Friday, January 24, 2014

Black Cat, by Leada Wood, Texas Artist

Day 24 of Leslie Saeta's 30 paintings in 30 days challenge.

My brothers always liked firecrackers, but they scared me! I did enjoy the big ones that blew up in the sky but didn't like the small ones you had to light...I was more of a sparkler girl.

 I was discussing with boot man about doing a firecracker painting, I had in mind doing one big firecracker. Hearing him talk about his firecracker days and black cats stirred up a lot of memories of the 4th, and one thing let to another. I never liked that mean looking cat on their packages either! I was such a sissie girl.

Many historians believe that Independence Day’s most explosive form of entertainment originated in China, which continues to produce and export more fireworks than any other country in the world. It is thought that, as early as 200 B.C., the Chinese had already stumbled upon a sort of natural firecracker: They would roast bamboo, which explodes with a bang when heated due to its hollow air pockets, in order to ward off evil spirits.

At some point between 600 and 900 A.D., Chinese alchemists—perhaps hoping to discover an elixir for immortality—mixed together saltpeter (potassium nitrate, then a common kitchen seasoning), charcoal, sulfur and other ingredients, unwittingly yielding an early form of gunpowder. The Chinese began stuffing the volatile substance into bamboo shoots that were then thrown into the fire to produce a loud blast. The first fireworks were born.

The firecrackers, both then and now, are thought to have the power to fend off evil spirits and ghosts that are frightened by the loud bangs of the firecrackers. Firecrackers are used for such purposes today at most events such as births, deaths and birthdays. Chinese New Year is a particularly popular event that is celebrated with firecrackers to usher in the new year free of the evil spirits.

     Black Cat by Leada Wood copyright 2014

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