12 January 2015

"Fortunetelling at Christmastide"

 Mykola Kornylovych Pymonenko, Fortune-Telling on Christmastide. 1888

I found the image above in the Carpathian folk tumblr (where there are lots of interesting pix).  At the artist's Wikipedia entry I found that the painting is at the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg.

The young girls are shadowcasting by candlelight, holding something (a coin?) in the other hand.  Are any readers familiar with this custom and able to shed some light on the process or the history of it for us?

9 comments:

  1. they may be holding a piece of wax. melted wax would poured into water and the resulting shape would then be used to foretell the future. there are many such carpathian mountain traditions associated with christmas time. it is a magical time, and not just because of christmas.

    thanks for the tumblr link!

    I-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. btw, i had to enter the captcha code to get that published. make up your mind, blogspot! :-)

      I-)

      Delete
  2. I believe they are practicing molybdomancy, a form of "divination" using molten metal (typically lead or tin).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. a video of Bleigießen (i.e. molybdomancy. literally "lead pouring") as it is practiced today.

      I also found an English language list of interpretations.

      Delete
  3. first time i have heard of the term 'molybdomancy', but i like it!

    from what i know, in the carpathians, they use melted wax, beeswax to be specific. i have not heard of it being done with melted metal, but i will check.

    I-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. here is the wax method, which is what those girls would be doing.

    https://journals.ku.edu/index.php/folklorica/article/viewFile/3744/3583

    I-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. excellent link, anon. When I get a chance I'll update the post with the info from your link and the one provided by nolandda.

      Delete
  5. Divination by means of wax is called "carromancy."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carromancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks for that wiki link!

      :-) i was going to invent a word for the wax version of 'molybdomancy', but you did, and you created a wiki page for it as well! :-)

      I-)

      Delete

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