Gullah Blue

Blue Hydrangea blooms“There is no blue without yellow and without orange.”
Vincent van Gogh, Post-Impressionist, 1853-1890

The color blue takes up a lot of space here. Perhaps it is the broad expanse of sky and sea. Blue houses and shutters protect those living inside from evil spirits (‘haints’) – a Gullah tradition that has its roots in the African American sea island culture, and includes stories like ‘haints’ can’t travel over water, which is another reason for the common use of blue paint, perhaps.

Historically, there is also interesting research that indicates that the number of people who died of the mosquito born disease of malaria was reduced substantially when the region was producing its highest quantity of Indigo, the blue color. The production, by slaves, was quite profitable to the plantation that produced Indigo for export, in the Lowcountry in the early 18th century.

Planters gave their slaves the dregs from the boiling pots, which the slaves used to decorate window frames and porch posts. The belief was that the blue color kept spirits away. Burial customs had changed from Africa to America. According to Roger Pinkney in his book Blue Roots. Africans previously buried bodies quickly, because of the heat, then gathered for a second burial in a year or so, when all the family could gather for a great feast and when the bones could be exumed, lovingly wrapped in cloth or leaves and prayerfully then reburied in a final resting place. When Indigo production ceased in the 1780’s, the tradition continued with blue paint, and continues to this day on Edisto Island and many other sea islands in South Carolina and Georgia.

But just right now, the earth is offering up her most breathtaking version of the color blue in the Carolina Lowcountry. The hydrandea bush is in bloom like I cannot remember. This one spectacular round blue bloom is in my neighbor’s yard on Legare Road on Edisto Island.

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I was called to be an artist. And as an old old midwife said to me "If the Lord wants you to do something, you won't have no good luck' til you do." So, here I am, sharing what I love, longing to illuminate the work of art, which is everywhere.

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Posted in art, Arts & Culture, beauty, creativity, Green, Gullah, religion, South Carolina History, spirituality
3 comments on “Gullah Blue
  1. Skip M says:

    And a nod to the brilliant and cerulean blue (claimed by my 5 year old to be his Aunt Charlotte’s favorite color) whose name comes from Latin “caeruleum” : “heavens”.

  2. Oh, sweet Skip. Your bright and curious son, I hope, will remember, perhaps…the color blue and, yes, my favorite shade of it. He is so quick, so beautiful. May we all be reminded of ‘the heavens’ …on a daily basis! Thank you for coming to read, to remark, my dear.

  3. Reblogged this on Charleston Through an Artist's eye and commented:

    It is not May, but blue is for everyday.

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What’s this?

Welcome to my blog about the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a place proud with beauty, history and art. Sometimes we feel a call, to be, to go, to do. I was called to be an artist, and as an old midwife from Alabama said, “If the good Lord wants you to do something, you won’t have no good luck until you do it.”

So here I am writing about what I know, about the 'under glimmer' as the poet Basho, says, the way I have learned to see, to notice. I am inspired by, and talking about the history and art and culture of this place that has called me to herself. By the ancestors.

My background includes a degree in fine arts from a small private college in Florida, and before that, four years of all girls' boarding school in Asheville. I worked as a professional photographer, helped my children grow up, and now and I love seasoned things, good food, better conversation, beauty, my beloved and beautiful Italian Greyhound, Beau. Moved by the sacred places and stories of this beautiful historic land called the Lowcountry, I am here in spirit and I hope to infect you with my love of this place.

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