Monday, June 13, 2016

Stone Turtle Feet

   Stone Turtle Forelegs really.
   Recognizing them is sometimes easy - other times not so easy; just imagine every shape a turtle foreleg could be and just look for a stone shaped like any real turtle’s foreleg could be by a stone turtle’s head. Or near a nuchal notch if the head is missing.
The more realistic a stone turtle is makes this “more easier” to do, to separate something imagined on a tossed stone Rorschach test from a diagnostic observation of an artistic variation of a repeated pattern that can help diagnose the characteristics of Indigenous Stonework.

  Below is a stone turtle effigy that was covered in old farm junk near a chicken coop in Woodbury CT up until perhaps thirty years ago (1980? 1981?) when an existing chicken-yard was expanded. Chickens excavated this turtle effigy using a method called “scratch and peck.” The small petroform clearly has a solid, low domed carapace or shell represented in stone, as well as two (rather large) forelegs on either side of a triangular head stone of a quartz embedded stone that has possibly been humanly enhanced, exaggerating the resemblance with the suggestion of eyes and a pointed beak, below a protruding style of a nuchal notch. The shell or carapace stone also has a diagonal band of white quartz running across this probably worked but highly weathered stone.
    The stone turtle’s right leg is extended, the other perhaps at rest but not withdrawn. The left foreleg is also concave, almost as if fitted to the turtle’s stone head.
    Above is another stone turtle effigy found in a row of stones, its left foreleg really extended – super extended, if you will. It has some marks that suggest toes although not as clearly as the one below, in a row of stones in Westbrook CT:
    Below: Turtle stone effigy incorporated into a small stone mound in Woodbridge CT. There may be some human enhancement of some of these stones, although the possibility that a “mimetolith” – a naturally formed stone that mimics a turtle head (or foreleg or carapace).
    None of those turtles with low domed shells reminds me of a specific species of turtle pictured above, although the high dome of the one in my Mom’s Westbrook “stone wall” perhaps suggests a box turtle, a very good example of a species specific stone turtle “basks” on a row of stones in Madison CT,  a couple toes possibly worked into the stone that "mimics" the colors and markings of the forelegs of the actual terrapin (and note how the carapace stone could be said to mimic a scute):

(Note the small depression below those toes; a person could burn some tobacco in a shell in that little spot, protected from wind and rain perhaps...)

Above: Swimmer(?) in profile, Watertown CT. Smiling in Woodbury CT, similar colored stones help detect a turtle, and its right foreleg, in a long stone row in the Nonnewaug floodplain:

Near the smiling turtle, a possible “paint pot” rests on turtle feet:

Two views of possible turtle, very possibly split from a single stone, above the same floodplain, just behind a large boulder that could be said to be snake's head at the end of a long stone row:

Just one leg in Litchfield CT:
The only Indigenous stonework I can hang an approximate date on is about 1700, in the stonework of the house my family lives in. There are more examples but here's two views of the retaining wall and front steps, a snake or Great Serpent and a turtle or a Great Turtle, the angle of sunlight and the shadow created highlighting the eyes of each:
Two forelegs extended sideways, head slightly turned in center:
As of yesterday, I am pondering the possibility here that I am seeing another turtle incorporated into the house's foundation:
That could be forelegs on either side of a turtle's head, one disturbed, the other still in place...

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