Habanic Ceramics Made by Those ‘Who Baptize again’.

Tin-glazed faience vessels, often decorated with colorful painting decorations, occurring in the greatest number in Moravia, Slovakia, but also in Switzerland, Tirol and Transylvania, roughly from the mid-sixteenth century to the beginning of the eighteenth century. The vessels and utensils were made by wandering craftsmen of the Anabaptist sect who were harshly persecuted and usually driven out of the countries because of their radical religious beliefs.

Modra ceramics. Photo by Zuzana Tomčalová (2012). CC BY-SA 3.0. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Ceramika z Modrej” (2020) In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia.

“Anabaptism […] is a Christian movement which traces its origins to the Radical Reformation. […] The movement is seen by outsiders as another offshoot of Protestantism, although this view is not shared by Anabaptists, who view themselves as a separate branch of Christianity. […] The name Anabaptist means ‘one who baptizes again’, [which refers to their beliefs] that baptism is valid only when candidates freely confess their faith in Christ and request to be baptized. This believer’s baptism is opposed to baptism of infants, who are not able to make a conscious decision to be baptized” (“Anababtism” 2021).

The Habanic pottery made by Anabaptists was usually spherical and melon-shaped but polygonal apothecary bottles, plates and platters were also manufactured. In the painting decoration, cobalt or colorful floral motifs were applied. Such an ornamentation seem to be a folk version of plant painting decorations used on Italian Majolica.

Featured image: Pottery from a small factory in Modra, Slovakia. In the seventeeth century, the first potters’ guilds began to appear in Modra (the first one was established in 1636). Among them, there were potters from the Anabaptist sects who came from Switzerland, and who made the so-called Habanic ceramics. Photo by Limojoe (2013). CC BY-SA 3.0. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Ceramika z Modrej” (2020) In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Anababtism” (2021) In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/2N5baFX>. [Accessed on 9th February, 2021].

“Ceramika z Modrej” (2020) In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3rCRvMs>. [Accessed on 9th February, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 145. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Dadaism – an International Movement for Radical Artistic Revolt

The movement was initiated in 1915 by European and American artists and writers. In 1916, during the First World War, an international artistic group was formed in Zurich (Switzerland), including Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, Hugo Ball, Richard Huelsenbeck, Hans Arp and others. Cabaret Voltaire became the group’s first headquarters. It was there that the word ‘dada’ was coined for the first time, which was later adopted to denote the entire movement.

Dadaism was a spontaneous protest against the reality: against bloody war, hypocrisy of bourgeois systems, an empty phraseology and a commercialization of art. Its main feature was an anti-racialist and anti-aesthetic attitude and a strong negation of the existing forms of social life and culture resulting from the feeling of the collapse of civilization. In the fight against this cruel world, the Dadaists put forward slogans of an anarchy, a total negation and a drastic mockery. In their actions, an extreme individualism, unbridled fantasy and ingenuity emerged. The hoax, an arranged ‘accident’, provocations and the desire to cause a scandal were to directly affect the viewer and to force them to act.

Grand opening of the first Dada exhibition: International Dada Fair, Berlin, 5 June 1920. The central figure hanging from the ceiling was an effigy of a German officer with a pig’s head. From left to right: Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch (sitting), Otto Burchard, Johannes Baader, Wieland Herzfelde, Margarete Herzfelde, Dr. Oz (Otto Schmalhausen), George Grosz and John Heartfield. Anonymous author (1920). Public domain. Photo and caption source: “Dada” (2021). Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

The Swiss group of Dadaists developed a lively and multidirectional activity. From 1917, art exhibitions, lectures and Dada evenings were organized. In 1917, two issues of the Dada periodical were also published, and in 1919, Der Zeltweg was printed. In 1918, Francis Picabia came to Europe; he largely contributed to the bonding of individual Dadaist groups. In Berlin, where some symptoms of Dadaism appeared as early as in 1916, the Dadaists were directly involved in political struggle, which was favoured by the atmosphere of the revolution. The Dada club was established there, together with many ephemeral magazines and other publications, such as Der blutige Ernst, Hedermann sein eigner Fussball. Additionally, the Almanach Dada (1920) was published and exhibitions were organized, among which there was the First International Dada Fair (1920). Johannes Baader, Richard Huelsenbeck, Jhon Heartfield, George Grosz, Hannah Höch, Raoul Hausmann, Hand Richter and Rudolf Schlichter were active there.

