February 01, 2007

Gargoyles

For some reason I have always liked gargoyles.  I am not sure why.  Maybe because they were always so eerie and sitting up high on buildings looking down at people.   Just like evil little gods.  I got a gargoyle desk calendar this year and none of my coworkers like it.  Last year I had a Bob Marley calendar with awesome pictures of him.  People would come by at the start of each month just to see what picture was next.  This year I get looks and some even saywhy gargoyles?  I think they are pensive and that is the sort of mood I am. With the death of my father in December the whole world is different.  I think about what REALLY is important.  Gargoyles help me with that.  They look like they are always thinking.  Pondering.  Pondering what little men are scurrying about the earth in a panic about.  All we need to do is stop, sit and think about out actions and maybe the world would be a different place. 

Gargoyles.  They will be peering eerily at me and my co-workers each month.  Whenever I get a new calendar I never look ahead to see what the next pictures are.  I want then to be a surprise.  This month the gargoyle is one that sites atop a building at Oxford University.  Brasenose College to be exact and he looks like he is really thinking.  He has both his hands to his temples and his eyes are looking out into the horizon.  His mouth is slightly opened.  He is a gargoyle with a problem.  One that he cant seem to solve.  That is how most people are.  Bugged by problems with no good way to solve them.  Not without a lot of contemplation.       

Just a little about gargoyles

Some of the earliest known forms of this type of architectural element have been found in ancient Roman and Greek ruins. These were made of terra-cotta. Later figures were carved of wood, with a complete shift to stone by the 13th century.

Gargoyles were originally intended as waterspouts and drains to keep rain water from damaging the foundation of buildings. The term gargoyle comes from the Latin gurgulio, and the Old French gargouille, not only meaning "throat" but also describing the "gurgling" sound made by water as it ran through the figure. Superstition held that gargoyles frightened away evil spirits while serving their practical function. After the lead drainpipe was introduced in the sixteenth century, gargoyles primarily served a decorative function.

Although most have grotesque features, the term gargoyle has come to include all types of images. Some gargoyles were depicted as monks, combinations of real animals and people, many of which were humorous. Unusual animal mixtures, or chimeras, did not act as rainspouts and are more properly called grotesques. They serve more as ornamentation, but are now synonymous with gargoyles.

Gargoyles can be found in many types of Gothic architecture, but they are usually associated with the great churches and cathedrals of Europe, most notably the Notre Dame in Paris.

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