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Of the several fine photographs on rural Alabama in the archives of Auburn University, none illustrates better than this one the peculiar application of old but elaborate technology and plentiful cheap labor to the process of making hay. A mule-powered buck-rake pushes hay towards a bale-press, loaded and operated by five African American workers. What drives the press is invisible, off-stage left. It could be a steam engine, more mules, or even more men. Dwarfed by the operation which helps maintain her privileges, a small girl in a sunbonnet poses just left of center.
This scene in the Matanuska Valley, near Palmer, advertising the Rose Ridge bed and breakfast inn, nicely balances the sublime (Alaska's challenging wildness) and the picturesque (a comfortable summer hayfield which could be in almost any of the 48 contiguous states). Competing for the role of quintessential Alaskan image are the more than twenty haymaking photographs in the superbly indexed Alaska’s Digital Archive , many of them showing the astonishingly productive crops when the Matanuska region was first settled in the early years of the twentieth century.
Russell Lee was employed by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) to document agricultural conditions, problems and progress during the Great Depression and its aftermath. He travelled throughout the southern and western states and was particularly active in Arizona, where irrigation and harvesting progress had been particularly encouraging. This combined hay picker-upper and chopper was developed by members of the Casa Grande Valley Farms, Pinal County, Arizona, with the aid of Mr. Walton, FSA (Farm Security Administration) regional farm supervisor. After hay was chopped, it was loaded into a truck by the side of the chopper and then taken to the feed barns. Alfalfa, depending on irrigation water pumped from increasingly deep wells continues to be a major product of Arizona's rural economy. Government intervention and cooperative conservation are less evident than they were in Lee's time.
Russell Lee also documented the Lake Dick reclamation project in Arkansas, which produced vast quantities of soybean hay and several images for our database. But the scene selected is a painting from the decade before the Depression by Olin Herman Travis showing an Ozark forest scene interrupted by two cultural elements: a farmhouse and a conical haystack. The painting hangs in the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, part of a major collection of art and life in the South.
California hay is richly reflected in our collection, both in paintings (by William Hahn of the 19th century, Xavier Martinez, George Bellows, Phil Paradise, Charles Payzant, Wayne Thiebaud and several others) and photography ( Carleton Watkins, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, William Garnett). Many others by less well known artists are equally hard to resist, including several illustrating my own county of Santa Cruz, and paintings of haymaking in Santa Clara county when it was still rural, and a mural in the (where else?) Hayward post office. I also considered my own HAYNRT license-plate, overlaying a Thiebaud design or one of the dozens of photographs I’ve taken in many parts of the state over the past few decades. More perverse candidates were a series of scenes of hay being used to soak up the oil on the Santa Barbara beaches in 1969.
Finally, I settled on two images, both reflecting agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, both photographs but both made painterly in their reproduction or composition. The first is an intriguing postcard celebrating the gigantic productivity of the golden state. The enormous haystack is allegedly built from the seventh crop of the season near Fresno. It was mailed in Reedley in October 1907 inscribed with an intimate message which provides human counterpoint to the 25 foot high stack. The second is an aerial photograph which recalls the landscape abstractions of the Bay Area expressionist Richard Diebenkorn. The photographer, Charles Benton, a professor in the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley, uses KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) to discover unusual angles on the landscape. While literally a view from above of growing corn and stacked square bales near Farmington in the Central Valley, it epitomizes for me our state’s penchant for eccentric innovation and the ability to find beauty in the mundane geometry of modern agribusiness.
Most of Russell Lee’s documentary photographs for the FSA, including his impressive series on Colorado hay in 1940, were in black and white. This color image of a grand haystack and ladder and row of 1930s automobiles is exceptional. The color is brilliantly preserved, a durable contribution to the American Memory collection at the Library of Congress. Michael Lewis and Dean Conger also did fine color hay scenes in the sixties and nineties, especially of feeding cattle in the Colorado winter snow, but this unlikely car-park landscape is irresistible.
