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"Welcome to my "About Gargoyles and Grotesques" page. 
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"An amazing feature with stunning photography 
on the subject of Gargoyles from "Deputy Dog's" Blog".

The world’s most bad-ass grotesques and gargoyles

before we look at the beasts themselves, a quick definition courtesy of gravely gorgeous

We tend to call any piece of architectural sculpture that depicts animals a gargoyle. Strictly speaking, however, gargoyles are decorative waterspouts that preserve stonework by diverting the flow of rainwater away from buildings.. Grotesques, while similar in appearance, serve a variety of other practical and ornamental functions, as corbels or capitals, for instance. The term, grotesque, can apply to any fanciful human or animal form, especially when it indulges in caricature or absurdity.

not that it’s a hot topic around manchester but i don’t know anyone that dislikes gargesques (easier to type). when done well they can elevate a building’s brilliance by a hefty percentage but even when done to a lower standard they still manage to add some charm to what otherwise may have been ‘just a building’. i love the idea that there are thousands of these stone devils sitting on buildings, surveying the world below, effortlessly adding charm to their perch. so, below are some favourites in a list which could’ve been larger but ultimately would’ve diluted the greatness of those included, so maybe i’ll do another batch at a later date.

if i was ever going to use the term ‘bad-ass’ (and i am) it’d be to describe the following examples…

the chrysler building, new york


sources, clockwise from top: 1, 2, 3

the chrysler building: a beautiful art deco skyscraper in manhattan which was built to house the chrysler headquarters in the early 1930s. the 61st floor is surrounded by 8 stunning silver eagles (top) which were actually replicas of 1929 chrysler hood ornaments and on the corners of the 31st floor can be found enormous replicas of chrysler’s 1926 radiator caps (bottom left). the fact that architect william van alen was able to add automotive-inspired ornaments to a skyscraper without ruining it is a feat in itself.

unknown building, new orleans


sources: left / right

i came across a photo of this grotesque last year by chance and still believe it to be one of the best around. the problem is, i have no idea which building it guards. all i know is that it resides in the French quarter, new Orleans and is the epitome of evil with its scowling face and victim’s head in hand. horror aside, the craftsmanship is also impressive. does anyone know the story behind it?

notre dame de paris, paris


sources: top / bottom

the gargoyles and grotesques that live on the notre dame de paris are probably the most widely recognised in the world, and with good reason. when built in the 13th century, this cathedral was without gargoyles of any kind - it was only when the incredible building was restored in the 19th century that victor pyanet’s monsters were designed and given their now-famous seats. every single gargoyle and grotesque has been given its own character and with the surrounding views of paris there are hundreds of photo opportunities to be had.

eastern state penitentiary, philadelphia


sources: top / bottom

the idea of attaching a couple of disgusting gargoyles to the exterior wall of a prison is a great one and that’s exactly what they did at eastern state penitentiary in philadelphia, an ominous-looking correctional facility which closed its doors to offenders in 1971. it was opened to the public in 1994 as an historic site and the winged grotesques still stand firm at the gates, looking ready to rip out the eyeballs of all that pass. [update] apparently they’re temporary and only make an appearance at halloween. they should leave them up there permanently.

neues rathaus, munich


sources: top / bottom

unfortunately it’s not often you see enormous dragons attempting to scale buildings, a fact that makes this one in munich’s marienplatz all the more incredible. the huge stone dragon, which also glows in the dark, can be found attached to a corner of the ‘new town hall’ in munich, a building which is pretty much covered in all manner of gargoyles and grotesques.

pena national palace, sintra


sources: left / right

sitting above the door of pena palace in sintra, portugal, is one of the most fantastically hideous grotesques you could ever wish to see. the top half of the beast is ugly human, holding in has hands the branches of a tree which seems to originate at the back of his head, but as we venture south his legs seem to transform into fish-tails. it really is a disgusting piece of work but at the same time oddly compelling and definitely one of the best i’ve seen.

tour d’eben-ezer, bassenge


sources, clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3

completed in 1963 by local eccentric robert garcet, the tower of eben-ezer in bassenge, belgium, was built using flint from a local quarry and contains 7 floors and 4 towers, each of the towers representing a different horseman of the apocalypse. on top of each tower then stands a grotesque which represents a different cherub of the apocalypse. and they’re stunning. in comparison to the size of the tower itself they’re gigantic and are the first thing you notice no matter which angle you approach from, leering over the top as if ready to pounce.

