What do “Bodach-rocais”, “Hodmedod”, “Bwbach”, and “Coigealach” have in common?
“Bodach-rocais” is the Scottish Gaelic for a scarecrow (meaning "old man of the rooks") and is sometimes called a “tattie-bogle”. “Hodmedod” is the name given to a scarecrow in England where it is also referred to as a “Murmet”, a “Mommet”, a “Mawkin” and a “Gallybagger”. In Wales the scarecrow is referred to as a “Bwbach” while in Ireland it is a “Coigealach”.
A scarecrow is a decoy, often in the shape of a human, usually dressed in old clothes and placed in open fields to discourage birds from disturbing and feeding on recently cast seed and growing crops. They are used across the world by farmers and gardeners, and are a notable symbol of farms and the countryside in popular culture.
The scarecrow has featured significantly in folklore and literature over many years. As early as the 8th century in “Kojiki”, the oldest surviving book in Japan, a scarecrow known as "Kuebiko" appears as a deity who cannot walk, yet knows everything about the world. Since then many other authors have used the scarecrow in both friendly and sinister, threatening forms.
The scarecrow has featured in comic book stories and the cinema (notably as a supervillain antagonist of “Batman” and famously in the “Wizard of Oz” respectively). It has also been a focus in music, in songs and albums, and has inspired festivals of different kinds worldwide – quite an impact for something in humanoid form stuffed with straw or rags, dressed in old clothes and draped over a wooden or metal frame.