Tympanum at Vézelay

Today, I will tell you about the sculptural decoration of the tympanum at Vézelay. But first a few words of introduction. The functioning of the Romanesque sculpture was closely related to architecture. It decorated portals, jambs, archivolts, lintels and sometimes spilled over the entire facade. Inside the building, it focused on columns, accumulated on capitals,…

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The power of feathers

How do you think what this object was made of? To make it a bit easier, this is an Aztec shield made at the beginning of the 16th century. The colorful creature is identified as a coyote, a guardian animal of Aztec warriors. Others believe that this is the representation of the Ahuitzotla aquatic monster….

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Mirabilia

I have recently focused here on describing images of monstrous human races in order to understand the mechanism of creating an image of other in European culture. In previous entries, I summarized how the ancient Greeks and Romans perceived the inhabitants of distant lands and how this influenced knowledge developed in the Middle Ages. Today’s…

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Monstrous races & christianity

After a short overview of ancient texts describing the inhabitants of inaccessible lands, it is time for medieval authors. The knowledge of the world developed in antiquity penetrated the imagination of Christian writers. On the one hand, they rejected everything that was associated with pagan practices, but they remained faithful to the belief that monstrous…

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March equinox

Today is the March equinox. From now on, the day will be longer than the night. This moment was worshiped by many cultures, in Babylon it marked the beginning of the new year. Twelve-day celebrations began with a procession that set off through the northern gate of the city, dedicated to the goddess of love…

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Meet Sibylla

The illustration of the pineapple fruit opens the collection of Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium – the transformation of insects from Suriname, the most important work in the rich oeuvre of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717). According to the words she wrote, pineapple was the most important edible fruit in the Americas and that was why she gave…

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Meet Dodo

Images can store memories of long-lost people or objects. Sometimes they even revive them. I experience this feeling every time I look at the animals collected by Roelant Savere in his painting. Especially I am looking for the one hidden in the shadows behind a big bull in the foreground and shown in everlasting dispute…

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Hansken

Here are the first parents in the paradise. Just the way the God created them – chubby, disheveled, with a emotional grim on their faces. And totally unaware of their nakedness. They froze in the debate over the need of the consumption of the fruit of knowledge. Within a moment, their world will collapse, the…

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