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Legend of Skadar (Version 1), 1965

Kenneth ARMITAGE

Kenneth--Armitage-Legend-of-Skadar-(Version-1)-1965.jpg
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Wood and plaster maquette
44 cm high
Initialled

Conceived in 1965 this is a unique piece


Provenance
The Estate of the Artist.

 

Notes 

The Walled-Up Wife is a folkloric ballad of Eastern European and Indian origin that tells of the sacrifice by immurement of a female victim in order that the construction of a citadel or other built structure might successfully be completed. The ballad exists in many different forms, varyingly concerning the construction of a castle, a monastery, a bridge or a well. Versions of the ballad have been recorded across the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, and India.

The Building of Skadar, first published by the early Serbian folklorist Vuk Karadžić in 1815, represents the ballad in one of its classic forms. It takes as its subject the construction of a citadel in the ancient Balkan city of Skadar, or Shkodër, in present day Albania.

Three brothers and their three hundred strong workforce have been labouring in vain on the construction of a citadel on the Bojana River; for three years anything they have built during the day collapses at night.

A vila (nymph) calls to Vukašin, the master-builder, and the elder of the three brothers. She tells him that in order to end his torment and ensure that what he builds by day remains standing at night, the wife of one of the three brothers must be sacrificed: whoever of the three wives arrives first to bring their husband's lunch the following day should be walled-up inside the walls of the citadel.

Vukašin relates the vila's words to his two brothers and warns them to not say anything to their wives so that the outcome can truly be left to fate. He, however, breaks the oath, as does his brother Uglješa, and they both warn their wives of the danger and instruct them to not come to the construction site the next day. Only the youngest brother, Gojko, keeps the promise to not tell his wife.

The following day Gojko is heartbroken to see his wife approaching the citadel first. He explains away his tears to her, and the two older brothers lead her off to be immured. She at first thinks they are in jest and plays along, as "three hundred artisans" build up the wall to her knees. As the wall reaches her waist, however, she realizes their intent and pleads with the brothers, to no avail. She implores them to leave a window in the wall at her breast, so that she might continue to feed her infant son—and at her eye level, so that she can see when he is brought to her. This the builders grant her. For a week she continues to feed her son when he is brought to her, and, though her voice fades behind the wall after a week, milk continues to flow for her child for a full year thereafter—as it does from the walls of the citadel to the present day.

Legend of Skadar (Version 1), 1965

Wood and plaster maquette
44 cm high
Initialled

Conceived in 1965 this is a unique piece


Provenance
The Estate of the Artist.

 

Notes 

The Walled-Up Wife is a folkloric ballad of Eastern European and Indian origin that tells of the sacrifice by immurement of a female victim in order that the construction of a citadel or other built structure might successfully be completed. The ballad exists in many different forms, varyingly concerning the construction of a castle, a monastery, a bridge or a well. Versions of the ballad have been recorded across the Balkans, Greece, Turkey, and India.

The Building of Skadar, first published by the early Serbian folklorist Vuk Karadžić in 1815, represents the ballad in one of its classic forms. It takes as its subject the construction of a citadel in the ancient Balkan city of Skadar, or Shkodër, in present day Albania.

Three brothers and their three hundred strong workforce have been labouring in vain on the construction of a citadel on the Bojana River; for three years anything they have built during the day collapses at night.

A vila (nymph) calls to Vukašin, the master-builder, and the elder of the three brothers. She tells him that in order to end his torment and ensure that what he builds by day remains standing at night, the wife of one of the three brothers must be sacrificed: whoever of the three wives arrives first to bring their husband's lunch the following day should be walled-up inside the walls of the citadel.

Vukašin relates the vila's words to his two brothers and warns them to not say anything to their wives so that the outcome can truly be left to fate. He, however, breaks the oath, as does his brother Uglješa, and they both warn their wives of the danger and instruct them to not come to the construction site the next day. Only the youngest brother, Gojko, keeps the promise to not tell his wife.

The following day Gojko is heartbroken to see his wife approaching the citadel first. He explains away his tears to her, and the two older brothers lead her off to be immured. She at first thinks they are in jest and plays along, as "three hundred artisans" build up the wall to her knees. As the wall reaches her waist, however, she realizes their intent and pleads with the brothers, to no avail. She implores them to leave a window in the wall at her breast, so that she might continue to feed her infant son—and at her eye level, so that she can see when he is brought to her. This the builders grant her. For a week she continues to feed her son when he is brought to her, and, though her voice fades behind the wall after a week, milk continues to flow for her child for a full year thereafter—as it does from the walls of the citadel to the present day.