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Folklore: Border Morris Origins?

GUEST,Graham O'Callaghan 23 Feb 15 - 02:55 AM
Les in Chorlton 23 Feb 15 - 03:18 AM
Tradsinger 23 Feb 15 - 04:19 AM
GUEST,John J 23 Feb 15 - 04:55 AM
Mr Red 23 Feb 15 - 05:39 AM
Les in Chorlton 23 Feb 15 - 08:02 AM
Manitas_at_home 23 Feb 15 - 10:30 AM
ripov 23 Feb 15 - 11:16 AM
GUEST,Morris-ey 23 Feb 15 - 11:28 AM
Les in Chorlton 23 Feb 15 - 12:44 PM
Manitas_at_home 23 Feb 15 - 01:45 PM
Jack Campin 23 Feb 15 - 02:36 PM
Les in Chorlton 24 Feb 15 - 03:40 AM
Mr Red 26 Feb 15 - 04:07 AM
Les in Chorlton 26 Feb 15 - 06:01 AM
banksie 26 Feb 15 - 06:24 AM
GUEST,Reynard 26 Feb 15 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,Selby 26 Feb 15 - 10:49 AM
Jack Campin 26 Feb 15 - 12:22 PM
Les in Chorlton 26 Feb 15 - 01:56 PM
Mr Red 26 Feb 15 - 02:30 PM
Mr Red 26 Feb 15 - 03:00 PM
Les in Chorlton 26 Feb 15 - 05:30 PM
Manitas_at_home 27 Feb 15 - 01:48 AM
Les in Chorlton 27 Feb 15 - 03:56 AM
Mr Red 27 Feb 15 - 05:28 AM
Les in Chorlton 27 Feb 15 - 05:43 AM
Mr Red 05 Mar 15 - 03:26 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: GUEST,Graham O'Callaghan
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 02:55 AM

As an ex Border Morris dancer from many years back, can anyone tell me if the traditions of the 'Tras Os Montes' area of Portugal have been explored, where on certain Saints days in the mountains, various villages dress up in 'ragged' costumes, wear masks, and have a tradition of stick dances?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 03:18 AM

When on a Ramblers Holiday near Lake Titicaca we saw a group of dancers in the street who looked for all the world like some strange multicoloured collection of Morris Dancers. A link?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Tradsinger
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 04:19 AM

In Tras os Montes (top right of Portugal), the stick dance tradition is separate from the masking tradition. The stick dances are done in just 11 villages around Mirando do Douro and the dancers are called Pauliteiros. If you try that word on Youtube, you'll find plenty of footage. Similar stick dances are done all over the north of the Iberian peninsula, from Catalonia to Castile (not Galicia so far as I know) and there is a superficial resemblance to Morris double stick dances. Again on Youtube, look "Ball de Bastons" or "Muelas del Pan" and you'll see examples. The dancers wear bells and the music is by bagpipe, pipe and tabor and sometimes drum. Although you can look at the dances and say they look a bit like Morris, it is impossible to find a clear audit trail from one to the other.

The masking tradition is a midwinter thing, in both Portugal and north-western Spain and is usually one person from the village who dresses up and causes jovial mayhem running through the streets. Try the word Zangarron in Youtube and you'll be well rewarded.

There is a fabulous museum of masks in Braganca, Tras os Montes. See here.

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: GUEST,John J
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 04:55 AM

I was on a walking trip in Spain recently and came across Zangarron - fascinating stuff. I felt that the mask worn by the Zangarron to be very reminiscent of the Minehead hobby horse I once saw when it ventured north to Bollington in Chashire..

When I got home from the walk I did a bit of gurgling the web and came across teams / sides of dancers that resembled Border Morris quite closely. It seems there's nowt new in the world.

JJ


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Mr Red
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 05:39 AM

Now dare we make the connection between Morris & Moorish that is often alluded to?

Moorish & Spain is then obvious.

Pure speculation but we do have shipwrecked sailors from the Armada and pirates etc. There are almost as many explanations as there are "experts", (I add in Moresque just for devilment). But my contention in these contexts is "why can't multiple roots apply". We are talking about people, and fool is the person who reckons they can predict the mind of "people". Especially those they have no cognizance of.

People would use a word to describe a notion and the one that held sway would be the most convincing, regardless of actuality.

Black faces? Is it mimicry, disguise or tradition? Pick your year and they can all be true. Multiple roots rules apply.

Rag dress could easily be parallel evolution, but who knows. Sticks are easier to come by and safer than the swords used in the region for some display dances.

