What is this human need to decorate? Why can we not settle for the plain and practical?
As soon as the early humans stuck their fingers in ash or ochre for the first time, and found out that it could be used to draw squiggly lines, stick figures, and animals, humans have decorated the world around them. Even though it serves no practical purpose (and takes time away from other, more vital tasks), we beautify the objects we create.
So, what is this odd object that is the subject for today’s blog post? Is it some sort of deity? Is it a figure of a demon or some strange spirit? No, it is merely a container for flour, collected in Afghanistan in the early 1970s. If the decorations have any significance, that information was never passed on to the museum. All we know is that it is a flower container of the kind used by peasants. But one thing is for certain: it brings us joy. And while a plain, unadorned clay pot might have served the same practical purpose—the storage of flour—such an object would not bring a smile to our lips every time we saw it.
This strange flour container is almost creature like in its expression. Its rotund body, stubby ‘arms’ and ‘legs’, and pointy ‘ears’ makes you think of some mischievous imp. Whether that was the intention of the person who created it, I do not know, but it is certain that the decorations are what makes it precious. Decoration brings life to objects. It imbibes them with a vitality, a spirit, and they make us happy.
So in these dark and dreary times, spend a moment on this odd and nonsensical flour container. Enjoy its strange and charming presence. Let it bring a smile to your lips as you wonder at its decorated belly and stubby legs.