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The number following the place-name is the total number of hay images for that place in the database. Click on the number to see them all.
The slightly mis-named Museum of "English" Rural Life (in Reading, UK) actually has a wealth of visual and archival resources from all over the United Kingdom, including this image by an unknown photographer, taken in 1951 near Glenlochay in the highlands of Scotland. It is ideal for our purposes, because its background suggests the dramatic topography and changeable weather of the region, and the foreground crisply documents a traditional, local way of drying hay. While the outside of the haycocks (or cobs) is similar in form to those of many countries and centuries, the arch (or perhaps tripod) of short poles is unusual. Presumably it provides a foundation to allow the cobs to be built higher and still retain their stability.
There are several signs of transitional haying technology in this image. The haystacks around a stake are obviously Balkan and traditional, as are the bundles of twigs leaned against them for protection against unfenced animals. The cutting blades of an old mowing-machine, possibly once horse drawn, stand up just to the left of the tractor.
Johann Klein’s nineteenth century etching shows two Slovakians, with their horses feeding from a basket, standing in front of a haystack, from which branches protrude. It is unclear whether Slovakian hay was built onto a tree, or whether the branches are used to help stabilize it.
The Austrian art historian Kristian Sotriffer found several hay artifacts in neighboring Slovenia to support his hypothesis that haymaking is a legitimate expression of vernacular art. These two styles of haystack stand side-by-side near Pazin. The one on the right is what Sotriffer calls a “kegel.” The one on the left is a fascinating relative of the four-poled, adjustable hay-shed taken from Holland to New York State in the 17th century. This version has a fine thatched roof.
Abstraction and ambiguity abound in this 1980 photograph by Michael Yamashita of “haystacks and cattle.” The cattle are obvious, and their need for fodder in a semi-arid climate is equally clear. But the aerial perspective on domes of material disguises the difference between hut and haystack. Even the primitive walls of poles around some of the mounds might be protecting either house or hay.
Scott Robertson's panorama of round bales in a large field in the Overberg reveals little which is regionally distinctive and reflects the extent to which this style of haymaking has spread throughout the world.
Another curious Corbis caption provokes more questions than it answers. Wally McNamee’s 1952 photograph appears to show two Korean women in traditional costume winnowing grain through handmade rakes. The caption “preparing hay for the oxen” is at once vague and specific. One wonders how exactly “hay” is “prepared.”
In northeastern Spain, Basque dairy farmers often leave the cows in the barn and cut and bring the grass or hay to them. This scene was common thirty years ago. The same horse-drawn cart which will carry the freshly cut grass brings manure out to the fields to fertilize them. Perhaps because the fields are not directly grazed, the meadows in this relatively moist region north of the Picos de Europa are particularly rich in spring flowers.
Our solitary image of Sudanese hay is as vague and imperfect as our current knowledge of that tortured country. The woman with the donkey appears to have gathered two kinds of fuel, one perhaps for fodder.
MacDuff Everton’s photograph captures the vigor with which an Orust Islander is tossing hay onto wire strung between stakes. The uncertain weather of Scandinavia has led to the adoption of many ingenious drying methods which minimize the contact between the hay and the damp ground.
Given the precise location, the lack of even an approximate date limits our confident commentary on this exquisite image. The use of cloth bundles to compact and contain the loose Alpine meadow hay is a common strategy before the invention of the baler, and, where the topography is inhospitable to tractor-drawn or even horse-drawn machinery, is still used today. The style of the hand-tinted postcard hints at an early twentieth century date. The scenery is magnificently Swiss.
Kurt-Michael Westermann’s late twentieth century photograph of a Syrian woman carrying grass to feed the animals is as timeless as the Bible. The fodder on her back appears not yet to be hay, but the desert climate may well convert it before it reaches the animals for which it is intended.
Jenju is a village in Taiwan that specializes in making works of art from hay and straw. This haystack painted with the face of a god is an example of the community's work. The other two images in the modest Taiwanese hay collection (ID 1456-1457) were taken in the 1950s by the documentary photographer Horace Bristol.
Peter Flindell’s trio of recent pictures of Tajikistan depict a rugged Himalayan landscape in which haymaking is evidently an important element. The village scene shown here is typical. Cattle are grazing on the thin fodder on one side of a fast mountain stream. On the opposite bank the settlement of houses and haystacks slopes down steeply to the river.
Corbis speculates that the locale of this intriguing scene was Thailand. The shape of the haystack is remarkable in its resemblance to the profile of the Buddhist stupas of Southeast Asia. Disconcertingly, it also similar to the stack assigned to Taiwan (ID 1457). The child's run across the hay-strewn yard seems more fearful than playful. Horace Bristol’s focus in this photograph is on the startled, running girl. Our focus falls on the vivid background architecture, especially the dome and spire of the particularly beautiful stack of hay or, more likely, rice-straw.
Nomadic Tibetans load bundles of hay onto their yaks at an annual gathering documented in a fascinating report by Goldstein and Beall , from which images ID 4255-4259 and their accompanying annotations have been borrowed. In the background are a few of the hundred or so tents raised in this ungrazed pasture, once a year in September. Our generalization that hay is usually cut with scythes not sickles is subverted by the practice observed here. Grass protected from grazing grows to about one-and-a-half feet tall. Its regular height resembles a grain field, and like cereal crops it is gathered in bundles which are then twisted tightly into dense coils like those being loaded on the yaks in the picture. The hay is later fed to horses during seasons of shortage. The temporary village for hay-cutting is a site of both trade and festivity.
