Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/281

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THE DANCING-TOWER PROCESSIONS OF ITALY.

BY ALBINIA WHERRY, AUTHOR OF "STORIES OF THE TUSCAN ARTISTS," ETC.

(Read at Meeting, 15th March, 1905.)[1]

On Midsummer Day in the year 1492, Tito Melema, the unworthy lover of Romola, was seated with his friends Nello, Cennini, and the painter Piero di Cosimo, in an upper chamber of the barber's house on the Piazza di San Giovanni at Florence. Amid the ringing of bells and the shouting of the populace, a many- coloured train was slowly defiling beneath them, passing from the shadow of the frowning palaces that hem in the narrow street, to the sunny open places where Giotto's Tower rises rose-flushed against the blue sky. Horses, giants, banners, huge figures of saints, had already passed in review, straggling along in the irregular order which characterises Italian ecclesiastical processions. But the part of the spectacle which more especially arrested the attention of the stranger were certain tall slender towers called Ceri.

"These gigantic Ceri, some of them so large as to be of necessity carried on wheels, were not solid, but hollow, and had their surface made not solely of wax but of wood and paste-board, gilded, carved and painted as real sacred tapers often are, with successive circles of figures, warriors, dancing maidens, animals, trees and fruit, and in fine, says the old chronicler, all that could delight the eye and the heart, the hollowness having the further

  1. Cf. ante, p. 131.