Monday, May 4, 2009

Gwendoloena, Merlin's wife

Unusual names from cultures all over the world provide the inspiration for my stoneware planters. Using a writers’ reference called the Character Naming Sourcebook, I’ve found some wonderfully mysterious-sounding names. The planters inspired by the Arthurian legends are named for Gwendoloena, Merlin’s wife; Nieve, the Lady of the Lake; and, Astolat, Lady of Shalott.

Malcah ("queen") in Hebrew

My Celtic planter, Morrigan, is the namesake of a war goddess. My French-inspired planters are Angelette (“little angel”) and Diamanta (“diamond”). From Germany there is Nadette (“the courage of a bear”). From Hebrew culture there is Malcah (“queen”) and from Hungary comes Zigana (“gypsy”). My Italian inspired planters are Benedetta (“blessed”) and Genevra.


Being of Welsh heritage, I'm a little partial to names from the country of my ancestors. So, my Welsh-inspired planters are Bronwyn (“dark and pure”), Gwener (“Venus”), and Morgan ("from the shore or sea").

Astolat, Lady of Shalott

I'm also partial to Native American names. My friend, Gene Barfield, a well-known local photographer who shows his work on the Roanoke Farmers’ Market, provided one of the best of these. After hearing the amazing story of his great, great, great, great, great (5 greats) grandmother, I began naming many of my Native American-themed planters after her. She has become one of my favorites.

Princess Coosaponakeesa

Fountain Planter

Her name was Princess Coosaponakeesa (“flying white horse”). She was the niece of emperor/warrior Brim of the Creek nation. It was that relationship that gave her the title, “princess.” Born in the 1700's, she was married 5 times. One of her husbands was John Musgrove, and she took the English name Mary Musgrove. She was a Yamacraw Indian of the Musogean tribe and the Wind clan, and she learned to speak English as well as Creek. She was the only Yamacraw Indian who spoke English at that time.

When military leader James Edward Oglethorpe landed in Savanna, Georgia in 1733, he selected her as the cultural liaison between Colonial Georgia and the Creek nation. For her services as an interpreter, she was given the islands of Sapelo, Ossabow, and St. Catherines near Savanna, Georgia in 1760. Later, the English took the land away from her and she became very upset. She was thrown in jail at Ft. Fredrica where she caused a lot of trouble. Eventually, she was reimbursed for the loss of her land with 2000 pounds sterling from the auction sale of Ossabow and Sapelo. She lived into her late 80's, an age that very few reached at that time.

Gene told me that James Oglethorpe visited Coosaponakeesa a lot after she finally settled in South Carolina’s Cowpens. He also gave her one of his rings before his final return to England. She, in turn, named two of her sons James and Edward. Hmmmmm … . Because of this, many people over the years have speculated that Oglethorpe wasn’t the “straight arrow” he was once thought to be.

Gene Barfield displaying photo of Taubman Museum in Roanoke, Virginia.
Gene's e-mail is

When I am finished sculpting and decorating my planters with all sorts of unusual items befitting the goddesses and princesses they are, I plant herbs in them. (Lemon verbena, chamomile, trailing thyme and oregano are among my favorites). Then, I load them in B-dazle (my art car) and take them to the Roanoke Farmers’ Market to sell on Saturday.

Angelette, French for ("little angel")

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments:

Post a Comment

If convenient, please leave a comment. I read every one and thoroughly enjoy hearing your thoughts.