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Gypsy Campfire - Outsider Art

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All items1966 of 223462THOMAS KELLY - USA A Colorful Clump of Quartz Crystal
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    Posted 2 months ago

    (150 items)

    Purchased this for pocket-change a long, long time ago. Laying on the floor along with a lot of debris in a going out of business in Zanesville, Ohio. It is painted on an old piece of burlap - starched I believe; three feet by two feet. It is not signed.

    I don't know how old it is. I continue to wonder if the artist was around that campfire (late 1800's scene?) or if it was simply "in his mind's eye". Love the facial expressions - the "attitudes".

    Enlarge to see it better.

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    1. PhilDMorris PhilDMorris, 2 months ago
      Colourful and happy people which always make for a great painting. So much personality you want to look at all their faces & look at this wonderful scene !~
    2. dav2no1 dav2no1, 2 months ago
      Great piece...
    3. keramikos, 2 months ago
      VioletOrange, Fascinating.

      Especially the description of the medium (starched burlap).

      I'm inclined to think the subject matter is a product of the artist's imagination, however.

      A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away away I read all of the books at my local library about Roma culture (it was a pretty small handful, let me tell you).

      Like any other culture, theirs has rules about how to behave, but their rules about nudity have some interesting features, e.g.:


      Matters of impurity among the Roma are complex. Impurity is determined by the rules of marime, or defilement, which imposes constraints and some degree of isolation on women during menstruation, post-partum, and sometimes in pregnancy."6 These restrictions appear generally similar to those in Jewish law,87 in India from where Gypsies dispersed one-thousand years ago, and in some other codes of hygiene and behavior.88 The rules define the details of daily interaction. For example, since the lower bodies of women are particularly marime, or polluted due to menstruation and childbirth, a woman may not walk close to a seated man because her genitalia will beat the level of his face.89 That would cause him to be polluted and 4o require that he be restored to a pure state by a cleansing ritual. Carmichael, writing on Jewish law, considers such rules to represent life and death, in which menstrual blood is a symbol of a potential life lost,and perhaps a metaphor for other lives lost by the spilling of blood.' More unusual, a central aspect of the Gypsy justice system is the power of a woman of child-bearing age to invoke a state of pollution, or marime. She does this by lifting or "tossing her skirt[s]" (typically long and wide) to reveal her frontal nudity.91 By doing so, the woman imposes a serious state of pollution on the men who see her, causing any confrontation to come to a halt and disperse.92 This magical power to curse may come to an end at menopause, though elder women attain a different power in the community.


      The largely nude dancing woman was on the brink of putting the male members of her community in jeopardy.
    4. keramikos, 2 months ago
      BTW, that seated woman showing a lot of decolletage would be 'accurate,' in that Roma culture doesn't regard upper body nudity for a woman as anything offensive or dangerous.
    5. VioletOrange VioletOrange, 2 months ago
      VERY interesting comments Keramikos, thanks
    6. keramikos, 2 months ago
      VioletOrange, You're welcome. :-)

      Those few books were very interesting.

      I can't recall all of the details, but one researcher approached a small group of very young (not even teenagers yet) Roma girls in an Italian train station. I believe he just wanted to ask them some questions about Roma culture, but they felt threatened by the approach of a strange Gadjo, and instinctively all raised their skirts.

      Even those he wasn't a Rom male, it had the desired effect, albeit not for quite the same reason. None of them were wearing undergarments, and the man was embarrassed and flustered, so he stopped his approach.
    7. AmphoraPottery AmphoraPottery, 18 days ago
      I love the painting purely on artistic merit. The cast of characters make it all the better.
    8. VioletOrange VioletOrange, 18 days ago
      AmphoraPottery, yes a special cast of character indeed. Thank you for all your comments.

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