A Green Man Variant? Beasts Emerging From Mouth Or Ears – And Sirens!

Sculptures from France, England, Germany and Italy with monsters emerging from mouth or ears, form a linked unity that mirrors the Green Man image.  In the Dauphiné, a series of frescos in the Abbey Church of Saint Chef show similar images linked to representations of sirens that are found in Romanesque sculpture and other media.  In Italy we can see similar images in mosaic.  Perhaps the source for all these images may be traced to Roman mosaics representing the god Okeanos.

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Are Harpies Sirens?

 According to the notice, the tomb of Kybernis in the British Museum, dating from about 480 BC, has long been known as the Harpy Tomb after the female-headed birds on the four corners.  The British Museum uses the terms "Harpy" and "Siren" interchangeably, as though they were the same thing.  But are they? 

 

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Daolas Abbey

THERE ARE EARLY EXAMPLES OF STONE MASKS on the fountain in the cloister at Daolas (Douglas) Abbey, in Brittany. These heads are pre-Romanesque, from the Xth or XIth century. They are not spitting foliage but real water.

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Further Notes On Details Of The Nazareth Capitals

In order to understand the work of the Maitre de Plaimpied better I have been deconstructing the pictures I took of the “Temptation” capital at Plaimpied and of the Nazareth Capitals.  I have looked first at Whole Bodies, then at Heads, Hands, Feet, Halos, Hair, Clothes, Artefacts and Architectural Canopies.  Where it seemed appropriate I have looked at Possible Influences.

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Green Cats – And Dogs

GREEN CATS AND DOGS – “Green Cats” are actually lions. In medieval bestiaries the lion is a symbol of courage, strength, royal power, and when winged, of St Mark the Evangelist. Medieval masons were unfamiliar with real lions which is why they tend to look like cats in Romanesque sculpture.

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Green Men And Sirens At St Michel D’Aiguilhe

 

The chapel of St Michel d’Aiguilhe, high above Le Puy en Velay, has a marvellous façade where Green Men spew an arc of vegetation with more Green Men among foliage in the spandrels standing upon foliate masks.  They surround an unusual pair of sirens on the lintel.  This 12th-century chapel of St Michael the Archangel was implanted – as so often with churches dedicated to St Michael – on a pagan shrine of a Gallo-Roman Mercury.  Such places are normally found on heights, and are among the earliest Christian emplacements. 

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Naked And Clothed Among Foliage

CAN WE DRAW ANY INFERENCES  from the sculptures of clothed and naked men among foliage in the church of Saint Jacques de Conzac, in the Charente?  This church, with many Green Man sculptures of exceptional quality may provide clues for the interpretation of certain images.

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The Capitals Of The Crusader Church At Nazareth And At Plaimpied-Givaudins, Bourges

Five Romanesque capitals were found in Nazareth in 1908.  They were never used but had been buried, probably to preserve them from Saladin, in 1187.  They depict scenes from the lives of Jesus and the Apostles: SS Peter, Thomas, James and Matthew.  There are also representations of the Church as Ecclesia, and of devils of different kinds.  It is thought by many that the capitals were made by a French sculptor who also worked at Plaimpied-Givaudins, near Bourges, while others believe the Nazareth Master was born in the Latin Kingdom.

 

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The Green Man In Benin

Three objects made in Benin in the 16th-18th centuries : a bronze dish with a foliate mask and two artifacts made of ivory and exhibited in Paris in 2007, appear to indicate the influence of Romanesque iconography 
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Tree Nose Green Men

TREE NOSES : Sometimes a head appears to have a tree on its forehead. It seems that the Tree Nose is a simplified version of “the face made of leaves”, and as such, qualifies to be a foliate head or Green Man.

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Two Well-Travelled Motifs: Three Hares And Cintamani: Part One, Three Hares With Ears In Common

THE FAMOUS SYMBOL OF THREE HARES can be seen as a representation of the Holy Trinity and is found in Christian churches in many parts of Europe as well as in ancient Buddhist temples. What is surprising is the close juxtaposition of the Three Hares and the Green Man in Wissembourg in Alsace and Throwleigh in Devon as well as in other locations.  Did the motif start in the Far East, as is generally believed, or did it start in Persia or the Middle East and travel full circle before returning to Europe?

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Two Well-Travelled Motifs: Three Hares And Cintamani: Part Two, Cintamani

THE SYMBOL OF THE TRIPLE-DOTS or CINTAMANI can also be seen as representing the Holy Trinity and, like the "Three Hares" symbol, is at home in Christian churches as it is in ancient Buddhist temples.  Parallel to the story of the circuitous route of the "Three Hares" motif and its transformation, the story of the cintamani is another enduring decoration that has travelled great distances in time, space and cultures.

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