Even though the Greeks had downspouts, theirs weren’t carved with much of a sense of humor, unlike this jester-figurine on Santa Maria Domkyrkan (St. Mary’s Cathedral), in Visby, Sweden, who is laughing at someone or something.
Apparently, I’m not the first person to question the stonemasons and the meaning of their art. In the 12th century, St. Bernard of Clairvaux was famous for speaking out against gargoyles:
What are these fantastic monsters doing in the cloisters before the eyes of the brothers as they read? What is the meaning of these unclean monkeys, these strange savage lions, and monsters? To what purpose are here placed these creatures, half beast, half man, or these spotted tigers? I see several bodies with one head and several heads with one body. Here is a quadruped with a serpent’s head, there a fish with a quadruped’s head, then again an animal half horse, half goat… Surely if we do not blush for such absurdities, we should at least regret what we have spent on them.
- Three new gargoyles for cathedral (bbc.co.uk)
- The beautiful or the cursed? (hotkeyblog.wordpress.com)
- Lichen this gargoyle! (loiselden.com)
- Look Up! (staceypetzoldgraphicdesign.wordpress.com)
- 30 Cool and Creepy Gargoyles, Monsters from Around the World (techeblog.com)
- Visby(Sweden) vs Amami Ohshima and Sakushima(Japan) (mentaimariko.wordpress.com)
- On the “riches and merits” of St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s theology (insightscoop.typepad.com)