I’ve had a lot of comments on my “hanging your lutes to the wind“-blog. Thanks to everybody for their reaction. Here is a short overview of some of them…
Most of the reactions were serious suggestions. Some thought the lutes would be trade signs, not necessarily real instruments, but depictions of the craftsman’s trade. Like pair of scissors at the taylor, a laughing pig by the butcher or an anvil for the blacksmith.
Others thought this was to dry or catalyze the lacquer. Even today this is still common practice. Many violin makers make their own UV curing cabinet or simply hang them outside on the clothesline. One violin maker told me he prefers cloudy days, because direct sunlight can damage the finish.
And beside this some less serious suggestions were made.
Like Dutch guitar maker Aiko Timmer, who gave the following solution:
“I’m surprised you don’t know why they did that. It’s an ancient weather station:
– If the lutes get wet it rains
– If the lutes are dry it’s not raining
– If you can see their shadow of the lutes on the ground it’s sunny
– If the lutes are white it’s snowing
– If you can’t see the lutes it’s foggy
– If the lutes are swinging it’s windy
– If the lutes jump up and down there’s an earthquake
– If the lutes are gone there has been a tornado”
And some others thought it might have something to do with Psalm 137, in which the people of Israel sit by the rivers of Babylon (remember the Boney M. song?). In the second verse there is this notion;
We hanged our harps upon the willows (or poplars, red.)
But this sounds much better in Latin; “suspendimus organa nostra”. To suspend our instruments… Well, whatever you like… At least it makes for a good laugh…