I am staying with the cathedral theme today. I like the little devilish figures on medieval churches. Their function was to scare people into believing. The masons of old had such great imaginations about what the afterlife would look like. As literacy wasn’t widespread the stories had to be told by easily understood pictures and sculptures like these. Of course the stories were also told orally, but we all know a picture is worth a thousand words.* Apart from this, the sermon was held in  Latin, so most people didn’t understand what was being said. These sculptures were a great support in keeping the congregation in line.

I don’t know if it happens to other people as well, but I fall in love with the sound of words. The word gargoyle is one of my great loves. To my ears it has a ring like a mischievous giggle. I always thought the devilish goblins at churches are gargoyles, but I am mistaken. The figure here is technically a Grotesque. A Grotesque’s function is solely to scare people. The Gargoyles are the figures that also function as waterspouts to channel the water away from the masonry and  protect the building from water damage. I finally found out that gargoyle describes the water channel function itself, not the goblin. How un-poetic. In  German they are just called waterspout, or as my dictionary tells me: Gothic waterspout with grimace, now that is a mouthful.

*BTW in German the saying goes: a picture says more than a thousand words. Does this mean the Germans are bigger wafflers?

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