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Keane: Exhibition of Barga vanga paintings

discarded vangas - no longer once vitally important objects

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The vanga – a large spade used in this area since Roman times is the central figure in the latest work by Keane.

He has been collecting discarded vangas for many years.

Once vitally important objects which have now been thrown away as agriculture and working the land in general has become either mechanised or left abandoned.


VANGA – a spade with a crossbar for applying the foot – of Germanic origin; compare Old Norse vangsni “ploughshare”

vanga s. f. [lat. tardo vanga, ritenuto di origine germ.] Attrezzo agricolo che serve a preparare il terreno per le colture, rivoltandolo e sminuzzandolo per una profondità di 15-20 cm. Si compone di una lama triangolare piatta, munita di un robusto manico in cui è innestata una breve asta metallica trasversale (staffa o staffale o vangile), sulla quale si preme con il piede per fare penetrare profondamente la v. nel terreno e staccare una zolla.

PALA (πτύον, σκαπάνη, σκαφίον, μακέλλα), a spade (Cato de Re Rust. 10; Plin. H. N. XVII.17 s27, XVII.22 s35). The spade was but little used in ancient husbandry, the ground having been broken and turned over by the plough, and also by the use of large hoes and rakes. [Ligo; Rastrum.] But in some cases a broad cutting edge was necessary for this purpose, as, for example, when the ground was full of the roots of rushes or other plants (Plin. H. N. XVIII.8). Also in gardening it was an indispensable instrument, and it was then made on the same principle as the ok (Colum. X.45). The annexed woodcut, taken from a funeral monument at Rome (Fabretti, Inscrip. Ant. p574), exhibits a deceased countryman with his falx and bidens, and also with a pala, modified by the addition of a strong cross-bar, by the use of which he was enabled to drive it nearly twice as deep into the ground as he could have done without it. In this form the instrument was called bipalium, being employed in trenching (pastinatio), or, when the ground was full of roots to a considerable depth, in loosening them, turning them over, and extirpating them, so as to prepare the soil for planting vines and other trees. By means of this implement, which is still used in Italy and called vanga, the ground was dug to the depth of two spades or •nearly two feet (Plin. H. N. XVIII.26 s62; Cat. de Re Rust. 6, 45, 151; Varr. de Re Rust. I.37; Col. de Re Rust. V.6 p214, XI.3 p450, ed. Bip.). source










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