Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Enchanted Hair Ornaments

Acrylic on canvas, 18 x 13 cm (each panel)

Once there were 8 sisters who lived in a far off kingdom. They were not only fair of face, but were equally famous throughout the land for their long, lustrous tresses, which fell well below their knees.

The sisters consistently rejected all proposals of marriage - they much preferred their own company.

As the months went by their chambers were filled to overflowing with the unwanted gifts of rejected suitors.

Driven to distraction with rage and frustration, their father forbade them to leave the confines of their sumptuous, yet tasteful palace until they were all betrothed.

An ambitious, rather arrogant young jeweller (who was not so bad looking himself) travelled from a distant kingdom with the intention of courting and winning the heart of one of the sisters and thus continuing his climb up the social ladder. (As they were equally beautiful and well connected, he wasn’t particularly fussy about which one.)

This time the sisters could not resist his offerings. Each one was presented with a hair ornament modelled in the form of an exquisite, jewel-like insect, bug, or spider that he had designed and made especially for her. The sisters were not vain, but they were justifiably proud of their hair and so all of them accepted their gifts with genuine surprise and delight. Unfortunately the jeweller’s personality did not match the charm of his presents and his suit was rejected just as politely, but firmly, as those of every other unfortunate soul who had come and gone before him.

What they didn’t know, but were soon to discover, was that the jeweller was a part-time sorcerer who dabbled in the Black Arts. In a flash of blind fury he placed a curse on each of his gifts. Each night the sisters were transformed into the tiny arthropods that had once graced their hair ornaments. Only with the sunrise did they revert to their former selves.

But one woman’s curse is another one’s blessing. In their new guises the sisters could easily slip through the gaps beneath their barred chamber doors.

Every evening they stole from their bedchambers into the nearby forest. What happened next (and, according to many accounts, still happens to this day) is one of the many, many secrets that the forest keeps.

The sisters were not fools. They soon realised that for the curse to be lifted they simply had to remove their beloved hair ornaments. But not one of them ever even considered it.