Wednesday, May 9, 2012

the Schaff peacock

A peacock stands on Roman arches investigates a fig tree is one of five ornaments on a wall facing Redfern, of what was Henry J Schaff School, in Parma, Ohio. The school was built 1927?, and served as a junior high, and then as Schaaf Community Center. It is now a scab charter school. The original brick work is perfect after seventy-five years. Additions, and changes to the exterior are of lesser beauty, and quality.

The other four ornaments do not hint at any allegory, and are purely decorative. A larger ornament stone is above entrance doors, and below the carved titled stone. It is of a stylised fig tree and has the initials HJSS, and is of better material (sandstone vs. cement?).

Now, we are in Ohio, the eastern edge of the American middle West. Why a peacock on a school? It is in India, not Indiana, where the peacock is associated with the goddess Saraswati. She is the goddess of learning, science, arts, knowledge, music and stuff. The fig tree is the national tree of India, and it was under such a tree the Buddha was enlightened.

I have almost convinced myself. Roman arches and Indian symbolism in 1920s Ohio? English as other European languages of instruction use much Greek, Roman, and Biblical references as classical referents. The peacock biblically, was peace and plenty; later Christianity it suggested Resurrection and Heaven; for the Egyptians a sign of royalty, for the Romans it was effeminate; and for the Greeks, the watchfulness of Argos for Hera. In some churches a peacock, or a pair are drinking from a fountain. There the birds are immortal souls drinking from the Fountain of Life.

There is always interesting things to find if one looks and co-ordinates thought.

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