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Friday 15 April 2011

Friday's Funerary Symbols ~ The Anvil

Verdriet en Geluk Lopen Samen
( Sorrow and Happiness Travel Together )
Chris Kotterer
13~02~1918     19~12~1997

Traditionally the Anvil symbolises the essential forging of the Universe and the one pictured above has an Anchor etched on it, which symbolises hope.

Saint Clement ~ who features in the Legend below ~ was the patron saint of Blacksmiths 
He was a Roman bishop, who died in 100AD.
He was martyred after having been bound to an anchor and thrown into the Black sea on November 23 of that year.

Legend of The Blacksmiths Anvil

People of the Ancients worlds regarded Blacksmiths as being endowed with supernatural skill, and therefore they were thought of as magicians, with divine powers. Because they worked with the elements of fire and air, they were able to turn rock ore into metals that made tools for farming, domestic implements and weapons for protection. This exclusive knowledge of metal-working was an art shrouded in mystery.
Throughout worldwide mythologies, blacksmiths were magical craftsmen who were looked upon as superior to other artisans, owing to their faculty of working with fire and of manipulating iron with ease and dexterity. It was believed that their wondorous abilities were above the plane of ordinary mortals, surely because they had received supernatural instruction. .
The importance of the blacksmith's art in early mediaeval times is told in the following tale.

King Alfred the Great ~ 849~899AD ~ assembled together seven of his main craftsmen, to appoint one of them as the Chief above the others. It would be awarded to the one whose craft could sustain the longest, without the assistance of the others.
Alfred invited them all to a banquet,  and commanded them to bring a specimen of their handiwork and the tools with which it was made. 
The blacksmith brought his hammer and a newly forged horse-shoe, the tailor his scissors and a newly sewn garment.
The baker brought his wooden bread-shovel and a loaf of freshly baked bread, the shoemaker brought his awl and a pair of newly stitched shoes.
The carpenter brought his saw and a squared plank, the butcher brought his boning-knife and a large piece of meat and the mason brought his trowel and a corner-stone.

After careful consideration, a decree was made that the tailor's work made him the best choice and so he was chosen to be the Chief of the artisans.
The blacksmith felt aggrieved and vowed to work no more, for as long as the tailor was chief, so he closed his forge and left.

Soon after, the King's horse lost a shoe and the remaining craftsmen, one after another wore down their tools. Although the tailor continued to ply his trade longer than the others, he too was soon obliged to cease work.
Whereupon the King and his artisans decided to try their hands at blacksmithing.
The King's horse trod on his royal master, the tailor burnt his fingers whilst the others met with various mishaps.

They began to quarrel among themselves and in the fracas, the anvil was overturned with a crash. Saint Clement appeared, arm in arm with the blacksmith and the King welcomed them respectfully, saying:
"I have made a bad mistake, my friends, in allowing myself to be beguiled by the tailor's fine cloth and his skillful handiwork; in common fairness the blacksmith, without whose aid the other workmen can accomplish nothing, should be proclaimed chief artisan."
The tradesmen, with the exception of the tailor, begged the worthy Blacksmith to make new tools for them, which he proceeded to do, including a brand-new pair of scissors for the tailor.
Then the King reorganized the society of artisans and proclaimed the Smithy as Chief, who was greeted with wishes for good health and happiness.
As celebrations began, a song entitled 'The Merry Blacksmith' was sung and can still be heard to this day at the festivities of tradesmen's guilds in England.

Saint Eligius ( Eloy ), is also represented as the guardian of farriers and blacksmiths. He flourished in the seventh century, and in his youth served as an apprentice to a goldsmith at Limoges, where he became very proficient in the art of working the precious metals.
According to a well-known legend, Saint Eligius was shoeing a horse, which refused to stand still, he is said to have cut off the animal's foot, to put on the shoe. After making the sign of the cross, he replaced the foot and the horse experienced no harm or ill effects.

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