Kurt Schwitters, the founder of Merz-paintings, developed a very individual variety of Dadaism in Hanover. Another important center of German Dadaism was Cologne, which was then occupied by the French. This was the field of activity of Max Ernst, Hans Arp and Johannes Theodor Baargeld. The journals Der Ventilator and Die Schammade were published there. An exhibition at Winter’s beer hall (1920) ended in a scandal and was finally closed by the police. In 1922 Max Ernst left for Paris and the group of the Dadaists ceased to exist. Consequently, most of the old ‘dada’ members joined the Surrealist movement, whose main center was established in Paris.

Feature image: Dada artists, group photograph, 1920, Paris. From left to right, Back row: Louis Aragon, Theodore Fraenkel, Paul Eluard, Clément Pansaers, Emmanuel Fay (cut off). Second row: Paul Dermée, Philippe Soupault, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes. Front row: Tristan Tzara (with monocle), Celine Arnauld, Francis Picabia, André Breton. hAnonymous authot (1920). Anonymous – Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tongarewa). Public domain. Photo and caption source: “Dada” (2021). Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Dadaizm” (2020). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3ultzzk>. [Accessed 22nd February, 2021].

“Dada” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/2NSzqeH>. [Accessed 22nd February, 2021].

Barucki T. et al. (2009). “Dadaism”. In: Sztuka świata. Leksykon A-K, tom 12. [Historia del Arte, vol. 12], p. 175. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Arkady.

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 82. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

‘Globus cruciger’ in the Hands of Monarchs

From Latin ‘cross-bearing orb’ or ‘the orb and cross” is an orb (globus) surmounted by a cross. Together with a sceptre, the globe-shaped insignia with the cross on top constitute royal regalia; “[the cross represents Christ’s dominion over the orb of the world, literally held in the hand of an earthly ruler” (“Globus cruciger” 2021).

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, c.1500. Reproduction of the painting after restoration by Dianne Dwyer Modestini, a research professor at New York University. Getty Images. Public domain. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Salvator Mundi (Leonardo)” (2021) In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

As a matter of fact, the globe as the insignia first appears in ancient Rome on the coins of Augustus the Second (first century AD.), where the top of the globe was crowned with a statue of the goddess of victory, Nike. From Rome, the custom of using the ‘globus’ spread to Byzantium, and then it was adopted in all royal monarchies of Europe. In Christianity, the goddess of victory was gradually replaced with a cross, usually the Greek one with equal arms. Nevertheless, the pagan symbol is still present after the Edict of Milan in 313. In Poland, the royal apple was probably known from the beginning of the thirteenth century.

It has been a Christian symbol of authority since the Middle Ages, used on coins and in Christian iconography as a symbol of royal power; it is held in the left hand of Jesus Christ the King or Mary the Queen of Heaven. One of the most famous images of Christ as the King of the World wielding the royal apple was painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the Renaissance; it is widely known as Salvator Mundi (circa 1500) and depicts the royal apple as the ‘celestial sphere’ of the heavens.

Featured image: The globus cruciger was used in the Byzantine Empire, as shown in this coin of Emperor Leontius (d. 705). Photo by Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. (2005). CC BY-SA 3.0. Colours intensified. Image enlarged. Photo source: “Globus cruciger” (2021) In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Globus cruciger” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3q9FePm>. [Accessed on 9th February, 2021].

Salvator Mundi (Leonardo)” (2021) In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3rCADWh>. [Accessed on 9th February, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 164. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Factory – ‘Craft Workshop’ and the Process of Building.

From Latin: fabrica ‘craft workshop’.

In medieval and modern documents, and sometimes in professional literature, the term specifying the process of construction, reconstruction or renovation, together with all the equipment needed for it, such as material stocks, staff of employees (architects, craftsmen, helpers, administration), along with the organizational and financial side of the whole project.

There are different types of this type of the process, depending on the type of building being erected. There are thus fabrica ecclesiae (the process of building a church), fabricca palatii (the process of building a palace).

Featured image: La Sagrada Familia in the process of its construction, c. 1915. Photo uploaded by Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia (2013). CC BY-SA 3.0. Photo source: “Sagrada Família” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Sagrada Família” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3aiTpuK>. [Accessed 11th July, 2018].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 108. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Images of the ‘Infancy Gospels’ on Medieval Clay Tiles

Once again I found myself among the finest artefacts gathered by the British Museum; I felt as if I had been in the middle of piled or scattered volumes, surrounding me and calling for being opened and read. Walking up and down between all the museal objects, without paying them enough attention, would be like skipping pages of those books and missing their stories. It is worth thus choosing one and read it from cover to cover.