The rural scenery of Connecticut attracted the attention of many of the artists associated with the neighboring Hudson River Valley, and in the following century haymaking gradually declined as an important element in the landscape of that state. Forests invaded the former fields of the hilly areas and dormitory suburbs have occupied many of the coastal marshes. So, in our Connecticut hay collection, nineteenth century paintings outnumber twentieth century photographs and give us many fine images from which to choose: a naïve farm-scene by Francis Alexander, the sentimental Currier-and-Ives pastoralism of George Durrie, and the Luminism of Martin Johnson Heade, imitated less successfully by his contemporary Benjamin Coe. Equally tempting was a fine engraving from the 1930s of barns and a haystack by Thomas Nason. But since Barbara Novak selected this work by Frederick Church, also titled “Haying near New Haven” to illustrate her distinction between nature and culture, we must follow her lead and borrow her language: the haymakers “(set apart formally and symbolically by planar distinctions) maintain a distance from nature: this allows for a more purposeful activity within nature, diminishing transcendental unities in favor of what we might call a middle phase of reconciliation between man and nature.” [Nature and culture: American landscape and painting 1825-18-75. NY: Oxford University Press, 1980. p. 190.]
From the small state of Delaware, we have found only a couple of hay pictures, neither of them adequate to represent its admittedly less than dramatic scenery. One by Kevin Fleming, of an Amish woman operating a horse-rake, would be more characteristic of Pennsylvania. This one by Jon Cox shows a collection of expensive modern machinery creating and collecting bales and could have been taken in any highly capitalized agricultural landscape. But its interest lies in the context. It was used as a prominent illustration on the Delaware’s Agricultural Leadership Program website, focused on the following concerns: “the public image of agriculture; future loss of farmland; the impact of regulations on the future viability of agriculture; and the farming abilities of future generations.” All of these concerns are likely to pit traditional methods against mechanization.
Virtually no contemporary scenes of haymaking in Florida having been discovered, we are left with this fascinating engraving from the 1870s of a farmyard in St. Augustine. The complacent dog is given more prominence than any other element, but the haystack shows much of interest: a central stake, a tattered cloth cap, and edges which seemed to have been whittled down to feed the animals.
More famous for his nudes and equally nude-like still-lives and landscapes of the West, Edward Weston toured the South in 1941 and documented the rural landscapes crisply but without his usual flare for semi-abstraction. This straightforward view of the William H. Hunter farm, near Athens is notable in our context for the cluster of haystacks among the farm buildings.
All four of our Hawaiian hay images document the use of pili grass (Heteropogon contortus) to control erosion on the semi-arid island of Kahoolawe. Also known as spear or tanglehead grass, this tufted perennia has stems up to 120 cm high and long awns that are twisted together when mature. It is widely distributed and abundant in areas with less than 800 mm of annual rainfall and highly resistant to grass fires. It grows quickly and is valuable as fodder or hay until awns form, as these can injure the mouths and skin of stock. Good hay can be made if the grass is cut before it flowers. Here the bales are shown perpendicular to the drainage channels, encouraging growth to stabilize the vulnerable soil.
Look elsewhere for the many images which epitomize haymaking in Idaho, past and present. This one is also used to exemplify the difficult issue of artistic property. During the past few years the New York sculptor, Tom Otterness, who specializes in public artworks, has installed his giant "Makin' Hay" series, constructed of steel and cylindrical bales, in several scenic western hayfields. The first of these was made in Utica, Montana, home of the annual "What the hay" festival. Many photographers and tourists, passing Tom's installations, have captured them on film. Occasionally, as in this fine winter photograph by Otto Kitsinger, the secondary work does justice to and even amplifies the original. I, exploiting in turn the ultimately public nature of internet art, have expropriated the image to represent the state of Idaho and the complicated state of contemporary creativity. But anyone who has exerted just enough pressure on a camera button to expose film or digital card for a few hundredths of a second to create an image of windrow or stack or bale has appropriated the art of the haymaker.
