The making of Rhiannons Horse

One of my favourite Charachters in the Mabinogion has to be Rhiannon The Goddess of Horses and BIrds it is this tale that was the inspiration for Making Rhiannons Horse.

A little explaination of the Tale:

She first appears in the First branch of the Mabinogion in the story of Pwyll – Prince of Dyfed. Rhiannon appears at Gorsedd Arberth an ancestral mound near one of the chief courts of Dyfed.     

Pwyll, the prince of Dyfed, has accepted the challenge of the mound’s magical tradition to show a marvel or deal out blows. Rhiannon appears to him and his court as the promised marvel. She is a beautiful woman arrayed in gold silk brocade, riding a shining white horse. Pwyll sends his best horsemen after her two days running, but she always remains ahead of them, though her horse never does more than amble. On the third day he finally follows her himself and does no better, until he finally appeals to her to stop for him.

Rhiannon has been betrothed to Gwawl. But she falls in love at first sight with Pwyll and proposes an elaborate plan to enable her to marry Pwyll rather than Gwawl.

Pwyll of course goes along with her plan as he is also totally smitten – They plan to use  Rhiannon’s knowledge of Gwawl’s weaknesses, his pride and lust for her –

Pwyll dressed as a beggar, approaches Gwawl at a Feast with a sack that can never be filled until a nobleman stomps down on the bag and orders it to be full. Pwyll enters and asks Gwawl if he can fill his bag with food, to which Gwawl immediately agrees. He becomes irritated when he sees how much food is being put into the sack and asks Pwyll when the sack will be full. Pwyll, as Rhiannon had instructed, says to Gwawl that a strong and powerful noble must trample down the food in the sack and say “enough has been put in here” and then it will be full.

Upon being persuaded by Rhiannon to do the task, Gwawl stands in the bag and Pwyll pulls the bag over Gwawl’s head, trapping him within the sack. Pwyll summons his war band and they round up Gwawl’s men and put them in chains. Gwawl, himself, is beaten within the bag by Pwyll’s men, striking the bag with either their foot or a stick. This is the first account of the game “Badger-in-the-Bag” being played.

 Gwawl calls out to Pwyll, stating that there is no honor in killing a man trapped in a bag. Pwyll agrees to release Gwawl, if he first promises to never take revenge on them for what has happened. Gwawl eagerly accepts their proposal and is freed from the bag.

 

The Process of making the sculpture in images:

 

The Mane was made from The Wasted Warp from the Woven Cloth used on the piece.

Approximately 5000 pieces of Yarn make up the Mane.

IMG_1395
Hand threading the mane with over 5000 pieces of yarn

The Amulets for the Bridle:

These were made by Kathryn Willis and you can read all about the process and inspiration on her Blog

discs
Process of creating Rhiannon’s Horse bridle pieces

The Finished piece:

 

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