The really interesting thing to me about these ornamentations is that their exact purpose is unclear. There is no historical agreement as to what they are intended for. Why decorate a cathedral with demons ? Is that to scare off what they imagined to be the “real” demons ? Was it to remind churchgoers what fate awaits them if they stray from their faith ? If thats the case, then why would they be so high up and out of view most of the time ?

And what of heads like these that appear to be of normal townsfolk- are these an homage to patrons, or people cast into hell ?

Why such gorgeous detail in places where they would be unnoticed or unseeable ?

7 Responses to Even more Grotesque

  • Absinthe ? lol

  • i think it also has something to do with the fact that narcotics didnt used to be illegal in the 18th & 19th centuries…

    hashishe, anyone? anisette?

  • ever since you posted pictures about grotesques and gargoyles i have begun to take notice. here in chicago i have seen some really clever gargoyles – even venturing to the church in the rain to see them actually work. great photos and excellent history lesson. your photos and website always serves up Detroit real proper like.

  • I strongly suspect that at least one factor is similar to the instinct that leads programmers to hide jokes in their code comments, or for computer chip designers to include little drawings on them. They’re basically gags intended mainly for fellow practitioners – “boy, the first guy who gets up here to repair the roof is going to have a blast…”

  • These pictures of grotesques really show exquisite photographic detail, just wonderful. Since all are apparenly on public buildings why not tell us where they are, or does that make it too easy for the rest of us?

  • I’d always been under the impression that at least some groups believed that when you constructed a gargoyle or other statue in the shape of a deamon, the soul of that same deamon became trapped inside the statue, and so wasn’t able to remain out and about harming people.

    I’ve never really looked it up. I’d be able eaqually well to believe it was midaeveal superstition or a modern old wives tale.

    Benjamin A. Vazquez, U.E.

  • Years ago when I was in Luzerne Switzerland, These things were everwhere. On the sides of buildings at eye level! I took a bunch of pictures of them. I had always thought they were to ward off evil spirits. The ones in Luzerne were really wild, and crazy looking – less scary.