Another Russell Lee photograph from the 1940s is entitled simply “Illinois” and therefore justifies its selection as the representative hay image of that state. It recalls Charles Sheeler's precisionist portrait of a white barn whose geometry is offset by the texture of the foreground hay. Lee's photograph has more hay, posing in a ramshackle wagon with metal wheels that captures both a place and a time of dearth-driven improvization. The diagonal shadow of the ladder, absent from Sheeler complicates the Lee aesthetic.
Half of the eight images discovered for Indiana are from WPA murals decorating public buildings and implying the importance of hay in the local economy. The one shown, by Marguerite Zorach, is in downtown Monticello. Although the background is mysterious (water-body? lake-shore?), the main elements include many of the most common conventions of the art of haymaking: a woman with a large rake; a muscular fellow turing the hay with a fork; another vigorously tossing hay onto a loaded, horse-drawn wagon; and a child resting in the hay-pile at right. Beyond in the distance is a field of haycocks. Anomalously, in the right foreground is a pen full of pigs.
Orland is a small but once-prosperous agricultural town in the rice-farming section of the Sacramento Valley in northern California. On Main Street is a cavernous coffee-shop, mostly for locals but occasionally discovered by travelers who stray from Interstate 5 on their way to or from Oregon. When I first saw this print on the coffee-shop wall, I assumed that it represented old California haymaking. But closer inspection showed the signature of Felix Summers, and a bit of research determined that he was a painter of the Iowa not western rural landscape. Some of the Iowa photographs of Arthur Rothstein in our collection depict very similar barns and hay hoists, as do the paintings of Franklin Halverson from the same state. I could have selected any of the three hay-related paintings of the more famous Grant Wood or photographs by Rothstein or Lange, but I like the serendipity of finding a bit of Iowan hay in Orland, CA.
This detail of John Steuart Curry’s Line Storm, the frantic passage of a mule-drawn hay wagon across a violent Kansas landscape, appears on the cover of Patricia Junker’s 1998 monograph John Steuart Curry: Inventing the Middle West. In Henry Adams' essay “Space, Weather, Myth, and Abstraction in the Art of John Steuart Curry,” (Junker, pp. 112-132), he calls this work “among the oddest paintings in American art, a piece that violates nearly every rule in of traditional composition.” Further “Curry seems to have been torn between producing a conventional landscape painting, filled with hackneyed motifs, and making something more mysterious and abstract.” But our site is a celebration of “hackneyed motifs,” and since the painting does depict a real place (the Heart Ranch in Barber County in the western part of the state, it demands to be used as the Kansas image, especially since the phrase “Inventing the Middle West” beautifully expresses our own interest in agricultural myth and the phenomenology of place.
Apart from Marion Post Wolcott's FSA photographs from the 1940s, there are surprisingly few images of Kentucky haymaking, given the continuing need in this quintessential horse-raising state for good quality fodder. I decided to use this contemporary scene of rolling hay country, from an unusually well illustrated real estate website advertising farms for sale in Bluegrass Country. Many of the other photographs on this site feature hayfields to promote the bucolic nature of this region which is claimed to be “one of the prettiest places on earth” (presumably until it’s sold.).
In another product of Edward Weston’s 1941 foray into the South (see also Georgia, above) hay spills out of the windows of a classical southern plantation building, a fine example of the pretentious adapted to the service of the humble. The other choices were a couple of mundane Marion Post Wolcott photographs and an anomalous Altoon Sultan painting of Baton Rouge hay bales. These bales are beautiful but more characteristic of her native Vermont.
