ensure that you are prevented from growing old.

These thoughts on mystical acorns were found on http://www.mystical-www.co.uk/trees/treeso.htm#OAK.

The ancient Hebrews considered the oak sacred because it was under an oak that Abraham gave hospitality to God and two of his angels, who were disguised as travellers. This story is told in Genesis 18; and is one of 60 references to oak in the Bible.

This is from http://www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/DOCREP/005/Y4351E/y4351e06.htm

I also read that supposedly 7 oaks sprang up where Cain killed Abel. And that acorns were a symbol of fertility.

I don't know if that has anything to do with why acorns would be on a rosary, but... That's what I learned.

7:00 PM  

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