Black Pig Border Morris - The History

HISTORY




A Bit About Black Pig

Named after the ship of the infamous Captain Pugwash, Black Pig Border was formed in 1986 in Eastwood on the Nottinghamshire and Derby border. Our founder members were a group of like minded dancers and musicians who had tried other forms of Morris dancing and were looking for something a little different.


From this small group of people, Black Pig has evolved over the years to what you see today. We are a mixed group of both male and female dancers and musicians. We have performed all over England at a wide variety of events, ranging from pub tours through fetes and festivals. We have danced in California and Germany and also appeared in an episode of Peak Practice.


We have also been involved in the research behind the Stephen Booth Book Blind to The Bones which is dedicated to our dance group.


A Procession of Pigs


 

A Bit About Border Morris

As far as is known, Border Morris Dancing originates from the English/Welsh borders of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Border Morris was usually done during the winter months where the dancers performed  vigorously using sticks and bells. One of the explanations was that it was danced to ward off the evil spirits of the old year allowing the return of spring.

Over the years, we have developed our own style of Border Morris performing traditional dances and some of our own invention. We use both traditional and contemporary tunes for our dances and have produced two music CD's which are available to purchase through our shop.

Costumes

From our original costume of  Flat Caps, Black Trousers, Black Tattered waistcoats and pink shirts, our kit has evolved into the multi-coloured garb that we wear today. Although our basic kit is predominantly black (Black T-shirts and Trousers) we now wear brightly coloured and patterned Tailcoats which we make ourselves, Top Hats festooned with just about anything you could imagine, Multi-coloured Scarves , Ribbons and Bells.

Painted Faces

Face and body paints have been used from the earliest times, and for a variety of reasons - to enhance beauty, increase fear in the beholder or ward off evil spirits. Face painting is closely linked with masks : both create a disguise and a sense of make believe. Our painted faces are part of the Border Morris tradition. There are several explanations regarding the painted face - We prefer to adopt the popular  idea that it is to ward off the evil spirits of winter, and disguise us so that they do not return to haunt us.




 

Mummers Plays

A Mummers Play is an English folk drama based upon the fight between good and evil. One of the protagonists is killed off by the other and is then revived by a magical doctor. Various other characters appear during the course of the play - the amount and variety depending upon the area in which the play originates.
Black Pig perform a version of the old Selston (Nottinghamshire) Bullguysers' play usually at Christmas or in the New Year. We learned it from an old Selston resident who last performed it in his youth.
It is usually performed in pubs local to the Selston area and the play lasts about ten minutes, depending of course on how much beer has been quaffed.
For full details of our play click on the Mummers Play link.
For further in depth information , photo's and scripts on hundreds of folk plays from all over England, visit the Folk Play web site from our related links page.




The Company of Owd Oss

The custom was revived by Dave Mooney and several members of Black Pig border morris. Dave discovered that the old horse Christmas play had once toured Kimberley and surrounding area. Further research led to discovery of version of Notts old horse play recorded by M.H. Mason in 1902 and this is the song and music that is used. Attempts to acquire a genuine horse skull failed due to laws regarding disposal of animal remains so a hoodening-type horse was made and painted in the red/black colour mentioned by Mason. The design of the horse was sketched by Tina Saxton with final construction by Dave Mooney and Owen Lewis using Chicken wire and papier-maché. Jaw movement is by a rope-pulley mechanism. Nick Betinis operated the horse while Brian Howes performed as the horse ticer and sang the songs.

The play is quite short in length and involves horseplay between the animal and its ticer/blacksmith culminating in the poor horse being roughly manhandled from the premises as ‘neither use to ride upon nor in the team to draw.’ Those who take pity upon him are invited to make a charitable donation.


The Black Pig Border Morris are Corporate members of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party

Website Design - (c) Y Morley 2007