Oxen appear in several Maine haymaking images, including some by the famous documentary photographer Lewis Hine. But few captions to these pictures are as precise and pedagogically useful as the one accompanying an anonymous mowing scene from 1911 on the Maine Preservation website . While intended as a study guide for school-children, it perfectly elucidates for adults the time, place and activity. “From 1829 to 1860 more progress was made in the development of labor-saving devices for the farmer than in all of previous history. One of the most appreciated by Maine farmers was the invention of the mowing machine. It was a long time before these became commonplace on Maine's farms, but by the early 1880s most farmers had put down their scythes and were using mowing machines. You'll realize how welcome the mowing machine was if you imagine yourself standing in the middle of a big field, with the sun beating down on you, a big, heavy scythe in your hand, and tall grass all around you as far as you can see. In this photo, taken August 14, 1911, the mowing machine is being pulled by a team of young Holstein oxen. They are mowing ‘swale hay’ on soft ground. Oxen are better than horses for this kind of job. Horses tend to crowd and lunge on soft ground. Oxen move more slowly. Another reason for using oxen in boggy places is the shape of their hooves. Have you ever seen a cow's and a horse's hoofprints? Oxen, like cows, moose and deer, have ‘cloven,’ or split hooves, so they create less suction than a horse's hoof does when it is pulled out of the muddy earth. Even oxen sometimes had to wear strapped-on wooden mud shoes - rather like snowshoes - on very soft ground. If you look really close, you can see wire baskets over the oxen's noses. These are supposed to help the oxen stay focused on their work.”
Neither a craftily composed hay barn interior by Jack Delano nor a portrait of a truculent Whitaker Chambers toting a bale of hay has a significant view of the countryside, although both were taken in Maryland. However Paul Souders’ photograph of Antietam National Battlefield shows a field of healing hay growing over the “Bloody Cornfield” where more than 23,000 Confederate and Union soldiers were killed, wounded or missing as a result of the battle. Without this buried information, the gently rolling landscape of farms and fields and silos is as peaceful as it may have been before Robert E. Lee and his army invaded the area in September, 1862.
About half of our Massachusetts hay collection is the work of a single artist. But he, Heade, deserves and has already been the subject of a separate essay. More than a dozen more images come from Heade’s followers and imitators, or other lovers of the salt marsh hay, including our hay mate John Hutchinson who also has his own section on our site. The marsh hay prints of Arthur Wesley Dow are particularly tempting, but we’ve turned from them to the dynamic regionalism of Thomas Hart Benton and a painting of haymaking on Martha’s Vineyard near Chilmark. While the scenery here is specifically recognizable to the islanders, those less familiar with the place have no sense that this is an island scene. But the spire, the farmstead, the stone-walls, the small fields, interspersed with the woodland that increasingly invades them are quintessentially New England; and the small, almost melting, haycocks, the wagon drawn by a drooping horse, and the vigorous farmer with fork, are all familiar parts of Benton’s rural vocabulary.
Corbis has over 100 photographs by David Turnley documenting the lives of Flander and Anna Hamlin on their subsistence farm, near Detroit. In 1979 Flander was 80, Anna 78 and they had been married for 55 years. A few of the photographs document their semi-mechanized haying operation: tractor-run mower and small wagon; and both loose hay and square bales. Here, Flander forks hay onto a small cart, pulled by a tractor which still has the mower attached to it. A quarter-century later, with the passing of families like the Hamlins, subsistence farms are even less typical in the Michigander landscape.
Thanks to the well-indexed, excellent collection of the Minnesota Historical Society, more than a century of haymaking in that state is very well represented by over a century of images, more than a dozen of them by Harry Darius Ayer who documented the farm country about a hundred years ago. One of the earliest images, from about 1880, photographer unknown, is shown here. It illustrates the rich productivity of the prairie hayfields, the enormity of the haystacks and the engineering ingenuity of the Minnesotan haymakers. David Assen, rancher turned accountant turned hay historian, would categorize this contraption as a “double-A-frame-hoist-with-portable-boom.” There are also many fine illustrations in Steven Hoffbeck)’s elegaic account of haymaking on his family’s southwest Minnesota farm, before first his father, then his brother Larry were killed in agricultural accidents that ended the Hoffbecks’ tenure and their farming tradition.