Whatever the roots of Morris/Moresque there is enough evidence to confirm that ceremonial dancing existed before Moresque was documented. Whatever form it took. And fashion is fashion, incorporating "rich-mans'" entertainment is a well understood fashion. Morphing would take place. Designer dancing!

Abbots Bromley - reindeer horns carbon dated to 1065 when reindeer were extinct in England (& Scotland probably). And A B is on the river Trent system which points towards Scandawegia. Oh dear! I seem to have muddied the waters yet more. A B dancers don't regard themselves as "Morris" - given the dates makes my point, I think.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 08:02 AM

Did 'Moorish' men of the Muslim faith dance strange dances in Spain before they get finally chucked out around 1492?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 10:30 AM

They weren't strange to them I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: ripov
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 11:16 AM

Dancing while wearing strange clothes and waving sticks seems to be a universal art form - capoeira, morris, the portugese and catalan varieties. plenty of African tribal dance - its all on youtube, just search for "stick dances"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 11:28 AM

Clearly the spread of Border style dancing in mainland Europe was a result of the Shropshire Blackface diaspora circa 1250 a.d.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 12:44 PM

"Did 'Moorish' men of the Muslim faith dance strange dances in Spain before they get finally chucked out around 1492? "

This was a question. Is their any evidence to this effect - strange or not?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 01:45 PM

There was a reference in a book about the Templars to a soldier bringing home dances he had observed Muslim troops using to train themselves to move together but the author didn't cite any sources. I believe there has been reference here to morris-like dances being performed in North Africa but I suppose this is just as likely to have been transported from Spain to North Africa as the other way.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Feb 15 - 02:36 PM

This is an Arab stick dance, but it seems to be stylized threshing, not combat:

dance in Dubai
similar dance in Saudi Arabia

This Egyptian dance is stylized combat, but it's more like capoeira than morris:

Tahtib


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 03:40 AM

Does this suggest that the only connection between Morris and Moorish etc is that they sound a bit the same?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Mr Red
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 04:07 AM

Does this suggest that the only connection between Morris and Moorish etc is that they sound a bit the same?
well yes and no. Pick yer expert.
I was told by Steve Rowley who considered doing a PhD on Folk, and he showed me the books written on the subject complete with timeline somewhat like this -

Acrobats, tumblers, athletes performed in richmans' edifices over Europe as entertainment, and were most likely of Indian origin (Arabic implied) or the general region. They danced in a very accomplished way. Richmans' history is better documented!
As the years (make that centuries) progressed, the fashion migrated downwards (aka cheaper) and the local dancers, in order to tap in to the lucrative fashion would use some form of makeup to look like these experts. The popular misconception was they were from Spain, Shakespeare having put some of that knowledge into the cannon with Othello. The dancers were known as Moresque as a result. Morris and Moorish are derivative.

My contention is that when it migrated down to the minions, and was actually documented as such, the mimicry would not be entire but would be part of the repertoire of local troupes who had to beg during a season they couldn't work on the farm. The black faces being useful to hide their embarrassment of begging. But black (charcoal) being cheap and faux makeup signifying "foreign". The dance moves would incorporate whatever they were familiar with, the genre would morph slowly into what we regard as Morris.

But as folklorist/author Roy Palmer told me, why not Moorish as in "Mores and customs, Moreish?", as I said, pick your expert. Multiple roots give more credence to the appeal of a descriptive term. Language does migrate/morph ask any lexicographer. And doesn't leave a precise audit trail. Until the internet - ish.

Abbots Bromley Dancers tour Cannock Chase. Which is a Moor by any stretch of the imagination. Moorish has another connection! Did illiterate people display their right to hunt deer there as an affirmation of their rights? The horns would strongly suggest it. How many more moors were danced likewise where the custom morphed into something less legal?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 06:01 AM

Thanks Mr Red, couple of minor points:

"Acrobats, tumblers, athletes performed in richmans' edifices over Europe as entertainment, and were most likely of Indian origin (Arabic implied) or the general region. "

Why Indian? India isn't Arabia and what is a general area?

Isn't this kind strategy known as "Cherry Picking". The "Researcher" and I use that term ironically, looks at a vast collection of evidence then chooses tiny bits to support some already conceived hypothesis.

Dog is god backwards and Jehovah rhymes with Rover - conclude what you like.

