Monday, 22 April 2013

The Blessings of Baba

Photo: Oleksandr Dirdovsky
Did you know that among Ukrainians the term for grandmother is Baba?  While the name Mama is universal it seems, Baba is a special term, loved among Ukrainians for her empathy, care and love.

It makes me so happy to read that Ukraine is reinterpreting for herself, the archeological treasures scattered in museums of former colonizers.  Re-assessing the ancient stone steppe stelae called babas is an important step in reclaiming her mystical and unique past. 

At one time in history, stone babas dotted the horizon in Ukraine - standing as sentinels over mounded earth funeral structures.  From a time 5-6 thousand years ago, ancestral graves on the lands of Ukraine were marked with a limestone or sandstone slab, like the sentinels at Stonehenge.  The stone babas perhaps personified the deceased within the mounded grave, and standing to witness the sunrise, performed the same function for the souls of the dead as the pyramids in Egypt. 

With economic possibility came new technology, and after a time people started carving shoulders, heads and faces into the stones, the image of the person within.  Equipped with the tools of life, perhaps they indicated high status too. 

Do the stone babas reveal gender?  Not in all cases.  And because so much of Ukraine's archeological history is being re-assessed through contemporary thought, in a time of relative freedom, with increasingly more sensitive use of technology I would reserve judgement.  It is obvious that the material culture of the period would venerate the gift of ancestors.  It is also obvious that material affluence would indicate longevity.  Longevity would indicate women lived beyond their childbearing years, and would through their unique talents assist in the nurture, survival and education of children born to a younger woman. 

The ancient stone babas are authentic expressions of gratitude for some person's generosity of spirit in life.  I like to think that all the ancients, the ancestors, made a significant contribution to the world's cultural achievement.   From the very edge of archeological history,  here's a thank you for the BLESSINGS OF BABA.

Have a glance at this artcle about how the stone stelae are being appreciated as Art in Ukraine.

Amd here the Smithsonian is also reconsidering the role and value of women, beyond their child bearing years.
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