washington national cathedral, washington


sources: left / right

easily the most recent grotesque in this list is the darth vader head that sits quietly on the national cathedral in washington, and it’s most definitely ‘bad-ass’. it was added to the exterior in the 80s as a result of a competition held by the cathedral for kids to design grotesques for the building, 3rd place going to this depiction of evil by a young geek called christopher reader.

gargoyle filth


sources, clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4

finally, i couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post some photos of rude gargoyles, so here they are. the first, an extremely early goatse.cx contender, can be found threatening to shit rain water on passers-by at aswarby church in lincolnshire. the other 3 exhibitionists are all to be seen at the lonja de mercaderes in valencia.

for more gargoyle related info, i’d definitely suggest this site as a starting point and i’d also suggest looking on flickr as there are thousands of photos to be digested. if the last example was more your cup of tea you should take a look at satan in the groin, a site dedicated to ‘exhibitionist figures on medieval churches’. i bet you didn’t have that one in your bookmarks.



 

 

   Below is a blog item I really enjoyed  below from "Lookman's Blog" (Website:  http://www.lookman.co.uk/ )

What is this?

magnify

The above is a gargoyle from the church within Prague [Praha] Castle.

The significance that sculptures like this have are far greater than the purpose of their design to throw water free from the walls of a building before down pipes were invented. They have much more to do with why post Roman Europe was so backward up to when the crusades ended. It had little to do with the people, but more to do with the interpretation of the world by Christians. The pre-Constantinian church may well have been pacifist and even records showed its followers wanted to be martyred to share heaven with Jesus Christ. However Constantine created a monster church that took over all the evil aspects of Imperial power. The first thing the western church did was to do deals with barbarian warlords which enslaved the entire population of Europe. Society was divide between three groups; the aristocracy (people of the bloodline); the Church who could offer salvation to the most evil warlord; and the Serfs (tied labours whose lives, bodies, wealth and possession were in effect the property of the landlord. In consequence we find no pluralism in Europe where Christians ruled the simply killed murdered all of the followers of pre-Christian faiths. I read in Nikoli Tolstoy's book that the Romans had a law to kill a Druid wherever they are found, this situation continued under Christian supremacy. It is untrue that Christians were singled out to be killed in amphitheatres anything or any group the Emperor dis-approved of was killed that way.

The gargoyle has an ugly face for a very good reason. In the dark and medieval ages the church taught that people shared a world where ghosts, demons and angels roamed in the same space as humans. Some people saw these events and recorded them. churches needed to be protected so ugly faces were placed around the church to scare demons away, because the only really safe place was inside the church. People recorded incubi and succubi attacking them in their sleep as often as people today talk about alien abductions. Many of you may have had a dream where you wake up quickly and your brain has not had time switch your bodies motor controls back on. You feel as if someone or something is sitting on your chest. This is often the origin of such experiences. People really believed that the devil might appear in front of them at any time. They told tales of seeing people with hoofed feet. In one account a blacksmith was confronted by the devil. Looking down he noticed the distinctive cloven feet and took the iron he used for gripping the hot metal in his furnace and pinched the devil on his nose, The devil screamed and flew into the sky in distress, landing many miles away.

The other important idea was that illness was caused by sin and the only way to get well was to do penance and pilgrimage. In the process relieving themselves of large sums of money. There were other cures achieved by pacts with the devil by their practitioners. Hence, doctors, herbalists and scientists needed protection not to face being killed. The fear of the devil was very real in that early period of Roman Christianity. Not to forget that there were five leaders (or patriarchs) of the early church. The different churches competed for dominance and persecuted each other.

Friday 6 June 2008 - 11:42AM (BST)

 

 

The origins of the Gargoyle are believed to originate in the story of a Fierce Dragon that stalked the Seinne River, Paris.  Then in the year 600 a Saint came and slain the Dragon.  

The local people made a huge fire and threw the Dragon on, but the head was so tempered by years of breathing fire that it remained.  they dusted it off and hoisted it high on a wall.

Gargoyle were put onto churches to put the fear of God into congregations, suggesting that is what will happen to them if they do not toe the line!

This is the face of Hell, be very afraid!

 

Ram Gargoyle

The Parish church of Halifax, England, dedicated to St John the Baptist. Still soot blackened from the Industrial Revolution.

Legend has it that the church was built on the site where the head of John the Baptist was buried.

The present church building dates largely to the 15th century, parts remain from an earlier 12th century construction. The most significant remaining feature of the 12th century church is the north wall of the current church, which was the south wall of the previous church. The interior of the modern church thus clearly contains the buttresses from the exterior of the previous church. 

Thanks to...   lant_70's photostream  Pro User

 

 
The Mewlips
The Shadows where the Mewlips dwell
Are dark and wet as ink,
And slow and softly rings their bell,
As in the slime you sink.
 
