Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gargoyle’s: Our Guardian Dragons

Gargoyle on St. Vitus' Cathedral

When one looks at the architecture that was created during the Renaissance period one of the most prominent, literally and figuratively, was that of Gothic Architecture. This architecture is marked by its grandiose cathedrals, towering steeples and elaborate decorations, inside and out. One of these elaborate decorations that can be found in Gothic architecture is that of Gargoyles.

Originally Gargoyles were used aesthetically to hide downspouts for rain on churches and cathedrals, but it then began to evolve. They soon began to be solely sculptural, not serving an actual purpose, but to add intricacies to the buildings. So, while these gargoyles were being created, ideas behind why they were necessary to the architecture also were being created. The main idea that grew out of these contemplations was this: dragons in the forms of gargoyles were used to guard churches and holy places against satanic spirits that would try to infiltrate these religious settings.

So, as we see here the dragon has taken on a positive form in the essence of gargoyles. For populations of the time knew that dragons were mighty beasts, and who wouldn’t want one guarding their church? Interestingly, they are once again tied to the Church, but this time in a greatly more positive way then when they were illustrated as figures of sin or paganism, in paintings and sculptures with St. George. This duality pf the dragon on the church just once again goes to show the great ambivalence that this beast could incorporate during the time.


Anonymous said...

Randy, I love the fact that you choose to study dragons. Thats awesome! I especially liked this post. I love architecture (actually thought about being an architect for a while) and this really interests me. I've always admired the detail of gothic buildings but have never really done any research into the significance of it. I thought that it was really cool that they used the dragon, or the gargoyles rather, for both practical and spiritual purposes. They were primarily used as aesthetic outlets for a rain spouts, but then they started seeing them as guardians of the church. I love how they had meaning for everything back then. Something wasn't just put on a building for kicks. It served a purpose, and in this case two.

C. Stephens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C. Stephens said...

Haha! I found that my opening sentence for this comment was exactly the same statement Ronnie has made! I am really happy that you chose to study dragons, as well. They are such a fascinating concept due to, as you said in class, the perception of them as evil versus the perception of them as honorable. I, personally, have previously always sided with the dragon in stories. But partially, I believe this might be due to the idea that most "bad" supernatural creatures are depicted as sometimes helpful in modern fiction. It just goes to show the changes in culture over time- maybe they based their negativity on fear or perhaps just superstition. Modern sciences and "logic" lead us, today, away from the fears of the old world.

Glad you found such a fascinating topic!

Mayalita said...

Since everyone else is doing it, I'm going to comment on this as well.
I've always wondered why cathedrals would have dragons/gargoyles on the building if they were considered to be evil. I believed that it was to guard of evil but why would evil block evil? Another idea that I had was since many cathedrals were built during the time Gothic architecture was popular, they kept up with modern times. It always scared me though to see a gargoyle on a building as it makes the building seem dark. I can just imagine them coming alive at night and terrorizing a building. Just their faces alone scare me and I don't know what made the designers use them as a guardian. I kind of understand the concept but I like going into a building that would make me happy, not a place that gives me chills and like something is watching me like the gargoyles.