Saturday, August 28, 2010
Return of the Krampus ~
While I'm posting blurry images, this one has been in my mind of late ~ ( a pic of the pic will have to do ~ it's from a new historical survey of Early American Photography ). It is a documentary photo, of a past event re-staged as a performance - yes, RE-staged. The event was the kidnapping of a North Carolina Republican, back in the days when the Republicans were against slavery, by the Klu Klux Klan. Before his whipping could take place, he was rescued by a marshall who happened to be a former Klansman himself. The marshall was a shrewd self-promoter, or a theater director as they're sometimes called. He re-staged the event, using the outfits of the arrested Klan members. An added strangeness is that if you look closely at the hands in the photo, you notice that the Klan actors in this tableau are black, whether friends or hires is not known.
What surprised me is the costumes. These early Klan outfits have horns and beards ~ they look like the Krampus. Are the KKK direct descendants of the Krampus, Woden/St. Nick's "Black Peter," bringing switches, coal, and a beating to children, such as black men and abolitionists, who haven't behaved? Is this a photo of the Germanic Mannerbund? Or does the boogie man always have horns and a beard?
The cone-shaped headpieces have ancient European precursors as well, as I discovered in the ballad research on The Wife of Usher's Well. Some examples of the old shamanic head-cones, representing, so it is thought, empowering light rays, from the sun, or perhaps the otherworld anti-sun, have been found in ancient burials, made of hammered gold. In The Wife of Usher's Well, the hats worn by the returned dead sons are made of bark, possibly birch, one of the rune trees.