Monday, April 13, 2009

Murder Weapon

“I was recently in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, and in the Catherijneconvent Museum I came across a glass case in which lay a murder weapon from an old medieval crime: it was a stole woven of fine cream silk with silver thread – Byzantine work, sixth century. It had been used, said the label, to strangle Saint Cunera, by a wicked queen who was jealous of the young woman’s goodness and her beauty when she came to live at court.
[…] this Saint Cunera is a predecessor of Snow White, her story belongs to the famous Constance cycle of folklore and turns up, in different form, in classical, medieval and modern stories all over the European […] world.
In those long ago times we are wrong to call dark, stories seem to have traveled fast, acquiring resonance and depth, imagining the world in the shape of need and desires – almost as fast as satellites transmit tales today: the scarf that strangled Ursula’s last virgin was woven in Syria thirteenhundred years ago, lies in Holland today and belongs to a story every child knows.”

Warner, Marina, Saint Cunera's Scarf, in Warner (2004), Signs and Wonders: Essays on Literature and Culture, Vintage, Random House, London, p.90, 91


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