You sink into the slime, who dare
To knock upon their door,
While down the Grinning Gargoyles stare
And noisome waters pour.
 
Beside the rotting river-strand
The drooping willows weep,
And gloomily the Gorcrows stand
Croaking in their sleep.
Over the Merlock Mountains a long and weary way,
In a mouldy valley where the trees are grey,
By a dark pool´s borders without wind or tide,
Moonless and sunless, the Mewlips hide.

The cellars where the Mewlips sit
Are deep and dank and cold
With single sickly candle lit;
And there they count their gold.
Their walls are wet, their ceilings drip;
Their feet upon the floor
Go softly with a squish-flap-flip,
As they sidle to the door.
They peep out slyly; through a crack
Their feeling fingers creep,
And when they´ve finished, in a sack
Your bones they take to keep.

Beyond the Merlock Mountains, a long and lonely road,
Through the spider-shadows and the marsh of Tode,
And through the wood of hanging trees and gallows-weed,
You go to find the Mewlips - and the Mewlips feed.
 
J.R.Tolkien
 

June 15, 2008 06:27 AM EDT (Updated: June 15, 2008 06:31 AM EDT)

A few years ago I bought a Gargoyle to put on one of my balconies, it wasn't Halloween.  I had gone to the Loews and seen them as garden decorations and had always loved the way they looked on Architecture so decided to take one home with me.  People have often asked me why I have them on my balconies even before I lived in my house, I used to keep them on my balcony at my condo sort of as a watchful eye for me.  I always knew that Gargoyles were placed on architecture to ward off bad spirits and decided to look for more information on them to share with you.

The history of gargoyles is really rather simple, but includes all the things that make for a fun read.  Sex, Politics and Religion.   Gargoyles hold within their stony, ugly visages aspects of pagan gods, sex with demons and the pushing of the conversion to the Catholic  Church.

Gargoyles can be found as far back as ancient Greece.  While these old stone heads served the same function as later gargoyles, the image usually resembled gods of the ancient Greeks in their animal or beast form.

Gargoyles originally served one function.  They were drain spouts for moving the rain away from the foundation of the building.  The word itself comes from the French "gargouille" which means throat or pipe.  A simple design and beginning , but as the gargoyle moved through history, it took on a political/religious purpose as well.

The Church had its own idea about how pagans entertained themselves.  Images of imps and demons having sex with devil worshippers peppered the writings of the early churchmen.  The devil was contrived as an image for Christians, not as an accurate representation of the pagan gods.  The church leaders were convinced that pagans cavorted with the incubus and succubus.

Succubus, incubus (nn.)

A succubus (plural:succubi or succubuses) is a "female demon who has sexual intercourse with a sleeping man. "Presumably the plural is rarely needed, hence the borrowed Latin plural, succubi, is more usual than the regular English one.  An Incubus is "a male demon who copulates with a sleeping woman."  Because this word is also figuratively for "nightmares, haunting dreams and visions,  the plural is fairly frequently encountered; hence the  regular English plural, incubuses. (Websters Third New International Dictionary)

In an effort to convert the heathens to the Catholic god, churches began using the gargoyles carved in images of demons, beasts and horned devils, thinking this might present the faith in a familiar and comfortable way.  Apparently it didn't work because considering the fact that pagan beliefs through the ages have had no basis in evil and devil worship.  Pagans worship a horned god of the forest.  The horns of a deer, elk or ram dominate his head.  He is the consort to the Goddess and together they created the world.  Pagans had nothing to do with the creation of the devil.

Gargoyles grace some of the most beautiful buildings and churhes in the world, now often for appearance.  Many still maintain their function as water pipes, carrying rainwater away from the building.  Many historians and architects believe that it is the presence of the beasts and demons that have saved many historic buildings.  Their protection of the foundation by moving the eroding waters may just be a contributing factor to the building's preservation.  Irony at its finest.

Despite the Church's misinterpretation of non~Christian practices; despite the fact that gargoyles grew from religious misconceptions, their stony stare and protective stance perched high atop the most graceful of structures keep them a fascination for many people.

What do you think of Gargoyles, ugly or just another pretty face?


 

rotesques & Gargoyles
Noted the below recent Blog by "Fizzog" with some amazing Gargoyle pictures:



""At the request of T-bone1, I revisited Holy Trinity Church to get some close-ups of the Grotesques and Gargoyles (use as water spouts) featured on a previous post. I also got some from King Edward VI school while I was at it.
Depending on feedback, I'll post some more, some are quite funny!"

Fizzog
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