Presentation on theme: "The guide for escape. Lukasa Memory Boards Beads, knots, arrangements, engraved patterns represent a complex visual language Art, knowledge and secrecy."— Presentation transcript:
Beads, knots, arrangements, engraved patterns represent a complex visual language Art, knowledge and secrecy in Africa demonstrated how history, religious beliefs and cultural stories were translated into designs and exhibited for all to see, but for few to understand
Songs and Sounds Africa tribes used talking drums to communicate with each other. Unlike those smoke signals, however, which basically sent generic messages, talking drums can be used to approximate the spoken language, and under the most ideal of conditions complex dialogues can take place between drummers positioned as much as twenty miles away. Usually, the conversations would only take place between drummers who were about five miles away and then passed on from drummer to drummer to the villages that were farther away. The use of talking drums as medium of communication was used to its greatest extent by those peoples who live in such western African countries as Ghana and Nigeria Talking Drums
The Underground Railroad was a secret network organized by people who helped men, women, and children escape from slavery to freedom. It operated before the Civil War (1861-1865) ended slavery in the United States. The Underground Railroad provided hiding places, food, and often transportation for the fugitives who were trying to escape slavery. Along the way, people also provided directions for the safest way to get further north on the dangerous journey to freedom.
A plantation seamstress would sew a sampler quilt containing different quilt patterns. Slaves would use the sampler to memorize the code. The seamstress then sewed quilts, each composed of one of the code's patterns. The seamstress would hang the quilts in full view one at a time, allowing the slaves to reinforce their memory of the pattern and its associated meaning. When slaves made their escape, they used their memory of the quilts as a mnemonic device to guide them safely along their journey, according to McDaniel.
Monkey Wrench This was the first quilt to be displayed, signifying that it was almost time to leave. The slaves understood this to mean “gather your tools for the journey”. If the plantation had a blacksmith, he was known as the “Monkey Wrench”, and was often ‘loaned out’ to other plantations, and was therefore familiar with the immediate countryside. Frederick Douglass was the 'monkey wrench' on his plantation prior to his escape. There is a monkey wrench family quilt of his hanging in the Smithsonian Institution.
Wagon Wheel The tumbling block pattern, which can be described as looking like a collection of boxes. "This quilt was only displayed when certain conditions were right. If, for example, there was an Underground Railroad agent in the area, it was an indication to pack up and go."
Carpenters Wheel Fugitive slaves were to follow the carpenter's wheel west-northwest.
Bears Paw Following the Bear's Paw prints in the woods would lead them to food and water on their journey
Basket When a quilt made of Baskets was displayed on their journey, fugitive slaves would stay in hiding until food was brought to them.
Crossroads Fugitive slaves would look for this quilt on their journey, indicating a major city up ahead, most often Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland was known as "Hope", and Detroit was known as "Midnight".
Log Cabin This square typically had red centers, signifying the hearth at the center of the home. When the center was yellow, it signified that the light was on, and it was safe to come in. Another meaning was that when they reached the shores of the great lakes, they would scratch the design of the log cabin in the dirt. Boat captains seeing this would know that there were some runaway slaves hiding nearby, looking for passage to Canada.
Shoo Fly Was a nickname for Harriett Tubman. This brings new meaning to the song "Shoo Fly, don't Bother Me"
Bow Ties Along their journey, their clothing became tattered and torn, drawing attention to them. When they saw a "Bow Tie" quilt hung to air out, it meant that they were to stay put, in hiding, and fresh clothing would be brought to them, enabling them to blend into society better.
Flying Geese Slaves escaping in the spring should notice and follow the direction of the geese returning north for the summer. Abolitionists along the route would make quilts with just one of the 4 patterns different. By hanging the quilt to air out, it would point the direction the slaves were to follow. It functioned as a huge arrow pointing the way
Birds in the Air This quilt was used similarly to "Flying Geese" symbolizing flight and migration.
Drunkards Path This quilt square reminded runaway slaves to travel in a meandering path, much like a drunkard. This would confuse the slave catchers and their dogs, especially if they walked in circles, throwing the dogs off their scent.
Sailboat This quilt square indicated that a boat would probably be required to ensure safe passage to Canada. After the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, slaves could be returned to their owners, even if found in 'free' states. It then became necessary to continue their journey until they reached Canada. Most crossings required a boat.
North Star The Big dipper points to the North Start. By following the North Star, they would always be heading in the right direction, north toward Canada.. The song "Follow The Drinking Gourd" is another famous song using the north star, with hidden directions to the Underground Railroad.
Nine Patch Once fugitive slaves reached Canada, they could work for land. For every three acres of land that they cleared, the Canadian government allowed them to keep one acre for themselves. The "Nine Patch" quilt square represented the "Nine Patch" garden they would plant when they earned their one acre of land. It signified their freedom, at last!
The bear's paw, directed slaves to head north over the Appalachian Mountains. "You were supposed to follow the literal footprints of the bear. Bears always go to water and berries and other natural food sources."
Harriet Powers Born a slave in Georgia in 1837, Harriet Powers created two quilts which are the best known and well preserved examples of Southern American quilting tradition still in existence. Using the traditional African appliqué technique along with European record keeping and biblical reference traditions, Harriet records on her quilts local historical legend, Bible stories, and astronomical phenomena. They are now on display in the Smithsonian.