Haystacks fascinated Vincent van Gogh. He made several paintings of the same subject.
Dr Abe V Rotor
Haystacks fascinated Vincent van Gogh. He made several painting of the same subject. Here are three versions. Upper photo shows a twisted haystack apparently moved out of its center of gravity. It's Van Gogh's characteristic style, like his Starry Night. The second version (left) shows well-balanced haystacks with perfect cone. The third focuses more on idyllic life beside a haystack, as if it give comfort and warmth to tired souls.
The mandala is indeed an engineering feat, especially the tall ones. Without any structural reinforcement except a single bamboo post at the center, this giant mushroom-like heap of rice hay can grow very high, up to twelve feet, although farmers today prefer to build smaller mandala but in groups. It is mainly because the varieties planted now are shorter than the native varieties that are now rare. Here are some amazing features of the mandala.
- When it rains the haystack gets wet only on the outside (animal fur principle).
- There is natural ventilation inside the stack preventing growth of fungi and bacteria, and the buildup of heat.
- Aerodynamics kept the structure in shape, whatever is the strength and direction of wind.
- The haystack supplies domestic animals their regular supply of roughage, until the next harvest comes. As the lower part of the stack is consumed by the animal the whole weight slowly comes down to replenish it.
- The remaining hay is used as mulch for vegetables and seedlings. It is also used as mushroom bed, temporary roofing and shed, and material for making compost.
- It is often a practice to stock palay-on-the-stalk (unthreshed) mandala style, a practical way of storage, where there are no poachers and rodents.
- The mandala is a associated with village festivities. Our national artist, Fernando Amorsolo painted immortal scenes around the mandala.