Sunday, November 30, 2014

Puncheon (Stave)

Puncheon has several diverse meanings. One is an 80 gallon cask. Another is an awl or punch used to puncture some material such as gold. A third is a upright used for framing. Finally, the definition used below: a rough hewn board.
 Rose grabbed up her moccasins from the puncheon floor.
Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy

While the first two definitions trace back to the French, the last two just float freely in etymological space leaving us free to hypothesize whatever we wish. I suggest that the same process was used to hew barrel staves and rough floorboards, and in this pre-industrial environment, the same craftsperson performed both tasks. Thus the products shared the same name.

Supporting this conjecture is stave itself which matches both the boards on the sides of a barrel and that mysterious upright used for framing. Stave, as a verb, also implies piercing.

Rose was a mixed black/native American in the period following the Civil War, and though she lived in humble circumstances, not affording sawed floor boards from a lumber mills, she ably guided her family through these difficult times.

For more about Citizens Creek click:

No comments: