About a life devoted to the love for Folklore, Mythology, Legends and.....Art

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tell me a story; The origin of stained glass

A most curious story was send to me some time ago. When I first read it I wasn't sure if the story was suitable for the book as it was very modern and in a way it was more a fairytale then a folk tale. For some time I laid the story a side, but for some reason my attention was constantly drawn to it. Yes, it was a little bit too modern and yes, it wasn't a 'real' folk tale, but it was so beautiful and unique but above all it was something I never heard before.

So, I contacted Nicholas and asked him how he had heard of the tale. As it turned out his girlfriends father is a marvelous storyteller and the tale about the origin of stained-glass was just one of the many tales he had told his daughter. He also told her that when she was born she was so small she had been the size of a mustard jar.
As far as Nicholas knew, the tale has never been put on paper before and I do not doubt his words for I am certain of it that I would have heard of it if so.

This tale may not have a very long tradition but perhaps now it will be passed on and who knows, it might become a real folk tale someday.....

(Please, click picture for bigger and better view)

Story Title: The origin of stained glass
Submitted by: Nicholas Corcorran
Country: Main (USA)

Once, there was a compact little princess with golden curls. Hair softer than silk that shone brighter in the sun than any of the diamonds or golden necklaces sold in the goldsmith’s shop. The people of the castle and surrounding town all loved this princess because despite her beauty she was not vain. She never spent a single dollar on herself. Of course she was so beautiful she needed no jewelry to boost her image. She spent the money improving the town and investing in its development. She paid for the roads to be paved and bridges to be built. To protect the townspeople she built a tall and thick wall. It was taller and wider than any wall. And the people of the town were happy because they were safe.

This princess threw a giant Feast at the change of each season to celebrate all that was healthy and vibrant in music and food and art and drink. And these were no paltry fairs or fly by night parties. They were well organized and extravagant. The princess had musicians and chefs and artists from all over the world visit the town to perform, and share their delicious creations and put on display the beauty of their works.

One particular year, at the Feast For Spring, a young band of street gypsies appeared in the court to perform for the princess. These gypsies were dressed in vibrant colors of cloth, and both the men and women in the troupe wore make up on their faces. The leader of the gypsies was a smooth-tongued man, vocalist, dabbler in magic, and an accomplished poet. He could recite in full, the great tales from the Far East, The Amazon, and The Outback in their native languages. The gypsies performed amazing feats of balance, played tricks with fire. They took over the evening and after several encores, their performance lasted until morning. Then the townspeople stumbled home to their beds, and the princess took this well spoken gypsy up to her room to hear more of his stories.

Later, while he was sleeping, she discovered a small folio. On the parchment were written all the words he had spoken to her. Words which he claimed to be professions of love, but which she now realized were merely lies told to seduce her. Quickly, before he woke and could again beginning spinning his love words and tales of lies, she ran high up to the vault tower. It was the safest place in all of the kingdom - a tower so tall its views looked out upon the surface of the clouds, too tall to ever climb.

In the vault tower, she opened a golden chest, and placed her heart inside of it, so that no one, not even the gypsy could ever again try to steal it from her. Upon returning to her chamber she immediately had her guards banish the gypsy and his troupe from the castle, hoping it was the last time she would ever see or hear from him again. Just in case, she had the walls built higher and thicker to safeguard her heart and prevent him from seducing any of the other eager hearts in her kingdom.

At first the gypsy beat upon the giant oak doors to the castle, first with his fist and then with his open palm, hoping that the loud smacks would resonate and carry up over the walls. He beat out different rhythms he had learned from deep in the bush of Africa, ones that mimicked the language spoken between two lovers… heartbeats.

He gathered his fellow gypsies and called upon others. He acquired orchestras and musicians. Every man, woman, and child he’d ever known to strike a chord he asked for help. Day and night he sent songs up into the air, pleading for the princess to just let him explain. But she heard none of it.

He tried throwing up rope and building a ladder but the walls proved too tall.

One night, as he rested beneath the stars he looked up into the skies asking the gods for a sign. It was then that The Great Bear shone brightly in the sky. Many people today refer to this constellation as the big dipper, but in ancient times it was the inspiration for an invention that went on to become revolutionary. Not coincidentally it would go on to be used in war, but in this case it was built for love, which many great philosophers have considered to be the same thing.

The gypsy sent for great minds, mechanics and engineers. With the help of a very old man from what is present day China, the world’s first catapult was constructed.

(For reasons that have never been properly explained, the catapult was never tested. Why these great engineers would never have tested the invention before allowing the gypsy to use it has befuddled historians for thousands of years. Perhaps the gypsy just couldn’t stand to wait any longer.)

So, the moment the construction was finished, the gypsy, holding the folio which had began the whole mess in the first place, climbed inside the cup of the catapult, and told his men to aim for the tower. He knew that a great haystack sat at the base of the tower, which was near the royal stables. He was convinced destiny would provide him a safe landing.

The engineers ratcheted back the catapult, and with no one wishing to pull the lever, the gypsy picked up a stone and threw it at the lever, thus literally launching himself into history.

It should come as no shock, that an untested catapult will provide unexpected results. The catapult was too powerful. Some say this was caused because his love for the princess was too great. It shot him high into the air. Higher than the birds fly and up among the stars, leaving what is now known as the atmosphere. Upon his decent back to earth, he came down as a flaming comet crashing directly on top of the vault tower.

(One other piece of information that has been lost in the centuries of history is why the ceiling of the vault tower was made of glass. Many think the princess would climb up the tower at night in order to feel closer to the stars. In fact many people believe she was a fallen star and this was where she actually slept because sleeping that high helped her feel less homesick. Nevertheless, the ceiling was made of a thick glass, which had been crafted to be unbreakable of course, for it was a vault tower.)

The princess raced up to the vault tower along with her most trusted guards. What she saw gave her a great shock and caused her a shortness of breath. The dye from his clothes and the blood from his body had soaked into the glass ceiling. Which is where stained glass comes from.

The guards removed the body from the ceiling very carefully and when they set him upon the ground the princess noticed a giant hole in his chest. At first she took this as a sign that her suspicions were confirmed. That the man in fact had no heart. But another guard, concluding that none of the other valuables in the tower had been disturbed told the princess she must take a look at something.

Sitting inside of the golden chest, right where the princess’ heart was kept, was the folio which had started this whole mess. Each page was stained the deepest colors of crimson. When the gypsy landed he had held out the folio to break his fall. The impact of the fall had been so great that his aching heart had exploded out of his chest and been pressed into the pages of the book.

The princess flipped through the book until she reached the last page. Which was left blank. Using white ink, she wrote these words:

I have been waiting my entire life to speak these words.
I have traveled this far
to find your heart.
Spent all of my days to know your face.
I was born to love you,
and that is what this book was intended to prove.
So that whenever you look upon these pages you can see my heart.

For it was intention forever and always to give it to you.

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