The Wisdom of Me

Rubi’s Shrove Tuesday Blog, 28 February 2017

Note for new readers.  There are other donkey blogs, but is the only blog with posts written by a donkey.  Rubí donkey writes an occasional Tuesday piece, helped by Morris donkey when background reading is required.

One thing you may not know about donkeys is that our long ears, which give us exceptional all round 360-degree directional hearing, also act as fine-tuned aerials to pick up radio signals.  When the rabit person sees me standing in my house with eyes glazed over, he is apt to say, “Ah look, there’s Rubí in her house, having a doze.”  Not necessarily: I might be listening to the radio.

On BBC Radio 4 this week I listened to a programme called Something Understood, which is good for meditation, even if some things are not understood.  This week’s episode was something I did understood, as it was called The Wisdom of Mules  (You can listen to it on the BBC, if you also have long ears or a worldly wise web connection.)  Although a mule is not a physical donkey it is very much a mental donkey, so many of the things said on this programme about mules also apply to us.

I am thinking about learning to play the harp, as this has been an instrument played by donkeys for thousands of years and it will also be good for keeping my hooves trimmed.  Morris donkey says he can make one for me out of a bit of tree root and some fencing wire. I’m not sure if it is best played standing up or sitting down, but I could experiment. The sculpture in the picture below is from the Obradoiro in Compostela and there are similar poses in the marginal illustrations from two medieval manuscripts.*

Today is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, and in Spain we celebrate it with Carnaval, a fiesta of fancy dress before we go into Lent.  Of course, there will be no harp playing in Lent.  My Carnaval disguise this year was made with peas.

Rubí celebrating Carnaval


Of course, Lent is an important time of spiritual reflection for donkeys, as we prepare for Palm Sunday, the most important day for donkeys in the whole year.  Jim of Olym has kindly sent us a link to this very clear picture of the donkey cross marking together with a donkey-themed article preparing for Lent by Fr. Michael Bombak, Assistant Pastor of St. Josaphat Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cathedral in Edmonton Alberta.  So here’s wishing all readers of this blog a good an holy Lent.

Nubian donkey with pronounced cross markings on back.


*Editor’s note:

The motif of an ass playing the harp, goes back to Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC. “Ce motif d’âne musicien était déjà représenté à Ur (une des plus anciennes villes de Mésopotamie) 3 000 ans avant notre ère.”   From “Musique et musiciens dans les églises romanes de Poitou-Charentes”  There could be a connection between the association of donkeys with royalty, harp playing, and King David the psalmist?  But that is for an academic study, not a donkey blog.

It is interesting to see that an ancient Mesopotamian image is still here in the modern internet culture: you can order your T-shirt with it online!


2 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Me

  1. The harp will be just the thing for a reflective donk such as yourself and you’ve got the ideal delicate hooves for it too. Perhaps Gareth will paint an illustration of you one day, sitting playing under the pine trees… You need to master it first of course. I suggest you practice while Gareth is out for the moment and certainly not after midnight, even though you may be tempted by the moon. No link to the t-shirt? I expect Aitana is keeping that under wraps…


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