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GARGOYLES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

What is a Gargoyle?!

A Gargoyle is a grotesquely carved human or animal figure found on an architectural structure, originally designed (believe it or not) to serve as a spout to throw rainwater clear of a building. The word comes from the French "gargouille" which means "throat or pipe." They later became strictly ornamental and assumed many forms.

To understand medieval sculpture you must imagine the medieval person's powerful belief in God. The cathedral was the manifestation of their faith. Every person in the community contributed something. Those with no gold to give could harnass themselves to the large carts which dragged stones from the quarry to the building site. The cathedral was to be the most beautiful structure on earth, and no task was considered too arduous for the glory of God.

But not all gargoyles were for religious instruction. Some were simply grotesque. One reason for this is the belief that frightening figures could scare away evil spirits, and they were put on the outsides of buildings to do just that.

You are about to meet a peculiar race of creatures which inhabited the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages, proliferating between the 11th and 13th centuries. Some of their decendants have ventured away from churches, migrating to other important buildings, but they have not fared as well as those still comfortably situated in cathedral walls. If you look up you may see one now and then...


Gargoyles in
Europe

Gargoyles in
North America

Gargoyles in
Asia

Gargoyles in
Latin America

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