Crawford Catherine Betty, 1910-2002
Inscribed in lower right: Mandrake Hilarion
Many amateur and professional artists were interested in the flora of the island, especially from the eighteenth century onwards. Cyprus was known for its variety of medicinal and herbal plants. In the twentieth century visitors walked the mountains, especially of the Kyrenia range, looking for indigenous and other examples of the flora. This series, of almost miniature illustrations of the wild flowers of Cyprus, are the work of an amateur artist who visited the island along with some friends and compiled an album of photographs and watercolours of their stay. The album included these examples of her work. The watercolour of the mandrake is of special interest as Cyprus was often referred to as the mandrake (Mandragore) of the Levant. The plant is very resilient to weather conditions and has strong, deep roots in the shape of a human body (arms, legs, torso). Although medicinal, in Cypriot villages it is not appreciated and people try to clean their fields from mandrakes before cultivation. As it is very difficult to uproot, they collect the leaves, tie them in a bunch at one end of a rope and the other end is tied to a donkey. The animal is speared to start running and thus uproot the plant. Even if the tiniest of root particle remains in the earth, the mandrake will flourish again. The parallelism with Cyprus refers to the difficulty of uprooting, that is, no matter what, it has been impossible to uproot the Cypriots from their land over thousands of centuries.
24 x 18 cm
Mandrake from Saint Hilarion
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