The database has a few images (ID 4260-4262) by Lucille Reyboz documenting the fonio harvest of Koufitougou, Pays Tamberma, Togo. The main end product is an important cereal grain, but after the grain has been trampled out and winnowed, stacks of the remaining straw or hay are conserved for fodder. For children all over the world such stacks become magical playgrounds for the young.
Nik Wheeler’s fine photograph from near Erzurum in eastern Turkey, vividly depicts the relationship between hay and vernacular architecture. The flat roof which is common to several house-types on the desert fringes of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia serves as a useful platform for stacks of hay or other harvests. Out of the reach of browsing animals, wild and domestic, the plant material also serves as an informal, temporary thatch to increase the thermal insulation of the dwelling. The production of hay in the Erzurum region is significant. A useful FAO report notes that the fodder crops lucerne and sainfoin have been grown in this part of Turkey for centuries - possibly even millennia. “The different parts of the hay meadows, chayir, are almost invariably controlled by individual families as far as the right to make hay is concerned. There are, however, times of the year when the chayir is open to be grazed by all the village stock and not exclusively to those who have the hay rights.”
Haymaking on either side of the mountain border between Romania and the Ukraine is quite similar in style. But its depiction in our database is strikingly different. Since northern Romania has been recently hospitable to photographers and tourists, photographic imagery dominates our virtual collection. But more than half of the dozen Ukrainian haymaking images are painted. Many artists in the former Soviet Union have discovered the value of the internet in marketing their works. And several of them, including Geyko, Petrov, Gayevoy, Maksimchuk and Fomin have capitalized on the appeal of traditional rural themes expressed in popular styles. Shlykov’s amusing variation on the familiar themes of rest and romance in the haycock is a refreshing exception from this parade of neoimpressionists.
Even limiting our US selection to the roughly 500 images for which the individual state is unspecified does not simplify the task very much. We have pictures of haymaking in virtually every medium from the colonial period to the present, many of them regionally and historically distinctive. Restricting our choice to an important American painter narrows the field a little, but whom should we choose from among Mount, Cropsey, Bullard, Cole, Currier, Durrie, Heade (easily our most prolific hay painter), Inness, Johnson, Homer, Tryon, Twachtman, Remington, Rice, Dow, Bellows, Ryder, Hassam, Benton, Curry, Dove, Grandma Moses, Dixon, DeMartelly, Schreiber, Haskell, Nason, Lichtenstein, Thiebaud, two Wyeths (Andrew and Jamie), Tansey, Sultan, Pollock? Or from our list of equally famous photographers, among them Hine, Lange, Adams, two Westons (Edward and Brett), Garnett, or Plowden? Should we pick from the dozens of less well-known popular gallery artists, especially of the Rocky Mountain West and Southwest? Or perhaps one of several New Yorker cartoons, including a few covers? Or one of the scores of popular postcards from the early twentieth century? Since many of the most archetypal images, including several by our most famous artists, are regionally specific, I have decided to reserve them for the section on individual states. The artist I have chosen is firmly rooted in a region, the American West, but the works of Gary Ernest Smith have an epic quality which defies parochial categorization, while powerfully capturing the spirit of our theme. His “solitary man of the field” like Grant Wood’s more famous husband in “American Gothic” (classed under Iowa) holds a four-tined pitchfork. The low horizon into which the mound of hay dissolves and the faceless head give the character a monumental quality, similar to several other Smith paintings in the database, e.g., ID 1110.
One of the most powerful photographs in the entire database is a Mekong Delta haystack by Tim Page (ID 1635). It shows the partially concealed body of a Viet Cong guerilla surrounded by a group of “counter-insurgency” soldiers who have just killed him. Since that civil war and its successful insurgency ended over thirty years ago, long replaced by too many other counter-insurgencies, I have selected a more peacefully bucolic image, by the Vietnamese photographer Q. T. Luong to represent modern, unified, tourist-attractive Vietnam.
Labor-intensive haymaking in late nineteenth century Wales is epitomized by this remarkable photograph by John Thomas in the fine web collection on Welsh cultural history poetically entitled “Gathering the Jewels.” There are over one hundred people in this group portrait, both genders, all ages. Apart from the panoramic painting of the countryside near Dixton Manor, no other image in our database has this many hay workers in a single frame. For a more contemporary view of Welsh haymaking and the substitution of technology for labor, please see the pictorial essay elsewhere on this site, “From Wales to Wisdom.”
The Croatian photojournalist Bandic Darko documented the final disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. Here, in an incongruous clash of military hardware and soft, rural scenery, a tank, tucked into a group of peaceful haystacks is also half-concealed by bundles of corn. The form of these haystacks near Devet Jugovica is similar to those found on both sides of the Alps and in the Carpathians.
The last image in our A to Z of hay countries is anomalous. As we have noted earlier, hay is not common in tropical Africa. And mechanized, baled hay, like the stack shown here at right, is still uncommon in many third world countries. The Zambia College of Agriculture is obviously ahead of its time and place and consequently is indistinguishable from a ranch in the contemporary West.