A few weeks ago, while browsing my favorite craft store, I happened upon this:
The fact that this type of art is EVERYWHERE must mean that it is also POPULAR...but why? I'll admit I have been really struggling with the stacked animal phenomenon for several reasons. I'll give you two: 1.) I don't get it. Why would a deer be standing on a camel's back? Is there a story behind the art, or is it meant to be a strange, humorous piece? 2.) Where did this whole animal stacking thing begin? It must have originated from someone or something.
Now, you may remember me writing in a past post on art appreciation, that the story behind the art can add value to the piece...it gives the art context and meaning. So, rather than writing off these stacks of animals entirely, I decided to do a little digging into the history of this type of art.
Being someone who is interested in folk tales, fairy tales, and illustrations, I must admit that I had some guess as to the origin of the stacked animals, and it turns out, I was correct! Some of you may be familiar with "The Town Musicians of Bremen," written by The Brothers Grimm, in which a donkey, dog, cat and rooster leave their masters (as they are past their prime, working years in life) and head to the town of Bremen to become musicians. On the way there, they come across a cottage where robbers are hiding out, enjoying their plunders. The animals decide to stand on each other to make a din (or a jumble of loud sounds). The robbers run out of the house, not knowing what the sound is. The animals then head into the house, eat a good meal, and relax. Later that night, the robbers send a lookout to see if the coast is clear. However, as soon as he lights his candle, his is quickly attacked by the animals. When he gets back to his companions, the robber tells them that he was attacked by witch who scratched him(cat), an ogre with a knife (dog), a giant who hit him with his club (donkey), and a judge who screamed from the rooftop (rooster). After hearing their companion's story, the robbers abandoned the cottage, where the animals lived happily ever after.
After reacquainting myself with this story, and reading a little about the folk art that came from this story, I can definitely have a better appreciation of the stacks of animals that have become so popular. While I still do not understand some of the strange combinations of animals standing on top of each other, I do appreciate the story that inspired such a pileup.
May your weekend be filled with inspiration and a willingness to look at things with an open mind!
3/20/2015 12:49:48 am
Beautiful story of the bear! BLESSED story of the bear! Lovely art work, Tara, clearly you are meant to inspire with your heart. And your blessed mother-in-law knows it. Having been engaged to one artist, and then marrying another, who was granted a Guggenheim Fellowship -- and clutching at that "too big honor" -- I know the struggle with ongoing inspiration... :)
9/6/2015 10:51:24 am
May also come from sightings like this: http://www.weather.com/series/crazimals/video/why-wouldnt-you-watch-a-tiny-goat-riding-a-tiny-horse
10/1/2018 07:25:29 pm
I had a Classics Illustrated comic book of this fairy tale when I was a kid back in the early 1960's...I recognized it right away.
2/3/2019 02:28:26 am
I received a small stacked animal figurine from the ship’s agent when my ship called to the Port of Bremen in 2014. I did not understand it’s significance until now. Thanks. 🙂
7/14/2019 07:53:54 pm
I live in los angels and I saw this statue in a Tibetan Buddhism temple. And I have a statue: bull at bottom, then pig, goat,rooster, I am trying to figure it out but no answers yet.
3/24/2021 11:26:50 am
The farmers totem pole ive got exactly these four😊
7/3/2022 02:27:50 pm
I forgot this story but mom read it to us when we were kids. I love this art. She always said see how much you can do if you just help one another.
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Welcome to the whimsical world of Tara Pappas' mixed media art! Thank you for stopping by to view samples of my work and read a little about my adventures as an artist. I am always looking for new ways to connect and grow as an artist, so would love to hear from you if you have any questions or interests in a particular piece. I hope that my work brings you inspiration and joy!
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