The original scarecrows were nothing like the now familiar straw-stuffed icon of Halloween. Scarecrows, sometimes bearing an animal skull or even rotting produce, were placed in fields in the spring and were burned after the Autumn harvest in celebration, their ashes returning nutrients of potassium and nitrogen to the soil.
Through the ages farmers have fashioned the often maudlin-looking figure to reflect images of the occult, of customs, culture, mythology, superstitions or religion. To a farmer they may simply be a symbol of the death and resurrection of the crops.
A definitive history of the scarecrow has never been penned. What is known is that among the first field “gods” were Japanese “kakashi”, a deity of knowledge and agriculture such as Kuebiko who is unable walk and therefore simply stands in the fields. American folk art historians say scarecrows are in a class known as “ephemerals” in that they don’t last long.
In ancient Greece, wooden figures of Priapus, god of fertility, horticulture and viticulture, were placed among crops as guards. Images of Norse god Odin and his ravens, Huginn and Muninn have also been cited as a model for early scarecrows.
No matter their cultural roots, scarecrows worldwide were conceived of to perform a specific task: to frighten.
For the most part, the scarecrow has vanished from the American landscape, replaced by chemicals and high-tech mechanisms such as a digital scarecrow with infrared sensors that emit ultrasonic waves.
But at Rype & Readi, the scarecrow lives on in a tradition of team-building opportunities for groups all around St. Augustine.
Learn more about our Scarecrow Building Contest at THIS LINK.
Learn more about our Burning Man Scarecrow at THIS LINK.