Light as a Feather Stiff, as a Board

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The Secret Knots Gallery presents:

Light as a Feather Stiff, as a Board
New Works by Jess Hirsch
Join us for an opening party Saturday March 24th
from 9 pm - Midnight
We will have cheap beer & wine as well as music from Jamie Kinroy

At the height of London's final battle with the Bubonic plague, a naval administer witnessed the game Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. Samuel Pepys documented his observation in conversation with a friend. He recounted seeing four little girls lift a young boy who was laying flat on his back like corpse. As the tiny girls hoisted the boy, they chanted:

Here is a dead body
Stiff as a stick,
Cold as marble
Light as a spirit,
Lift yourself, in the name of Jesus Christ!

Pepys concluded the game was an attempt to ward off disease. The game continues to be played, but the chant has changed to the simple phrase, "light as a feather, stiff as a board." There are many hypotheses of how this phenomenon of levitation could be possible. Most argue it is perfect weight distribution that allows four people to lift one with the mere strength of a pinkie finger. Others believe it is the chanting that tricks the mind to believe the body is featherweight light. Some believe it is the ritual that allows the supernatural to occur. Regardless, the body levitates despite gravity. If you believe it to be true, it will be.

View more of Jess's work here.

3 Comments

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The lyrics of the song sang by the girls are really heartfelt and moving! Probably thats why such chanting have been thought to summon the supernatural occurrence! Pretty interesting post though! I will remember the short phrase too!
Kalista Joe

i really like Jess Hirsch works. Waiting for more

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