Friday, July 3, 2009

Stripes, Poles and Axis

Dublin sweltered in unaccustomed heat today and the centre was quite airless. Travellers, forced to carry their coats and jackets, struggled a bit. This interesting corner lies off a passageway from Dame Street which leads directly to the Stag's Head pub. I liked the combination of stripes here which is why I took the photograph. Barber's stripes of course, date from the days of the blood-letting barber surgeons. The bloodied sheets would be hung on a pole outside and this later gave way to the barber's pole. The pole was painted so that it looked as if the blood was draining downwards. At a later stage blue was added, but there is some controversy over the exact reason for this. Some hold that it is to distinguish between barbers (red) and surgeons (blue) - others that blue represents arterial blood. So in the image we have the added blue at the side. A pole is a fixed point around which the world shifts - the hub or centre if you like, so the barber's pole is really an Axis - and the World Axis was sometimes depicted by the Celts as a column. There! I've come the full circle.