The Memory of Horse Hair

The Memory of Horse Hair

I get a lot of questions when discussing my designs however the most common is always an inquiry in one form or another into the choice of horse hair as a material.

Horses have been our constant companions for thousands of years. It has been a mutual relationship built on respect, trust and balance. Horses gave us access to power we did not possess ourselves and opened our worlds. They gave us the opportunity to settle in place and travel large distances to hunt and return in a single day rather that constantly following our food. We understandably had reverence for the horse for this reason and many ancient cultures included them in their divination practices and belief systems.

Volin Carved HorseEarly horse sculpture

Horses were used in protection magic. A horseshoe over the front door to ward of evil for instance is a practice many still carry on today whether they understand its energetic ritual background or just keep it for "good luck". It is also said that horses can sense evil spirits and warn of danger therefore keeping a horse skull around after their passing helped people to ward off evil spirits. Horse skulls have been found hidden under front door thresholds and even hidden in ceilings over church bells. Horse tails charged with additional rites from community practitioners were also highly coveted protection talismans for stables and horses themselves promising long life, strength and freedom from all ills.  

Lascaux Cave - HorsesLascaux Cave - Horses

 

Early Western Slavic tribes practiced hippomancy by breeding sacred horses as oracles. They would walk these horses over a few spears placed on the ground and the way the horse walked over those spears and the exact placement of the hooves, including whether the horse stepped directly onto a spear, foretold the outcome of their inquiry. This is just a peek into some of my ancestral ties to horses and I urge you all to follow your own lineages to find your story with horses. We know of many horse cultures throughout the world and each have their ties to specific breeds and histories.

Ancient White Horse of Uffington

Ancient White Horse of Uffington

Horses gave us access to the practical as well as the divine; help on the hunt, transportation and farming. Horses hair also found many uses such as an ingredient for plaster, for creating brushes, insulation and furniture stuffing, also the bows for stringed instruments, as well as fine art paint brushes, fabrics and fishing line. As a natural replenishable resource it is strong and extremely versatile.

All materials I choose to work with hold meaning, representative and innate energy and are natural. Horse hair as a material is no different and comes with an added aesthetic value that no other natural material can replicate with strength. As hair is sourced from a living being it's full of the energy of a natural spirit full of its own storied life. Its choices, experiences and environment are all a part of the essence of the hair. Genetics are passed from unbroken chains of relatives and their links to our ancestors. Horse hair therefore has this memory and ancient link that I needed as an element for these pieces. The concept for the collection tackles a generational interspecies trial. Spend enough time around other animals and you'll realize they struggle with limiting beliefs as much as humans do. 

As a material horse hair has strength and a will of its own. It does not grow in straight lines nor does it want to behave in a controlled manner. Though strangely what I typically see of horse hair in use in craft and creation always seeks to tame it and to demonstrate dominance over that physical memory. I see this material for what it is and celebrate its wild nature. It's wiry multidirectional and tapering physicality creates this wild ethereal essence that I wanted to capture with these pieces. It has a witchy other-worldly vibe and because of its strength can stand up to everyday lifelong wear.

Icelandic Horse