20 Mar 2016

Palm Sunday Twists & Turns

In the Christian calendar, Palm Sunday (also referred to as Passion Sunday) celebrates the triumphal arrival of Jesus Christ on colt-back in the city of Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection, where the population welcomed him by waving palms and laying them on his path, as a sign of gratitude.


Palm Sunday heralds the start of the Holy Week, which culminates into the Easter celebrations. Traditionally Christians take palms or box, olive, willow or yew branches to their local church on Palm Sunday for those to be blessed by the priest and bring good fortune to abodes and households. The branches are kept for one year, and laid on a mantelpiece, vanity, cabinet or other chosen piece of furniture, or placed between a cross/ holy picture frame mounted on the wall and the actual wall itself. Some Christians place the blessed palms on the graves of loved ones. Some will hang a piece of palm frond woven into a cross by the rear view mirror of their car.

Now whether you are a believer or not, you cannot fail to recognise that some of those palm pieces are works of Art all to themselves as the fresh, young and tender leaves are split, bent and painstakingly interwoven into intricate patterns, creating religious representations or more abstract ones. In Corsica, the event makes the local news every year without fail, as both the religious fervour and the craft are celebrated.


However in recent years, the local palm trees have been suffering from major setbacks in the form of red palm weevil infestations brought by trade imports from the Far East, via container ships and contaminated wood pallets. As a result, it is becoming difficult to source healthy young and tender palm. Meanwhile we need to ensure that the palm-weaving craft, a fragile piece of cultural heritage, is shared and carried through from one generation to the next, or it may one day vanish altogether once the elders and other individuals in the know are gone.

Featured here is a proud example of Corsican craft applied to Corsican palm. There is a lot going on in the technique (look at those layers!), and Mirabelle is very admirative of it! So pretty in its sophisticated simplicity!


Source: All photography by Mirabelle.

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