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Rushwork Bumbee Cage and Three Legged Cross

Date made: 2024

Maker: Callister, John 'Dog'

Description: Examples of soft rush (Junctus Effusus) craft work by Manxman John ‘Dog’ Callister - a bumbee cage and a three legged cross.

John was originally shown how to make the ‘bumbee cage’ as a teenager by the Manx folklorist George Quayle, author of ‘Legends of a Lifetime’. Since then John has been continuing to make the rush work piece and demonstrating the craft to others, attending fairs, shows, and also the Lorient Festival. The Three Legged Cross was the result of him experimenting with an adaptation of the four legged St Bridget’s Cross. The making of bumbee cages is an old Manx tradition, where children would trap a Bumblebee (thought to be a naughty fairy) and transfer it to a bumbee cage made of woven reeds/rushes. The parents would then swap the bee for a stone ort shell and tell the children that it had transformed back into a fairy. They served as simple children’s toys or rattles.

To see John making a bumbee cage:

Materials: soft rush (Juncus Effusus)

Object name: rushwork

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2024-0016


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