The Salmon of Knowledge
There are many different telling's of this wonderful tale, here is my abbreviated version:
Fionn dutifully cooked the salmon over a fire, turning it over and over, but, in doing so, it developed a blister on one side. Mortified, Fionn tried to push the blister in, and, a drop of fat burnt his thumb. Reflexively, he sucked on his burnt thumb to ease the pain. He then presented the cooked salmon to his master, Fineagas.
|'Finn mcCool comes to aid the Fianna' by Stephen Reid Wikipedia commons|
Fionn mac Cumhail had many more adventures, becoming the ablest and most celebrated leader of the fabled Fianna warriors. Whenever he needed inspiration, knowledge or wisdom, he simply sucked or bit his thumb to receive instant knowing.
Bradan - the design
Bradan derives from an Irish Gaelic word meaning salmon, bradán feasa or Bradan an Eòlais, meaning Salmon of Knowledge, or Salmon of Wisdom. Interestingly, in researching this, I was confused by the two different Gaelic versions, and wondered why there were two. I found that Gaelic has three different words for knowledge: Eolas: 'knowledge of experience,' Fios: 'knowledge of history,' and Focmart: 'knowledge from exploration.'
I love this idea of a range of words to differentiate between knowledge acquired from varying experiences.
|Atlantic Salmon, Salmo salar. Wikipedia Commons.|
Salmon are amazing creatures, and the folklore and mythology of these islands is rich in stories of salmon and their abilities. The name derives from the Latin salmo, which originated from salire, meaning 'to leap.' Some species of salmon return to the river or stream of their birth after many years at sea. Showing true grit and determination, they swim upriver to their spawning grounds, leaping waterfalls and rocks. These exhibited qualities of persistence, courage and strength are surely what inspired the many myths and stories.
As far as the design went, I wanted to weave as many of these influences into the feeling of the piece as I could, and Stewart and I also agreed that the piece should have 'movement.' The leap of the salmon is so fundamental to its place in mythology, that I felt that this was the best way to present it, and I also wanted a feeling of it leaping almost 'out of the plaque.'
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Sources and further information:
Salmon on Wikipedia.
The Salmon of Knowledge - Education Scotland.
The Salmon of Knowledge - Wikipedia
Bradan name derivation
Fionn mac Cumhail / Finn macCool
Assynt Fly Fishing