Room 40 in the British Museum

At that time, the Room 40 of the Medieval Europe galleries was my destination for homework; I was studying one of the core modules of Medieval Cultures at Birkbeck College and was analysing medieval artefacts preserved by the Museum for the following class. There were just few people around so I decided to squat on the floor and making my notes in front of ‘my homework’. Those were eight red clay tiles resembling large domino blocks of 33 centimetres long and 16 centimetres wide, but without black dots (The British Museum I 2021).

Instead, there were intriguing medieval representations of apocrypha scenes related to the unknown events of Jesus Christ’s lifetime, which is not recorded in the canonical Bible (Robinson et al. 2008:118; Casey 2007:1). Such artistic documents do not only seem uncommon in traditional representations of the Christ but may be also provocative in their interpretations (Casey 2007:1). First of all, the official image of Jesus known from the writings and art stand here in sharp contrast to the illustration of Christ provided by the tiles, especially because they depict and regard Him as a Child at the age between five and twelve (Ibid.:1). Such images, however, do not belong to a canonical tradition of the Gospels but are taken possibly from the anonymous second century’s Apocryphal Infancy of Christ Gospels, translated into art in the form of the earthenware rectangular tiles in the fourteenth century AD., precisely circa 1330 (Casey 2007:1; The British Museum I 2021).

Biblical story of the Child Jesus

The four Gospels written by tradition by the Evangelists, Saint Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the only recognized source of Christ’s life and ministry (Robinson et al. 2008:118).

Nazareth as depicted on a Byzantine mosaic (Chora Church, Constantinople) (created between 1315-1320). Meister der Kahriye-Cami-Kirche in Istanbul – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202. Public domain. Colours intensified, Image source: “Nazareth” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.
Marble sculpture of “Christ as the Teacher” (Cristo docente) by anonymous early Christian Roman sculptor (the fourth century AD.) Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome. Photo source: Weitzmann, K., ed. (1979). “Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century:”, p. 524; statue: 469. In: MET Publications.

According to the Evangelists, Saint Luke and Saint Matthew, the Holy Family, after their stay in Egypt, returned to Nazareth in Galilee (Rops 1944:109). Little Christ’s homeland was just that little town, white and green, situated on the slope of the rolling hills that enclose the Jezreel Valley to the north (Ibid.:111). The streets and houses of Nazareth are like all the streets and houses of the East (Ibid.:111). The city is only distinguished by the number of its churches, monasteries and bell towers; it is surrounded by a semi-circle of gently rolling hills dotted with villages with houses made of white clay (Rops 1944:111). Among the olives, the vineyards and grain fields, bullets of black cypress trees shoot up into the sky (Ibid.:111). The gardens of Nazareth are full of lilies and verbenas, and on many walls of its houses, juicy flowers of bougainvillea spread their covers in the colour of episcopal purple (Ibid.:111). It was in this environment that Jesus the Child grew up (Ibid.:111). However, one should not imagine him under the very graceful figure represented by a late antique statue from the fourth century, known as Jesus the Teacher, preserved in the National Museum of Baths of Diocletian in Rome: he is represented there too calm, too well-mannered, and hieratic in his long pleated tunic (Ibid.:111). Rather, it should be assumed that little Jesus looked like one of those lively, nervous kids that one still meets on the roads of Palestine, lightly dressed, barefoot, with an expression of great intelligence on passionate and serious faces (Ibid.:111).

The House of the Holy Family

The life of the Holy Family, whose secrets so many painters wanted to represent, was passing in one of the modest houses of Nazareth, one of those that can still be seen today (Rops 1944:111). There is usually only one room inside them; there is a sweet smell of oil in the air; smoke from the fire often comes out only through the door; in the evening, a clay lamp placed on an iron candle, or on a stone protruding from the wall, casts a dim light (Ibid.:111).

In the modern town of Nazareth, there are plenty of monuments ascribed to the times of Christ Child: the Basilica of Annunciation with said remains of the house of the Virgin Mary, the Mary’s Well or Joseph’s workshop. Based on various archaeological excavations, it is assumed the Holy Family’s house looked like the one in which the Archangel Gabriel announced Mary she would conceive and bear the Son of God (today overbuilt with the walls of the Basilica of the Annunciation); it was probably largely underground, embedded in the soft local limestone; God’s Child was to walk up its rather primitive stairs, in the contemporary Basilica, they are today decorated with mosaics (Rops 1944:111-112).

Bejt-haseter

Jesus received the education that all young Israelites received; it seems that at that time there were whole cycles of studies described by the Talmud (Rops 1944:112). They were dependent on the synagogue, and they were led by a hassan, someone like a sacristan, perhaps the administrator of a venerable place, where the faithful gathered (Ibid.:112). In the bejt-haseter, an elementary school, boys, sitting around the great scroll of the Law, repeated the verses of the Torah in chorus until they had memorized them perfectly (Ibid.:112).

