The concept of green men has cropped up all over the world for centuries. The above image is from Scotland, and below, India, Italy and Spain. The images appear most often in stone carvings in religious places, but also in wood and other materials. There are three distinct variations of the green man. The foliate head, which is completely covered in leaves, the leaves often forming the facial hair. The disgorging head, which spews vegetation out of its mouth, and the bloodsucker head which has vegetation pouring from every orifice, such as from the eyes, nose and mouth. Traditionally thought of as a pagan symbol of rebirth and regeneration, the green man was then adsorbed into Christianity, perhaps because of the rebirth aspect and began appearing in religious places such as churches.
Less common is the image of the green woman, sheela-na-gigs. She is often shown with her legs parted with vegetation coming out of her. This also represents the idea of rebirth. For obvious reasons, this image is not seen as acceptable for display within the church.
I have always been fascinated by the image of the green man, the combination of greenery and human features brings to mind mystical creations like Pan. I feel that this image has subconsciously inspired my pieces.