What does a shaker look like? A shaker is a member of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, a religious group that originated in England circa 1747. The group later spread to the United States and was known as the Shakers. In addition to their furniture, Shakers are known for their music and spirituality. If you’re interested in learning more about this group, read on to learn more about this fascinating faith and their homes.
The Shaker community was largely self-sufficient, attempting to create a utopia akin to heaven on earth. The Shakers grew their own food, built their own houses, manufactured their tools and household furnishings, and abided by strict rules of behavior, codified in the Millennial Laws of 1821 and expanded in 1845. The Shakers practiced racial equality, pacifism, common property, and celibacy. Although they were very strict about the laws and practices, the community was also heavily dependent on outside recruits.
While unison singing was the predominant mode of Shaker music, western Shaker music manuscripts also include hymns and wordless songs written in three-part harmony. These manuscripts reflect the Shaker preference for harmonized singing. By the 1840s, the eastern Shaker population was experiencing clumsy harmonized anthems. These anthems, originally composed in unison, had lost their effect on the Shaker culture.
In the early twentieth century, Shaker society was also committed to equality. In keeping with their theology, the Shakers allowed women to hold office alongside men and held leadership positions in the community. The Shakers also discouraged procreation, allowing only adult males to become Shakers. The Shakers were also known to be vegetarians and vegans. However, these views were not necessarily popular in the United States, and the Shaker culture continued to develop despite these stances.
The Shaker way of life had an effect on a number of people, and in the twentieth century, the community began to decay. In the meantime, the Shaker artifacts were highly sought-after by modern artists. Modern artists such as Kaare Klint, a famous furniture designer, and Doris Humphrey, a pioneer of dance movements, were inspired by Shaker culture. The latter created «Dance of the Chosen Ones» – an artistic work depicting the fervor of the Shakers.
Though the Shakers initially discouraged visitation, they embraced the idea of ecstatic dance, despite ridicule and discrimination. In 1774, Ann Lee brought eight followers to New York. The Shakers were still a minority in a growing New York City, and the local society was not in the mood for ecstatic dancing and the idea of a God that was equal parts male and female. Shakers began to codify spiritual dances, and visitors soon toured the Shaker villages.
Shaker furniture is a distinctive style of furniture that was created by the religious group United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, or Shakers. These people followed three guiding principles: utility, honesty, and simplicity. Shaker furniture was designed with simple, clean, and elegant lines. Today, these types of furniture can still be found in many homes. Listed below are some of the best examples of Shaker furniture.
Developed for communal use, Shaker furniture is often lightweight and easy to store. Most Shaker furniture features drop leaves and unscrewable legs to facilitate storage. Some pieces even hang from pegs instead of legs. While the Shaker style is known for its simple lines and unadorned designs, it is not devoid of decorative features. Most Shaker furniture features wide slats on the back of chairs and often incorporates acorn-shaped finials.
Shaker and Mission styles of furniture are distinguished by their different wood-working methods. Shakers made furniture from maple and other local American woods, while Mission-style furniture tends to use oak. Mission-style furniture focuses on straight lines and flat planes, whereas Shakers use more natural wood. Mission-style furniture also features exposed joinery, which draws attention to the craftsmanship behind the pieces. Shaker furniture emphasizes functionality rather than aesthetics.
After colonization, Shaker communities began to decline. Their ascetic lifestyle could not compete with modern life and many eventually closed. Faith Andrews, an English scholar, recognized this and began a documenting effort of the remaining Shakers. Her work inspired scholarly research about the Shakers and the style of their furniture. She also helped inspire the creation of museum exhibits on the subject. There is even a Wikipedia article dedicated to Shaker furniture.
Modern designers have also been inspired by Shaker style. Several stores carry furniture and housewares. Bode Manhattan’s design recalls the feel of a Shaker woodshop. In fact, the furniture designers behind Virgil Abloh’s Markerad chair, inspired by Shaker dining chairs, took their cue from the original Shaker designs. Another young designer inspired by Shaker aesthetic is Brian Persico. Persico’s designs are simple, but recall the classic New England furniture.
The Shakers lived in communal villages throughout Ohio, Kentucky, and New England. Their aspirations were primarily spiritual rather than material or social. They believed that Christ had come back as Mother Ann or in the other people who awakened the Christ consciousness. The Shakers modeled their living on this ideal. Their spiritual practice was based on simplicity and austerity. While their ideals differed from other religious groups, there are some common characteristics among Shakers.
The religious practice began with a covenant, which was developed after the Shakers’ first spiritual experience. Shakers often engaged in ecstatic movements during their worship. In Shaker texts, dance was considered a spiritual means of shaking off sin. Today, many world religions incorporate dance into rituals. For example, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus all write about dance during worship. Shakers were no exception. In addition to the ecstatic movements, Shakers also practiced celibacy and other forms of sanctity.
According to the tradition, Shakers communicated with various spirits, including Native Americans, Africans, and Arabs. They also had regular conversations with Spiritualist preachers. In the late 1830s, the Shakers had their own religious revival. A young novitiate at South Family in Watervliet received spiritual visions. The ministry was thrown by the sudden upswing in spiritual activity. This young novitiate even sweated blood.
Although Mother Ann died in 1784, her teachings were maintained close by the Shakers. In 1816, they collected the Testimonies, an oral history and eyewitness accounts. The text is full of parables and miracles. Today, two Shakers, June and Arnold, continue to preserve the name of the Mother in their prayers. They worship in the Shaker temple on Sabbathday Lake, near Albany. While a number of Shakers adhere to this unique spirituality, it is important to note that the community is not uniform.
One of the most notable differences between the Shakers and other religious groups is the group’s social structure. In the Shakers, the majority of the members are white. While Shakers were not racially diverse, they practiced an extremely liberal lifestyle. Their observance of communal living is a testament to their egalitarian nature. In addition to avoiding sexuality, Shakers practiced communal living. This social structure has many parallels with the social structure of modern America.
Today, the public rarely hears any Shaker music. Most Shaker music has only been popularized by Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring. In fact, Shaker music is practically unknown to the public and is only familiar to a few Shaker enthusiasts and scholars. Although Shaker music is not as well known as other genres of American popular music, it is still an impressive display of innovation and productivity. Hundreds of Shaker musicians produced a prodigious amount of original music, and many of these songs were also used as custodians of Shaker friendships.
The Shaker music notation was developed to make it easier to play and learn, and hundreds of manuscripts of Shaker music use letteral notation. Songs may have hundreds of pages or thousands of songs in each book. While Shaker music was largely ignored until the twentieth century, most of the manuscripts of Shaker songs still feature their signature letteral notation. The lyrics, meanwhile, are composed of tongues unknown to historians, and are similar to Native American languages and African slave songs. Despite these similarities, the melodic material contained in Shaker tunes is European and has a definite connection with the music of the European era.
A significant contribution of western converts to the Shaker movement was the development of their musical style. The earliest hymns infused Shaker doctrines of gender equality and a dual godhead. Shaker hymns also incorporated concepts such as collectivity and gender into their lyrics. While these ideas are not as prevalent today, they remain powerful in American folk culture. So, a renewed public interest in Shaker music may be just what the genre needs to be revived.
The first Shaker hymn was written in 1787 by Father James Whittaker. Father James Whittaker later went on to write the first full-length Shaker song with words and music. Another song, «Simple Gifts», was composed by Elder Joseph Brackett and Brother Thomas Hammond in 1848. It became an instant classic, and is now widely available on CD and computer discs. The song also has bonus audio and video features.