The most compelling evidence I have read is in Stations of the Sun by Ronald Hutton. He quotes Barbara Lowe - the first real attempt for one and a half centuries to examine the earliest records of the Morris (p264/5). She suggest the evidence is of a courtly dance that escaped into the countryside. Barbara's essay was written for the EFDSS - "It's implications were utterly ignored"

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: banksie
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 06:24 AM

I do remember, many years ago, seeing one of those early Sunday morning BBC2 programmes aimed, if I recall, at the Pakistani community in the UK. The programme showed a dance troop of 8 dancers (I think, it was at least 30 years ago now). They danced various figures but kept returning to one in particular. It took a little while but I suddenly realised why it seemed familiar - it was the chorus from the Cotswold dance, Young Collins.

Around the same time I read the suggestion that the Celtic communities had originally come from Asia Minor, spreading by sea across the Med, up round the Iberian peninsula and up the west coast of France, England, Ireland and Scotland.

It struck me at the time that the similarity of the dance could be evidence of that cultural dispersal many centuries ago.

It also occurred to me that the dance could easily have been observed by British squaddies etc out in India during the early days of the British Raj. Squaddies in particular would have been shipped home after a tour of duty and could easily have brought the `moves' home with them.

It even occurred to me that the Pakistani dancers may have even learned it from watching English squaddies dancing Morris back in the 19th century.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 10:44 AM

How similar was it really? Unless it was totally uncanny, I would have thought that coincidence would be more likely than any of those explanations.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: GUEST,Selby
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 10:49 AM

I always thought Border Morris was the result of a box players imagination.
Keith


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 12:22 PM

Acrobats, tumblers, athletes performed in richmans' edifices over Europe as entertainment, and were most likely of Indian origin (Arabic implied) or the general region.
Why Indian? India isn't Arabia and what is a general area?


Gypsy musicians have a virtual monopoly of certain kinds of entertainment across the Muslim world, e.g. the davul/zurna wedding bands of Turkey. They started out in north India, and arrived in Britain at about the same time as the first records of morris dance. So this seems possible (just), but you'd expect them to have brought the nagaswaram/zurna/mizmar/bombarde/shawm with them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 01:56 PM

It does seem reasonably clear that musicians and entertainers moved around more than ab it but ............... didn't the Gypsy people come from a Hindu rather than Muslim area of India? I am getting lost in my own ignorance here, no change there then?

But the point I was making was that cherry picking bits of evidence from all over the world and most of recorded time will prove anything and nothing.

Morris was a courtly entertainment that escaped into the English country side and has been kept alive by mostly rural working people for 5 or 6 hundred years - what a fantastic story!

Have a read of "Stations of the Sun" Ronald Hutton pp 264.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Mr Red
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 02:30 PM

you'd expect them to have brought the nagaswaram/zurna/mizmar/bombarde/shawm with them
Maybe they did, but as the dance troupes over the years proliferated they became populated with indigenous performers who would have used instruments they could make and play.
And would these Asian itinerant acrobats settle in the British Isles or would they keep following the money? Tick both of the above but not in every case. Fashions is fashions. And they morph. Affluent audiences get tired of the "same" and warm to the novel. Things change. Pick yer year. But the evidence shown to me was that it all moved down market morphing as it went. And proliferating as any thing (cf technology) does when it becomes affordable.

Is anyone here seduced by the word "designer"? Thought not. It has lost its original reason as it moved down market.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Mr Red
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 03:00 PM

I think escaped into the countryside is what I have been saying. Except escape was more likely mimicry. "I'll have a grab of what they are making" as it were.
X Factor, Britains Got Talent (whatever they are) and Karaoke are the modern day equivalent of the process I have described.
Plus ça change.

FWIW I understood the Celts (predating Moresque by at least 2000 years) were from the central Europe possibly with cultural origins in Indian/Arabian region, if taken far enough back. Their migration was as much cultural as physical. The Celts moved slowly over the top of Europe, via Austria and Germany.
The Iberian route is known but the English channel would have been reached first. I don't see the Celts have much to say about Morris, given the Roman occupation, and the dirth of Morris in the Celtic regions.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 05:30 PM

Chocolate teapot anybody?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 01:48 AM

Plenty of Morris in Northern Spain and Portugal, areas with Celtic heritage.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 03:56 AM

Men dance all over the world

Puno, Lake Titicaca


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Mr Red
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 05:28 AM

In years to come, say 100, there will be this erudite discussion on how break dancing evolved from Morris on the basis that the Demon Barber had both in his show.
By those kinda peeps who like to play tunes with Chocolate Teapots.

I can wait to be proved right.............


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 05:43 AM

Me too Mr Red, I hope we are both around to eat the tea pots too


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Border Morris Origins?
From: Mr Red
Date: 05 Mar 15 - 03:26 AM

beware what you wish for - it may come to pass (pun intended)


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