The American Memory project of the Library of Congress includes a fine collection of photographs by Marion Wolcott Post, depicting poor Southern farmers in 1939, and the positive effect of New Deal programs. One series focuses on the old Marcella Plantation in the Mississippi Delta, where African Americans added cheap labor to such antiquated machinery as the fixed baler shown here. A more recent image ( Robin Nelson, 2004), not shown here documents the continued plight of black farmers in Mississippi who “expected to benefit from the landmark 1999 class-action settlement with the United States Department of Agriculture, which acknowledged decades of ‘indifference and blatant discrimination’ against blacks in the department's lending programs. When the settlement was approved, it was hailed as the biggest civil rights award in United States history, estimating that $2 billion would be paid out to black farmers. Thousands of claims have been denied for a many reasons: tight deadlines, late submissions, lawyers' mishandling and most significantly the resistance of the Agriculture Department. Critics say the department used technicalities to deny farmers a hard-won remedy.” [Corbis]
Among the handful of images of Missouri hay, half (ID 3531-3534) comprise a series illustrating the use of an old baler to make small round bales at the Herbal Maid Fiber Farm, Rosebud, MO. The small bales are easy to use in feeding the farms flock of rare goats and sheep. Just as this specialized breeding represents entrepreneurial agriculture in the face of economic challenges, the improvisational technology is equally ingenious. But the selected image, “No more mowing” by John deMartelly, is another product of New Deal art projects, regional in its background, sexy in its central image, and contributing to the old genre of models reclining langorously in the hay.
With over 170 hay images from which to choose, including products of my annual drives to visit a relative-owned ranch, playful hay sculptures from the nearby " What the Hay Festival,” and historic and contemporary pictures of the “ Land of Ten Thousand Haystacks” in the Big Hole beneath the Bitterroots, Montana seems to be the Big-Hay-Under-The-Big-Sky State. Among the several Montana painters who have incorporated the hay theme into their work, reflecting both its importance in the local economy and its commercial appeal to outsiders, few are as witty as the Missoula artist, Monte Dolack. Several of his posters for an annual music festival include surreal adaptations of hay landscapes. The image I’ve chosen is even more playful. Monte told us that he once planned to turn this concept into a monumental project, Egyptian-scale pyramids made of rectilinear bales. This digital reproduction of a postcard hardly does justice to that ambition but, with the complacent foreground bovines remind us that unlike the ancient desert mausoleums, these pyramids are useful and ephemeral. And Monte’s title “Points of interest” perfectly conforms to the theme of this gazetteer.
English 1.hay 2.haystack, rick 3.haycock, cob 4.haymaking 5.fork 6.rake 7.scythe 8.to mow 9.to ted 10.haywagon, cart
German 1.Heu 2.Heuhafen 3.Heuschober 4.Heuernte 5.Heugabel 6.Harke 7.Sense 8.mahen 9.zum trocknen ausbreiten 10.fuhrwerk, wagen
Dutch 1.hooi 2.hooiberg 3.hooiopper 4.hooibouw, hooien 5.gaffel 6.hark, riek 7.zeis 8.maaien 9.uitspreiden en keren 10.wagen
Swedish 1.ho 2.hostack 5.hogaffel, hotjuga 6.rafsa, kratta 7.lie 8.sla 10.vagn
Norwegian 1.hoy 2.hoystakk 3.hoysate 5.hoygaffel 6.hoyrive 7.lja 8.sla 10.vogn
Danish 1.ho 2.hostak 3.hobunke 4.hoberedning 5.hotyv 6.horive 7.le 8.meje 9.vejre 10.vogn
Icelandic 1.hey taoa 2.heystakkur 3.heystakkur 5.heykvisl, forkur 6.flagari, svallari 7.orf of ljar 8.heyslattur, sla
Erse 1.fear 2.cruach 3.coca 4.tuaradh 5.pice 6.raca 7.speal 8.bainim 9.croathim 10.vaigin
Latin 1.fenum, foenum 2.feni meta, foeni acervus 3.foeni acervus 4.feni secia 5.furca 6.rastellus 7.falx 8.secare, demetere 10.plaustrum, carrus
