Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Crescent Moon Cut-Out

While perusing new ARB applications recently, I came across a house with window shutters that had a crescent moon pattern cut-out. I couldn’t help but chuckle. Shutters are lovely adornments to homes which come in a variety of patterns and styles, and yes, with a lot of little cut-out embellishment options. Anchors, clovers, horse heads, acorns, apples, pine trees, and many more profile choices are available when choosing to add a little extra something to your house’s shutter design. But did you know that the crescent moon’s pattern is most often associated with ………………the outhouse???

While there aren’t many surviving outhouses anymore, sure enough, more than a few have the crescent moon cut-out on the door. Some theories postulate its purpose was to let in light. Others say it was the right shape to grab as a door handle, whether from the inside or out, prior to the inexpensive availibility of actual hardware. Another even older theory claims the crescent shape was a female symbol, while the star or sunburst was a male symbol. But the males’ privies weren’t as well maintained and fewer survived, leaving us with far more outhouses with the crescent moon pattern on the door.

Little cut-out patterns are sweet embellishments no matter where they are located, and while I am familiar with the origins of the crescent moon cut-out, I won’t hold it against any owners who find their own reasons to assign it to a feature of their house. I’m sure we could think of many other things that have made similar transitions, from awkward assignments, to those celebrated.

1 comment:

  1. I've been searching for exterior shutters with the crescent moon to adorn my skinny, 1900 farmhouse in southern Ohio. Other cut-outs are just as sweet. Any references? Thanks for your colorful commentary.