Today's Wonder of the World is...Handprints!
Flickr photo by IDSLR mania
Handprints always cheer me up. Unless they're sticky and on my window panes. (I have enough trouble keeping dog slobber off my windows.)
No, I'm talking about handprints that people make on purpose.
Flickr photo by flaviahenna
Well, not exactly. Though henna hands are beautiful!
Not prints on hands.
Prints OF hands. Handprints.
Flickr photo by tiffs pictures
Yep. That's more like it.
I've been thinking about the wonder of handprints ever since school started. Do you know why?
This is why.
If you have a young child, you may know about this book. It's The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn, and it's a family favorite. I discovered it when my oldest was starting kindergarten, and it's a perfect starting school book. But I'm warning you, it might make a mother cry.
Unless she's been entertaining a house full of children and their friends all summer long, feeding them every twenty minutes and driving them places, and she can't hardly wait for them to run off to school, so that she can have just a few moments of peace and quiet and get back to writing her book!
(Not that I would know anything about that.)
But after listening to The Writer's Almanac last Friday ( HERE) I knew I had to do a post on handprints.
Do you listen to the Writer's Almanac on NPR? It's a daily ritual for me. It helps me transition from the world of breakfast dishes and crazy last minute searches for shoes and last night's homework to the (hopefully) peaceful writing workday in front of my computer.
Last Friday on The Writer's Almanac, Garrison Keillor spoke about the caves of Lascaux France, in the Dordogne.
National Geographic photo
My French-ish ears perked up.
I LOVE the Dordogne and am fascinated by those caves and the 17,000 year old cave paintings. But the thing that particularly interested me was his last line about the caves, "One of the few traces left behind by the artists are their own handprints, which they made by tracing around their own fingers."
It filled me with questions. Were their handprints their signatures or part of the art? Why did they include them? What did it mean?
I did a little snooping around, and I found ancient handprints all over the world.
Like these in Talum, Mexico.
Flickr photo by fitchaction
Those are hard to see. Here's a close up.
Flickr photo by Nuhppir
Those are positive handprints, where the hands are painted and a print is made.
But there are also negative handprints, done stencil style. See one HERE from Handprint Cave in western Belize. It's a little spooky.
And here are some positive ones found in Owl Canyon, in Grand Gulch, Utah.
Flickr photo by agco
The most interesting thing I read was the theory that the caves were places of worship, and that as the worshippers descended into the caves, they believed they were nearing the spirit world. In fact, they thought the very rock wall that they painted was the membrane or veil separating them from the spirit world. So touching it, laying their hands on it, leaving their own imprints on it, must have been a deeply sacramental moment.
Or maybe not.
Who knows? It's interesting to think about it, anyway!
You know, if you think too much about hands and handprints, you start seeing them everywhere!
Flickr photo by clickclique
Or maybe that's a foot.
Some people should think a little more about handprints.
Flickr photo by Umbradox
Flickr photo by infacinatorinc
Hey! It's George! My sweet George! Cutie pie, what are you doing in my blog again?
Flickr photo by onlyv
Ahhh. I get it.
I'd trade those prints on my window for dog slobber any day!
Have a Wonder-full Wednesday and enjoy this incredible hand shadow art!
PS If you missed Robyn's beautiful post on the wonders of hands back on our big party day, stop by for a looksie HERE. It's wonderful!
PS Again...I meant to include in this post a really fun thing to do with prints that Todd did with the big kids when they were younger. We live near a river and are always finding prints left by the wildlife there--mostly raccoons and deer. They used to hike around and make plaster casts of the prints. Have you ever done this? Just pick up plaster of Paris from a craft store, take it with you to the print site, add water and stir in a baggie, and then pour over the prints and let it harden. You get permanent casts that are really cool! I can't believe it, but in my mania of moving to France, I threw out every single one of those casts. We'll have to make some new ones!