19 June 2011

Rat Race and Maiden’s Dance

Almost two weeks ago I mentioned this month’s theme for The Sketchbook Challenge: Pathways. I’ve been working long hours this week, so I haven’t had much time or energy for any other pathways than those that lead to and from the office, with some slight detours to the gym and the supermarket. But the theme has been on my mind nevertheless.

I found this cartoon in the paper recently and found it hilarious (gallows humour works at the moment):

  The most difficult part is to get them to want to live on 
after they’ve finally found their way to the middle of the labyrinth.

The middle of the labyrinth, by the way, is eerily similar to my room at the office. :-P

After I saw the cartoon, the idea of a labyrinth was evoked in my mind. The labyrinth is an ancient symbol that can be found all over the world, and it can be argued to represent a long and difficult journey. A good theme for Pathways, that is.

And then I remembered something.

I’ve done a bit of travelling in the UK, during which I’ve been looking at standing stones, stone circles, geoglyphs and burial mounds everywhere from Cornwall in the south to Orkney in the north. And I’ve envied the abundance of exciting archaeological stuff that can be found there. Last summer I travelled in Sweden, where I was thrilled to find rune stones and other rock carvings. And I asked myself: what do we have in Finland? And to my shame I discovered that didn’t know.

But while I was contemplating labyrinths, I suddenly remembered the Troy towns, which we in Finland call ‘jungfrudans’ (maiden’s dance) in Swedish and ‘jatulintarha’ (giant’s garden) in Finnish. These stone labyrinths can be found along the coast. I’ve never actually seen any of them in original, only heard of them. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t even heard of them before I worked as a guide at an open-air museum in Vaasa about 10 years ago. There was a replica of a maiden’s dance there. Isn’t it weird how you travel other countries looking for exciting things and miss the ones that you have in your own backyard? I need to educate myself on Finnish archaeology.

Here’s a page inspired by a Troy town. Please switch over to Flickr if you want to read about the techniques and materials that I used.

The good thing about the Troy town layout is that it’s not the kind of labyrinth (or maze) where you get lost or eaten by a monster (or end up in front of a computer). It’s more like a spiral. You walk (or dance) along the path until you reach the centre and then you walk back out again, hopefully wiser than when you started. A comforting thought.

1 comment:

  1. Very funny cartoon. There is a labyrinth at a spiritual retreat that I visit periodically. It is very soothing and wonder filled for the soul.