The Chairing of the Bard (Welsh: Cadeirio’r Bardd) is one of the most important events in the Welsh eisteddfod tradition. The most famous chairing ceremony takes place at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, and is always on the Friday afternoon of Eisteddfod week. Winners are referred to as Y Prifardd(literally “The Chief Bard”).
A new bardic chair is specially designed and made for each eisteddfod and is awarded to the winning entrant in the competition for the Awdl, poetry written in a strict metre form known as cynghanedd.
The National Eisteddfod ceremony is presided over by the Archdruid, who reads the judges’ comments before announcing the identity of the bard, using only the nom de plume that the winner has used to submit the work. Up to this point, no one knows the true identity of the bard, who is asked to stand and is then escorted to the stage. Local children perform a dance to honour the new bard.
Winning the “double” of bardic chair and crown at the same eisteddfod is a feat that has only been performed a handful of times in the history of the eisteddfod. Alan Llwyd and Donald Evans have each performed the double twice.
It is possible to view a very special bardic chair at The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth which is the Maori bardic chair awarded a the Caernarfon National Eisteddfod in 1935.
This particular Chair was won in 1935 by the Reverend E Gwyndaf Evans (1913-1986) for his poem ‘Magdalen’, the youngest poet ever to have won that honour.
The chair has a particularly unusual history: carved and designed in New Zealand using authentic Maori symbols, it was presented by the Welsh exiles of New Zealand in honour of Lady Bledisloe (Alina Kate Elaine Cooper-Smith née Jenkins), the wife of the Governor General and the first Welshwoman to work in the diplomatic service in that country, between 1930 and 1935.
It was carved by Maori craftsmen from the wood of the Tatara tree with decorative eyes from the Paua shell.
It was Gwyndaf’s wish that this chair and his portrait as Archdruid of Wales should be presented to the National Library. Both these items have now been transferred to Aberystwyth following the death of Mrs Evans his widow, by their children.
The National Library will have a presence throughout the week at the Eisteddfod where we will be promoting our resources from afar.
This will enable us to introduce Welsh Newspapers Online as a resource that will enable anyone interested in the history and people of Wales to browse and search through over 100 titles of its rich collection of newspapers before 1910 – and that free of charge. This project is the largest digitization project for the Library to undertake.
The project Welsh Newspapers Online Library contributes to the far-reaching vision to become the first nation to digitize all of its print products are published and shared for free on the web.
This year sees a new stand at the Eisteddfod – COPY. Copy will offer the opportunity to purchase a DVD copy of eisteddfod competitions, ceremonies and concerts.
This service is offered by the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, with the
co-operation of the National Eisteddfod of Wales and BBC Wales.
The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, located in the National Library of Wales, became th home to this complete collection of activities is – a collection dating back to the competitions at the Anglesey National Eisteddfod in1999.
Not only can one purchase copies of this year’s event, but also the option to buy copies of items of any Eisteddfod since 1999. It will also be possible to contact the Screen and Sound Archive after the Eisteddfod week to order.
You will also be very welcome to visit the shop on the Library stand during the course of the week.
You will enjoy browsing at new products that have been specially created from the Library’s collections, Ewenny Pottery, greeting cards and Christmas cards,
Two unique prints may be purchased that have been created specifically for the Library.
1.’It is only through revolutionary means that we can succeed’ – an excerpt from a lecture
delivered by Saunders Lewis in 1962 entitled: ‘Fate of the Language’
This is to coincide with our current exhibition Dot Dot Dash: Communication in Wales.
2. A specially created poster featuring a poem by John Ceiriog Hughes (Ceiriog) entitled ‘A Mountain Brook’ compiled by the local artist Lizzie Spikes.
To coincide with the Autumn exhibition of four important Medieval Manuscripts a print has been commissioned especially for the Library entitled ‘Pais Dinogad’ by Valeriane Leblond.
This is an unusual lullaby from an early manuscript found in the book of Aneurin where a mother tells her son about his father’s prowess as a hunter and warrior.
We look forward to welcoming you to The National Library stand at the Eisteddfod during the course of the week.
If you cannot visit the Eisteddfod in Denbigh then you can also browse online at: www.llgc.org.uk / shop
This post is also available in: Welsh