For long years the pair have stood guardian over the sacred space, their presence conceived to repel what evil spirits might wish to venture within. Their features, once finely carved, are worn and weathered now with the passage of time. One sleeps in peaceful repose, free of all cares. The other watches the world. And despairs.
Today I photographed some chimera.
I always thought they were called gargoyles. It seems I was wrong. According to Wikipedia a gargoyle is a carving designed to carry water off a roof. They usually have a long throat along which rain water flows before pouring out of the creature’s mouth. The name itself comes from the French gargouille and the Latin gargula which can be translated into English to ‘throat’or ‘gullet’. When a (usually grotesque) face is carved merely for decorative purposes, as these two were, they are called chimera or boss. I prefer the name chimera. It sounds rather more mystical.
Nowadays all such carvings are generally clumped under the single name, gargoyle, even though this is not technically true.
The carvings all had a dual purpose, of course. Whether gargoyles or chimaera, they were carved to ward off evil spirits from entering the building – usually churches – upon which they were carved. They were also a warning to the illiterate peasantry of the perils of sin.
These two are carved on either side of a window on St. Helena’s church, built mainly in the 12th-13th century.
This is my entry into Cee’s Black and White Challenge. This week’s theme is textures.
I was quite fascinated by the texture of the stonework: smooth on one side, rough on the other and the weathered faces in the middle.
Colette O'Neill... Environmentalist, Author, Publisher, Photographer. Creator of Goddess Permaculture.
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