French 1.foin 2.meule de foin 3.meule de foin 4.fenaison 5.fourche 6.rateau 7.faux 8.faucher 9.faner 10.chariot, charrette
Italian 1.fieno 2.mucchio 3.mucchio 4.fienagione, falciatura 5.forca 6.rastrello 7.falce 8.falciare 9.spandere 10.furgone, carro
Spanish 1.heno 2.almiar 3.monton de heno 4.siega del heno 5.bieldo 6.rastrillo 7.guadana 8.segar, cortar 9.henificar 10.carro
Portuguese 1.feno, forragem 2.meda, pilha, monte de feno 3.meda de feno 4.sega do feno 5.forcado 6.ancinho, rodo 7.segadeira, foice 8.ceifar, segar 9.fazer carreiras do feno 10.carrocao
Romanian 1.fin 2.bugla, capita 3.purcoi, capita 5.furca 6.grebla 7.coasa 10. caruta
Catalan 1.palla, fenc 2.paller 3.paller 4.sega del fenc 5.forca 6.rasclet 7.dalla 8.segar, tallar 10.carro
Serbo-Croatian 1.sijeno 4.kosnja sijena 5.vile 6.drvene grablje 7.kosa 10.kola
Slovak 1.seno 2.stoh, kopa 5.uidlika, rozcestie 6.hrable 7.kosa 8.kosit 9.rozhadzovat 10.voz, vagon
Hungarian 1.szena 2.szenakazal 3.szenaboglya, szenapetrence 4.szenz, kaszalasa 5.szenavilla 6.gereblye 6.sarlo kasza 7.kaszal 8.kiterit 10.szenasszeker
Finnish 1.heina 2.haeinahaasia 3.heinasuova 4.heinanteko 5.heinahanko 6.heinaharava 7.viikate 8.niittaa 9.levitella kuivuhaan 10.vankkurit
Basque 1.elbitz, lasto, belar 2.belarheta 5.urka 6.are, eskuare 7.sega 8.belarra ebaki 10.furgoi, bagoi
Polish 1.siano 2.stog siana 3.kopa siana 4.sianokosy 5.widelec 6.grabie 7.kosa 8.kosie 9.suszycs 10.fura, woz
Scotland Serbia Slovakia Slovenia Somalia South Africa South Korea Spain Sudan Sweden Switzerland Syria Taiwan Tajikistan Thailand Tibet Togo Turkey Ukraine United States Vietnam Wales Yugoslavia Zambia
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.
Laos Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Macedonia Madagascar Malta Mexico Moldova Mongolia Morocco Myanmar Nepal Netherlands New Zealand Niger Northern Ireland Norway Pakistan Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Reunion Romania Russia
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.
In a peculiar infrared-like image, men and women walk through a “hayfield” (possibly a rice-field) near Louangnamtha, Laos.
One of my friendly hay scouts, Liene Cernova went home from Philadelphia to the family farm in Latvia in the Summer of 2004, and promised me some pictures of traditional haymaking. Alas, a wetter than usual spring postponed the hay season, but she was kind enough to photograph the racks that will eventually help the hay to dry. You can see her empty racks at ID 2667 and 2668. The photo shown here, taken a couple of years earlier by John and Karen Warr, is of similar racks full of hay.
A man forks hay onto staked haycocks near Vaduz, Liechtenstein. The cocks are similar in form to many of those documented by Sotriffer in nearby Austria.
Desperate as we are for Lithuanian hay and dedicated as we are to the creation of books in any form, we are including this 1986 sculpture by the Lithuanian artist Ruta Konik-Saliklien. Her “natural book” is constructed from many fibers, among them paper, pumpkin, silk, canvas, and of course hay.
This charming children’s book illustration was emailed to me by a friend, who knew nothing of its creator, source or date. Since the only other Macedonian hay picture, a photograph of two women carrying huge burdens, is similarly elusive, we’ll use the “little Macedonian hay carter” dressed in a costume typical of the Ottoman Balkans for hundreds of years.
Of the three hay images from Madagascar, two document its use as a fuel in the traditional brick-making industry (ID 4187, 4188). The third, used here, shows the laborious way that Africans, without wheels or draft animals, transport their hay.
Paul Almasy’s photograph reflects the seasonally arid, Mediterranean climate of the island nation of Malta: a haystack (or possibly a stack of sheaves) standing in a dry field bounded by a cactus hedge.
