2003/3 Summaries


Votiefgeschenken: epidemiologie avant la lettre

Summery: Votive offerings: epidemiology before the term existed
Based on a study of literature concerned and on observations of the authorhimself, data have been gathered of 55,327 votive offerings representing parts of the body and human images. All these were or still are present in places off pilgrimage in America and Europe and can be dated between the 6th century BC and nowadays. Several lines of reasoning make it acceptable that the depiction of the heart is, in most cases, not the organ as such, but a multifunctional symbol. This is proved by the reverse relation found between the number of heart depictions and, also multifunctional, human images. The preference for one of both seems to depend on regional and religious traditions. So as to be able to compare the results of differentiating counts of these representations of parts of the human body, also called anatomical votive offerings, with medicinal epidemiologic data, hearts and human images are not dealt with in this study. It turned out that there is an inconspicuously consistent frequency spread of images of parts of the body  in places of pilgrimage in Mexico, Arizona, Grafrath, Ponte di Nona, and North Brabant, all sanctuaries of different periods stretching over 2000 years. There is a majority of legs and feet; eyes rank on the 4th place, while arms and hands, and heads rank second and third. Generally speaking in these  centres 29,826 anatomical votive  offerings are counted, heart  depictions excluded. Recent prevalent research
in The Netherlands, based on the complaints of patients, shows a striking similarity with this sequence of parts of  the body. The remaining 69 depictions in Limburg, and 46 in Altötting, as well as 663 old Greek votive offerings show a different distribution. Based on this research work, the conclusion seems to be justified to put that the frequency spread of anatomical votive offerings can be considered as an epidemiologic registration before the term existed.



Dieren in de religieuze volkscultuur van instrumentalisering naar sentimentalisering

Summary: Animals in religious popular culture. From instrumentation to sentimentality
The study of animals in popular religious culture is still in its infancy, especially because since the 19th century a  lot has changed in the methodical field. The only workable things left over from past research are a catalogue of saints invoked to safeguard animals in the farmyard against diseases and a catalogue about rituals practised in places of pilgrimage or in the farmyard. Meanwhile the research has been focused on hagiographies and on how animals appear in them. Medieval vitae with animals – in which animals play an exemplary role – were mainly meant for monastic circles, and from there some stories filtered through into popular culture in general. In monastic circles a miraculous fish catch (grafted on the miraculous fish catch in the Gospel) by one saint or another is a token of trust in God; in general popular culture the saint concerned is invoked for a good catch.
A next aspect is the changed devotion for traditional veterinary saints. The cult of St Anthony abbot and of St Hubert attracts crowds that otherwise never go to church. Pilgrims have become spectators. But also the animals have changed at these occasions. In the devotion large animals of the farm have been replaced by pets. Moreover  these pilgrimages have developed into folkloristic events that have nothing to do with the traditional pilgrimage.The  genuine places of pilgrimage people went to for anima welfare until the Second World War, have all been petered out.



Een ongewoon, niet alledaags “wetenschappelijk” spektabel. De Meyer en Soenen uit de bocht

Summary: An unusual, not everyday scholarly performance. De Meyer and Soenen go off the road
In the previous issue of Volkskunde a discussion dossier was opened about a report and a campaign of the King Baudouin Foundation: Alledaags is niet gewoon. Reflecties over volkscultuur en samenleving (Everyday is not ordinary. Reflections on popular culture and society). We react to the contribution by Gust De Meyer and Ruth Soenen (Volkskunde, 104 (2003), p. 195-218) to this debate. We point at a series of contradictions and mistakes  in their commentary. We question the destructive criticism on the alleged Marxist goals of the campaign, on the so-called “triangular thinking” in the report or on the supposed lack of vision of the authors, of the King Baudouin Foundation or of the participants in projects sponsored by the campaign. Ad authors of texts in the report we react to the statement, repeated in their English summary (p.264): “It is noteworthy that in the whole text of ‘Plain  things are uncommon’ not a word is said about… the mass media (…) everyday use of the media, and also of semi-public means of expressions, offer opportunities for emancipation. All this is simply ignored by the authors of the ‘Plain things are uncommon’ report”. In our contribution we show that this is not correct. Furthermore we defend the fact that careful (theoretical an methodological) reflection and a critical attitude as a scholar are very important when dealing with sources, stories and discourses, in particular in the study of popular culture.



Het Werchters Driekoningenspel in het licht van de evolutie van de Volkskunde
Summary: The Werchter twelfth night play in the light of the evolution of folklore
Since Jan Bols in the course of the 18th century recorded the Werchter Twelfth Night play (Werchter is a village in the neighbourhood of Louvain), several generations of folklorists have been interested in it. They always dealt with the play in accordance with the time and the society they lived in. While Jan Bols was completely under the influence of the arising romantic ideas of the time, folklorists after him gradually kept a distance. Most of them, however, still considered the Werchter play as an intact relic of a far and glorious past. Even attempts in the late seventies of the 20th century to approach the play in an objective and scientific way, were not free of this “original  sin of folklore”. Yet in this article, based on a small inquiry, the spheres of interest of modern folklorists in connection with the Twelfth Night play, such as a context, production, meaning and functions are dealt with. From this it is obvious that not only several generations of folklorists had a context-linked interpretation of their own of the Twelfth Night play, but also at the same time appropriated the play in a way of their own and ascribed a subjective meaning to it.
Folklorists though, may still focus their attention on the origin of the Twelfth Night play, provided they work in a critical and careful way. Furthermore here too prevails that the origin is more important than the age of the play itself.