Friday, March 15, 2013

The Abraham Men

The Abraham Men or Abram men were beggars in the Tudor and Stuart periods of England. They claimed to be released inmates from Bedlam. They may have been mentally ill, or they may have only pretended to be so in order to get away with begging and thievery and other sorts of mischief. Here I have one shouting and playing at being mad, beating himself about the head. The one on the right has been plucked from my sketchbook, where I have been drawing a person with a stick horse just lately. The tall fellow in the middle is in a hospital-type gown and it seems he may have stolen a pig's head from the local butcher. Or maybe he is divining with it. There is a fairy tale that includes a man pretending to divine the location of a lost jewel with a pig's head he'd recently stolen. In truth, he was hiding in the barnyard and saw the servant girl hid her mistress's jewel. I guess that struck my fancy and I've been hiding the figure away in my head for a while. It's "The Story of the Home-Bred Boy" a Tibetan fairytale. Find it if you can.

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