The Legend of the North

Illustration de Pierre Marie

Illustration de Pierre Marie

A winter fairytale dreamt up by Pierre Marie and Ahmed Terbaoui will be accompanying and illustrating our Winter 2018 Collection. All three candles tell their own story but together they become a little fairytale illuminated by flickering winter candlelight.

This fairytale  reminded diptyque of the illustrations drawn by artists in the diptyque boutique in the Sixties when it was a discrete bazaar of suprises packed with beautiful, unusual and amazing things. Selected by Desmond Knox-Leet, these drawings came from the great English tradition of illustrations set to accompany fairytales and myths. Here on a piece of furniture we find some by Kate Greenaway for the « Birthday book of Children » bringing the verses of Lucy Elizabeth Drummond Sale-Barker to life, and on another shelf a little further away, reproductions of Arthur Rackam engravings which illustrated famous tales such as Alice in Wonderland and probably, on turning round, you might see, sandwiched between a wooden doll as colourful as a bird from the south and a pile of vintage bedlinen and some fine crockery from times gone by, the grotesque proportions of a beneficent and mischievous character drawn by the great illustrator Aubrey Beardsley.

But here is our fairytale for this winter… The Legend of the North.

The longest night of the year had just begun when three travelers met. The first came from the South, where the mountains contained mysterious caves, the second from the West, where the seas concealed strange treasures, and the third from the East, where the pine trees form forests so tall they touch the clouds. The three had planned to meet in the eternally snow-covered lands of the North to discover its secret. It was said that this secret could be revealed only if an ancient and mysterious rite invoking three spirits by candlelight were performed in exactly the right way.

Bound by this same quest, our travellers had had more than one adventure to obtain the magical knowledge that would finally let them uncover the polar mystery.
They formed a circle in the black night and, one after the other, each lit a candle and placed it at their feet.

Silence. The rite began.

The traveller from the South held a ball of almond paste in one hand and a large bell made of glass and gold in the other. She threw the ball into the candle’s flame and, in the wafts of smoke, rang the bell and recited these verses:

O Great Bear of the Mountains of the South,
Leave your cave and open your mouth,
Come near to the sound of the bell,
See the nice offering you like so well,
Eat this tasty almond paste,
May its flavour loosen your tongue with haste,
Before the sun’s first rays burst forth
Reveal to me the secret of the North.

The chiming of the bell still rang in the air as the traveller from the West took a vial of seawater and poured it over a hundred-year-old pearl. He threw it onto the candle and suddenly began to sing:

O Mermaid of the Sea,
Far West of the land you be,
You who appear only by moonlight,
Guide me through the mist this night,
Dance to the rhythm of your pearly mane,
Where eternal amber is contained.
Before the rays of sun appear
The secret of the North we shall hear

As the last note of this song sounded, the traveller from the East threw pine needles into the flame at his feet and chanted the following spell:

O Deer Spirit, in the green Eastern wood,
Near and dear to all that’s good.
This midnight hour is so very black
Light up the trees to push the shadows back
Illuminate this path of mine
Across this carpet of fragrant pine.
And now as I cast this spell,
The secret of the North you shall tell.

The last verses had barely been uttered when the flames of the three candles blazed up high and, in a flash, the spirits that had been invoked appeared in spectral form.
The Bear of the South told them that the secret of the North would be revealed with the last shadows of the night.
The Mermaid of the West told them that it was an ancient object that could grant any wish made just before sunrise.
The Deer of the East told them exactly where the object could be found.

As the prophesy had foretold, a few minutes before sunrise, the three travelers saw an intense sparkling in the snow. Scraping away the snow all around the spot, they saw a large Golden Compass appear. Holding their breath and clasping hands before the ancient object, they had only to make a wish before the first light of the new day…