Sunday, June 15, 2014

STRANDLOPER


The name STRANDLOPER is an Afrikaans word meaning "beach walker". It is a term for San-derived people who lived by hunting and gathering along the sea shores of Southern Africa from prehistoric times until the second millennium AD. The term has been extended to refer to present day beach combers.


While we were on holiday in the eastern cape we came across many middens. One of them was particularly old and high. It formed a bank covered with grass but a landslide had ripped the bank open to reveal  layer upon layer of shells at eye level. I did a little research and came across this post about Strandloper middens.

"... these piles of shells are often thousands of years old, and represent the last signs left by the Strandloper people, who belonged to the larger communities of either San or the Khoikhoi.... "

"The women would find some place in the dunes that was protected from the wind, and transform it into the family kitchen. They would shuck the shells and often prepare the food here as well. Pottery shards found at the midden sites indicate items of Stone Age crockery." - Chris Marais


After our holiday  I was inspired to carve a Strandloper to remind me of the blissful days spent gathering pebbles and driftwood on wild beaches.

70 comments:

  1. I absolutely love your Strandloper and what a wonderful name for this piece. Is there a base for it to stand or would it be mounted on the wall? We had middens filled with shells in Florida which were made by Native Americans. Originally it was thought they migrated from South America but now it's believed that those peoples were older than the South American natives. I love learning about the ancient peoples; I'll check the link.

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    1. Linda, thank you...most of my pieces are mounted on the wall but some people do have stands made for them. It's such a wonderful feeling when one finds traces which connect us to ancient cultures.

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  2. What a great post, and once again I've learned something new: When I lived near Galveston, TX, the beach walk along the ocean was called "The Strand" - how interesting to see its linguistic links to Afrikaans and the Strandlopers!

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    1. Thanks Heather. Yes, strand means beach in Afrikaans.

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  3. Beautiful piece, she is so peaceful. Fascinating history. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks Lori. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  4. Oh Robyn, I think this is my favorite, had I the money I would buy it for sure. I am a strandloper and always will be :-). xoxo

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    1. Thanks so much Annie, I think there are a lot of us around..... all finding joy in gathering beach treasures.

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  5. A wonderful piece...and story.

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  6. connecting to your land, funny how beach combing is fun and sustenance.

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    1. On this same walk we passed the remains of little cooking fires and piles of muscle shells. The local fishermen gather muscles and catch fish which they cook for their lunch before catching more fish to take home for their family supper.

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  7. Stunning piece - and your story and history just reminds me that we truly are all one -- beachcombers in every language are all connected, but from now on I will be a StrandLoper!

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    1. Thank you Judy. It is such a peaceful pastime. No wonder we all love beach combing.

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  8. Love the name, sometimes we come across aboriginal middens no pottery as they didn't have any but sometimes grinding stones. Do love this carving.

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    1. Thanks Penny. I would love to find a grinding stone. I'll look harder next time.

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  9. Beautiful work with a lovely story to go with it.

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  10. She is fabulous. Interesting about the Strandlopers.

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    1. Thanks Lisa. She is a good reminder of a peaceful holiday.

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  11. The strandloper is beautiful, and I loved the story of these ancient people. How exciting it must have been to discover their shells!

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    1. I do enjoy discovering traces from the past. Thanks Sharmon.

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  12. Inspired is the key word here Robyn. I think all your work is inspired.

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    1. Thank you Weaver, the holiday was so refreshing, I had no option but to feel inspired.

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  13. Hi R - what a great story; and a very creative reminder. Love it. B

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    1. Indeed, it's a good feeling to create something that reminds me of peaceful walks in such a beautiful place..

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  15. This is really spectacular. I love your transformation of the story into this piece. Would also love to be able to see it in person

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  16. Hi Robyn - this is beautiful, wonderful, stunning! What a piece. I simply love this and I love the story and the connection through history…oh wow. I can feel you in this one really strongly...

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    1. Yes, I can feel myself in this piece too :-) So glad you are feeling it too. Thank you Fiona!

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  17. stunning! Thank you for sharing your adventure, how exciting making discoveries and then creating a piece from them! If it was in my budget to purchase a piece of your work I would in a second. Have a lovely day.

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    1. It's such a good feeling to create something out of an experience. Thank you so much, Susan.

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  18. yes, simply stunning work, Robyn... swoon worthy

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    1. I always enjoy a good swoon :-) Thanks Cat.

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  19. We have the word "strandløber" in Danish too, but in this instance it refers to birds, waders. It used also to be used about an official keeping eye on the beach, e.g. a customs controller. - It's a small world, mlise

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    1. It is indeed a small and interesting world .... we also refer to some birds (sand pipers) as strandlopers. A customs controller .... that's a new one :-)

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  20. She is wonderful, dreamy. Enjoyed the history too. A fresh catch open fire dinner under the stars. Was there a local home brew wine ? Sounds perfect.

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    1. Thanks M. Not sure about the home brew though it wouldn't surprise me :-)

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  21. Having just come back from vacation where I got to be by the sea this one really resonates with me. I picked up some driftwood while I was away and am hoping to make some kind of abstract sculpture with it.

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    1. Looking forward to seeing your sculpture Kathryn. Don't wait too long :-)

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  22. Beautiful work, Robyn! And I very much enjoyed hearing the inspiration behind it!

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    1. Thanks Ruth! The work flowed easily. It's amazing how a story inspires one.

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  23. I was so glad to learn something new from this post! You opened to me a small window, leading to ancient times and the signs and evidence we still (and thankfully!) can find about them... I like your Strandloper woman a lot!:)

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    1. Thank you so much Rossichka. Standing at the midden we could feel ancient people and history. Very inspiring!

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  24. Oh. Wow. WOW!!!
    A great piece.

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    1. I really appreciate the WOW! Don and Susan :-)

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  25. we have middens here too - they are protected places and kept sacred. or not so sacred as was the case of a midden found right in the middle of a spot a developer wanted to build 7 town houses!

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    1. oh no! I take it the 7 town houses have been built?

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  26. What a beautiful piece... built on your memories of your recent vacation trip. And aren't we all still hunters and gatherers :-)

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    1. Yes we are and what a wonderful way to unwind! There is nothing quite like wandering along a beach gathering bits and pieces to take home with us.

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  27. Guess I'm a strandloper, then!! This new piece is just gorgeous. I was thinking about her yesterday as I did a bit of low tide beach combing.

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    1. Thanks Annie. You would love our wild coast! We were lucky enough to return for another week so there will be another strandloper to add to my series soon.

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  28. Very wonderfull, simple but dreamy.

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  29. What a great story, Robyn, your husband sounds like quite the man! I love the blue fox, just beautiful...
    roxanne

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  30. Oh! I meant to leave this on your other post about the fox. Your beach walker is stunning too!!

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  31. I love your Strandloper, Robyn. Wow.

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  32. Missed this post earlier - better late than never -- love her!

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