A Piece of History
This mid-1500s painting depicts a legend spread in Flanders (Belgium). It was especially often told by children who were dissatisfied with their appearance.
According to legend, people who did not like their face went to the city of Eeklo, where the baker could bake a new head. To begin with, the head was cut off and a cabbage cob (symbol of the hollow head) was applied in its place to stop the blood. Then the head was given to the masters, who re-molded the face from special flour and butter and sent to a large oven. Then the old head with a new face has been sewed into place.
But sometimes the head could come out of the oven not baked enough – that’s how “unfinished” idiot appeared; if the head was baked too much – that was a reckless person – “hot head”. If baking did not turn out symmetrical – the person turned out as a freak, a monster.