Monday, 9 December 2013

American Indians? ...in Staffordshire


This wood carving on a choir-stall at Checkley Church is most mysterious.  It is usually described as two portraits of native American Indians... but, as these bench-ends have been dated to the mid-sixteenth century, this seems improbable.

Yes, the 1500s were the Age of Exploration, so it's possible the carver could have been on a trading ship to America - or seen a drawing of an American native - but why would he then have carved it in a quiet country church, with barely another reference to tell us what is meant? 
Yes, the curling tentacles above the portraits might possibly be American maize, but, if so, it's a very stylised version of maize.

No-one really knows.  It might even be a Central or South American Indian ... or not an Indian at all.

1 comment:

  1. Very strange, I'll have to look more closely next time I visit a church and see what is there

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