Beag + Mòr

ladies sexy peat

Patterning the land.

When setting out on my research trip to Lewis I didn’t have a definite plan of what I would do there and hardly looked at  a map or checked a weather forecast. I was interested in allowing the people I met direct my research and ideas.  Through conversation and observation, I  became very interested in the plant life on the moor and the small beautiful flowers  I came across.  This,combined with an interest in the social history,  has helped me develop ideas for the project.

I have been trying to find gaelic proverbs / sayings relating to  small things + big things .

Is moid rud a roinn   A thing is the bigger of being shared

Cha ‘n ‘eil ach moran eadar a bho ‘s a’ mheanbhchuileag   The cow is only a good deal bigger than the midge

Ge beag an t-ugh thig eun as   Though the egg be small, a bird will come out of it.

fabric black houses

I came across a postcard when visiting the black house in Lewis. The postcard is of three women all dressed in patterned pinnies. I then began to notice many different patterns in photos of women in Lewis in the 1940’s an 50s.  Many of the women who walked across the moor would have worn brightly patterned cloth and when looking at archive photos of women at the shielings, I noticed many were smartly dressed .

Shielings were also often papered with left over wallpaper  and curtains were made and brought to the shielings each year. It seems that pattern and colour was a big part of life on the Lewis moor .

The women were fond of brightly coloured garments, and for everyday use, would wear a polka, long sleeved blouse, with a cota, serge skirt, which hung a few inches below the knee. For special occasions, a hand knitted shawl might be worn over a best blouse ………

As early as 1833, cotton shirts and print gowns were beginning to supersede the home-made garments, especially in the town. Gay colours appealed to the Lewis women, and as brightly coloured garments increased in popularity , the early evangelical Island preachers became extremely concerned. The Rev. Alexander Macleod of Uig thought that it showed unduly frivolous minds, which endangered immortal souls as well as spending money unnecessarily

Lewis. A history of the island by Donald Macdonald


One thought on “Beag + Mòr

  1. I’ll ask my mother if she has anything to add. As English is not her mother tongue but learnt in school. She was brought up in Skye.

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