Updated: Sep 6, 2020
A rather fine scarecrow appeared in a field near to where I walk the dogs the other day. I thought it was great - the dogs thought otherwise - ruffs up and copious amounts of barking....this was obviously a threat (although the crows didn't appear even slightly bothered!)
With its white shirt flapping gently in the wind it made me wonder as to the origins of the scarecrow, we take them for granted but where did they come from?
The first scarecrows were used about 3,000 years ago. They were made by the Egyptians to protect their wheat fields, especially along the Nile River.
Greek farmers would fashion their scarecrows to look like Priapus, who was the son of Dionysus and Aphrodite. Poor old Priapus was very ugly and scared the birds away.
Japanese farmers would hang old rags, meat, and fish bones on their creations. The smell itself was enough to keep not only birds, but all creatures away from their crops.
In New York vineyards 20 ft inflatable tube-men, also known as air dancers, are used as scarecrows.
In Medieval Britain, after the Great Plague, scarecrows were used to replace the boys who were paid to wander the fields with bags of stones to throw at the birds as so many had died.
In Wray, Lancaster they hold a scarecrow festival that has been running for 26 years, last year they attempted the world record for the most people dressed as scarecrows, with almost 300 people dressing up - this record is now held by the Provincial Government of Isabela in Ilagan, Phillippines who on 25 January 2019 achieved some 2,495.
There is a Japanese village called Nagoro which has 35 inhabitants, but over 350 scarecrows.
In 1906, a newspaper article told of a Hungarian farmer, Eugene Plozy, who, when his wife passed away, took her body and set it up in his orchard to scare the birds from his fruit trees.
The scarecrow face prosthetics that Ray Bolger wore in The Wizard of Oz left a pattern of lines on his face that took more than a year to vanish.
Scarecrows are known by different names in different places:
Gallybagger - Isle of Wight
Tattie-bogle - Scotland
Hodmedod - Berkshire
Murmet - Devon
Bwbach - Wales
Mommet - Somerset
There, don't you feel enlightened now?