Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Greenland 1967 - The Diver and The Raven

The goal of the storyteller has always been to captivate the minds of his audience, enabling them to transcend the rigors of everyday life and, for a time at least, exist in a magical world. The goal of the teller of folktales in Greenland includes a slight twist to the norm - to put his audience to sleep! In fact, the best story tellers would commence their narrative with a line such as, "no one has ever heard this story to the end." This idea seems counter-productive, but the primary aim of the Greenlandic storyteller was to help people survive through the long, cold winter nights. And what better way to survive then to be snuggled up by the fire, asleep.

The folktales of Greenland cover a wide and varied range of topics. Indeed, only a few weeks ago I studied a stamp engraved by Czeslaw Slania, featuring the tale The Boy and the Fox. This week it's time for another folktale brought to life on stamp by Slania. the title of this tale is The Great Northern Diver and the Raven.

Unfortunately, try as I might, I have not been able to find anything on this folktale. What I can tell you is a bit about the Great Northern Diver or Common Loon. Divers spend their summers in areas such as U.K., Iceland, Greenland, North America. In the winter they migrate to the coastlines of south North America, Europe, and north-west Africa. One interesting little factoid about the Diver is its incredible ability to - well - dive! Amazingly, this bird can dive as deep as 60 metres per dive! And they can remain underwater for up to 3 minutes at a time. They have red in their eyes, which apparently helps them to see underwater.


On 23 November 1967, Greenland issued a stamp featuring The Great Northern Diver and the Raven as part of their folktale series which began on 5 February 1957 with The Mother and the Sea. This lovely stamp, engraved by Czeslaw Slania and designed by J. Rosing, depicts a Diver with a raven standing upon its back. If I'd been able to find the details of the story, it would be clear what the raven is doing. And is that a pool of blood to the bottom left beneath the Diver? A mystery! If anyone out there knows this story, I'd love to hear from you. Anywho, let's look at the stamp.

Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Nice write up.
    Beautiful engraving by "The Master if Engravers"
    Thanks Matt