Two fine photographs by Lola Alvarez Bravo are in our database. One shows workers dragging hay to the top of an enormous ramped haystack (ID 1423). But here is a more modern technology, bales transported by truck, and a variant on the age-old genre of haymakers at rest.
The Moldovan artist Anatol Lezarov has contributed two mixed media haystacks to the web. In both the elements are simplified but recognizable. Each has the classical domed shape of loose hay piled around a stake, one symmetrically composed around a ladder (ID 2979), the other, shown here, ringed by a fence and capped by cloth to protect it respectively against animals and the elements. The form is characteristic of the traditional stacks of Europe and is still common in neighboring Romania and Ukraine today. The art is certainly Moldovan; perhaps the hay is too.
The arid climate of the Sahel require every bit of vegetation not scoured by goats, sheep and camels, to be harvested as forage. The hay burdens of these women are so large that they almost conceal their carriers. Jim Strader’s useful photographs from his trek in Morocco’s High Atlas range are typical of the way tourism documents traditional ways of life even as it transforms them.
Ludovic Maisant’s photograph of an ox-cart loaded with some plant material, probably rice, but captioned “hay” in Corbis, could have been located under Pagan, Burma, before the toponymy was altered by orthography and politics. The mode of transportation is, however, as timeless as the temples in the background.
Our Dutch images run the art historical gamut: medieval Books of Hours, the allegorical extravaganzas of Bosch; the greatest of all hay paintings (probably depicting, however, a northern Italian landscape transformed by Bruegel’s imagination and memory); the seventeenth century rural landscapes of Rubens, Wildens, Rembrandt, Ruisdael, Avercamp, and van Goyen; nineteenth century canal and coastal scenes; early twentieth century hayricks by that master of geometrical abstraction, Piet Mondrian; fauve stacks by Vlaminck and Altinck; and dozens of less well-known hay painters, sent to me by Wim Lanphen whose own website on traditional hay-sheds is even more obsessively thorough than my own. I’ve settled on one of the Mondrian hayrick series, more because modernism is underrepresented in our gazetteer than because it epitomizes a landscape or architecture peculiarly Dutch.
Their ubiquity and low cost has long made hay (and straw) a convenient packing material for traditional modes of transportation. Even in the vegetation-poor regions of the southern Sahara, where camels are the beast of burden, trade-goods are wrapped this way. This image, taken in 1999 by Michael Lewis, shows two men, dressed in the practical desert robes of the Touareg, making bales. The Corbis caption “hay for salt trading” is intriguing but ambiguous. Is the hay to be used to trade for salt, or to pack it?
Northern Ireland has no National Parks. This image of haystacks (possibly grain-stooks) in the Mourne Mountains south of Belfast is the first illustration found on the official website promoting such a park. As is typical of such British reserves, landscapes of of outstanding 'natural' beauty tend to include scenes of traditional farming.
The most important contributors to the Norwegian haymaking collection are the nineteenth century landscape painter Johan Dahl, the early twentieth-century stereographer George Lewis, and the contemporary photographers Almasy and Alamany. They have all depicted the dramatic scenery of the fjords with hay drying on distinctive racks in the foreground. The image shown is geographically distinctive only in the faintly Scandinavian dress-style of the scyther, but it is clearly characteristic of the painterly style of Norway’s most famous twentieth century artist, Edvard Munch.
The precise location is not given in the Corbis caption, but the slope beyond the buildings is so heavily forested that this must be a high mountain range. Placing stacks of straw or hay on the rooftops not only keeps this precious fodder from the animals that will need them when the snow falls, but also helps to insulate the dwellings against the elements.
Paolo Ragazzini and/or Corbis use “hay” in the loosest sense of the word. If reeds are a variety of grass, then this harvest of reeds, drying on the shores of Lake Titicaca might legitimately qualify for this gazetteer. Reeds, as integral to the culture of the Puno of southern Peru as they once were to that of the marsh Arabs of southern Iraq, are used to make boats like those in the background.
