The History of the Gargoyle: Architectural Significance to Ornamental Choice

Topics: Gargoyle, Grotesque, Notre Dame de Paris Pages: 4 (1026 words) Published: May 15, 2013

The History of the Gargoyle:
Architectural significance to Ornamental choice

This research paper is based on a combination of architecture and sculpture, precisely the gargoyle. The inspiration for topic was grasped from a past production paper question which requested that one create a gargoyle spout inspired by a Caribbean cultural aspect. This question deeply intrigued me, providing themes for both a sculpture piece and my research paper. This paper is seeks to present the transition from which the gargoyle progressed from an architectural figure of meaning and significance into sculpture with more decorative attributes which lost some of its initial importance.

History of the Gargoyle
The term gargoyle is most often applied to medieval work, but throughout all ages some means of water diversion, when not conveyed in gutters, was adopted. The word gargoyle was said to be derived from the French word, gargouille, meaning throat or pipe. There are multiple myths and legends to which the origin of the gargoyle is associated. It is believed that fossils of dinosaurs may have spurred the legend of the gargoyle, much the same as the dragon and the griffin. One of the less mundane but more interesting explanations included the French legend concerning St. Romain, or Romanus. He was the former chancellor of Clotaire II, a Merovingian king. It was said that he saved the country from a monster named Gargouille, or Goji, whose appearance was said to be so terrifying, it scared evil spirits away. This was why some relate the gargoyle to protection. After the monster’s defeat, the body was burned, but the head and shoulders were immune to the flames, presumably because it had been tempered by his fiery breath. The head was mounted on the walls of a newly built church to ward off evil spirits.

Architectural Significance
The dictionary defines a gargoyle as a spout, in the form of a grotesque animal or human figure that projects from...
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