Ferdinand Amorsolo y Cueta painted this lively scene in 1961. Whatever the pile of material in the right foreground, hay or rice-straw, in which the chickens are foraging, the human activity and the architecture are irresistibly typical of the rural Philippines. The Allison Gallery, which offered this work for $25,000, had the following finely detailed description: “The painting's subject is very popular and has a series of variations, with some changes in the figures or titles. In this work, the family is going to town to attend church. Nipa huts are on the right; a mango tree and bamboo are on the left. Gourds are growing from the vines on the arbor. The trees and the hay are softly textures, and the color contrasts are quite dramatic. The yellow umbrella provides a charming focal point.”
Raymond Gehman contributed to Corbis a splendid collection of haymaking scenes from near Babia Goria, Poland, in 1993. Less picturesque than some of his images, the one shown here is vividly descriptive of cultural and economic change. The tractor and mechanical tedder in the background suggest that the local hay technology is in transition. But women still use rakes to turn the loose hay and stack it on the arched racks. Notice the stork between the women and the tractor. A vivid description of traditional haymaking in Poland may be found in the annotation to ID 3066, a fine woodcut by the Polish-American artist Vasyl Madzelan.
Discovered by the Irish “long rider” Steven O’Connor on one of his horse-back treks, these haycocks are a fabulous geographic anomaly. While tall, staked cocks still survive in the Austrian Tyrol, none as skinny as these have been encountered elsewhere. Also of interest here are the coppiced trees, closer to the haycocks than they would be in other regions.
Chris Hellier’s photograph shows preparations for a Hindu religious ceremony on the island of Reunion. Reunion in the middle of the Indian Ocean was first settled by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century but has been a French colony for most of the past three hundred years. As the image implies, the island serves as a stepping stone for South Asian culture en route to Africa, but has also been settled by African and Chinese emigrants.
The oldest image of hay in the hay in art database is both Roman and Romanian, but those two thousand year old Dacian haystacks on Trajan’s column are the subject of an earlier essay. Several photographers have been enthralled by the ancient haymaking methods of northern Romania, among them Barry Lewis, Adam Woolfitt, David Turnley, and dozens of amateur tourists. Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin is easily the most dedicated, having spent an entire year among the farmers of the Maramures region documenting their work and lives and especially their haying technology (see ID 2131 to 2161). This superb image of a young man forking hay from one stack of hay to another (or perhaps to a load on an unseen wagon) is one of dozens taken by McLaughlin in 1999 and 2000 as part of a project entitled “The Color of Hay.” Few are as much about hay as is the one in which the boy is suspended between the crisply textured hay and the storm clouds. The blur at the end of his fork conveys the energy of his activity. McLaughlin's caption is as elementally poetic as the image: “The quality of a haystack can be told by its color. The quality of a man by the time it takes him to bring one home.” (“Calitatea unei capite se vede dupa culoarea ei. Calitatea unui barbat dupa timpul cat ii ia sa o aduca acasa.”)
I cannot resist using another of Kathleen’s fine images to illustrate the hayscape of Maramures and her eye for color (the color of hay).
Russia is one of only a handful of countries having more than one hundred hay images to their credit. Even more striking is the extent to which this gallery is dominated by painters rather than photographers. And the collection runs the gamut of styles from nineteenth and twentieth century social realism (Venetsianov, Pimonenko, Plastov, Mylnikov, Vasilev, Fomin), to the dream-like visions of Levitan, the abstraction of Malevich, Basmanov and Goncharova, and the recent, popular commercialism for the international market. Among the more remarkable photographic series in our entire hay in art database is the huge collection in the Library of Congress by Prokudin-Gorskii, who documented life in Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution (ID 3091-3105). Many of this magnificent set are hand-colored; all have been made freely available on the web. Somewhat arbitrarily, my selection for Russia is an image which does not represent the Russian rural landscape nearly as literally as do the social realist paintings. But the geometrical abstraction of Malevich does reflect a traditional theme mediated by a modernist vision, before it was suppressed by the heavy hand of Stalinist orthodoxy.