Probably, the adolescent Jesus did not pursue further studies in one of the rabbinical schools that existed near Nazareth (Ibid.:112). This assumption is supported by an openly expressed amazement of Jesus’ family members and acquaintances who heard his wise preaching in God’s matters (Ibid.:112).

Finding in the Temple

Jesus, therefore, grew up in Nazareth living in a modest house with his mother and adoptive father, Joseph, and after his death, He lived in the company of numerous cousins (Rops 1944:113). The canonical messages regarding this period are limited (Ibid.:113): “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him” (Luke 2:40). And only one episode of this time is known from the Bible; namely, the one that happened in the twelfth year of Jesus’ life, when a young Jew was becoming a man and a “son” of the Law (Ibid.:113).

Christ among the Doctors, c. 1560, by Paolo Veronese. Public domain. Colours intensified. Painting source: “Finding in the Temple” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

The event in question is the famous scene from the Temple; Mary and Joseph, as devout Jews, went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover (Rops 1944:113). Perhaps for the first time they took the Son with them (Ibid.:113). In the evening of the first day of their journey back, Joseph and Mary were looking for Jesus among their friends and relatives (Ibid.:114). They did not him all day, but assumed that he had joined some group of relatives or friends (Ibid.:114). Extremely worried, they returned to Jerusalem and it took them three days to finally find Him in the Temple (Ibid.:114). In its cloisters, surrounded by a circle of students, the wise men taught; the children squeezed into the crowd of listeners and were sometimes allowed to ask questions (Ibid.:114).

The twelve-year-old Jesus, however, was not among the listeners but sat among the wise men of Israel (Rops 1944:114), and “[everyone] who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:47). “When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you ‘.’ Why were you searching for me? ‘ [Jesus] asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ “(Luke 2: 48-49). Jesus’ words show that He is fully aware of his mission. There is also the teaching of the Gospel that whoever wants to follow Christ must sever all human ties and bonds (Ibid.:114).

‘Unofficial’ God’s life

This one and only event in Jesus’ childhood, described in detail in the Bible, though so eloquent, has not satisfied yet the curiosity of the crowds since the first centuries of Christianity through the Middle Ages to the present day (Rops 1944:114).

New Testament Apocrypha. First page of the Gospel of Judas (Page 33 of Codex Tchacos). Uploaded by WolfgangRieger (2009).”The Gospel of Judas. Critical Edition”. Washington 2007. Public domain. Photo source: “Infancy gospels” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

There are yet other ancient records of Christ’s life but apocryphal, that is to say officially rejected from the standard Bible, though not sanctioned by the Church (Robinson et al. 2008:118). “In everyday conversation ‘apocryphal’ refers to a story of doubtful authenticity, but one that is nevertheless told frequently, perhaps even believed widely. The New Testament apocrypha are books accepted by neither Catholic nor Protestant faiths, although artists and theologians have used them as sources of information and ideas” (Austin “Footnote” Date unknown).  Especially in the Middle Ages, the apocrypha was used to elaborate on gaps in the Gospel stories, which were thought fairly sparse in details about the life of Christ (Robinson et al. 2008:118; see Casey 2007; Austin Date unknown). “Apocryphal stories, [such as the one] based on the dream of Pilate’s wife, […] or of the forging of the nails for Christ’s crucifixion were [therefore] incorporated into medieval mystery plays and were an integral part of the imaginative religious experience” (Robinson et al. 2008:118). The light and colour used in the art of churches and cathedrals additionally embellished the words heard from priests during their homilies; by various artistic expressions, people who everyday experienced poor and hard conditions, could admire the splendour and dignity of the image of the mighty and omnipresent God who yet became Man and suffered for the sins of mankind. At the time, when Biblical stories were accessed in paintings and sculpture for the illiterate populace, their main characters were treated similarly to modern celebrities, and like today, common people wished to know more details about their lives than the official version of the Church was able to offer.

Jesus between His years five and twelve

“One of the most frustrating  absences in the Gospels is the early years of Christ’s life, [that id to say when He is between five and twelve. In the Bible, “Christ is encountered as an infant and then later as an adolescent disputing with the doctors of the law in the Temple but no mention is made of His upbringing or his relationship with his parents” (Robinson et al. 2008:118).

Nazareth,1842. In the Holy Land Book. Image by David Roberts. Public domain. Photo source: “Christ Child” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

In the eyes of contemporary people, this gap had successfully been complemented by the apocryphal Infancy Gospels, believed to have been written anonymously by early Christians from the second century AD., who imaginatively tried to create their own fictional version of what Jesus’ childhood might have been like (Casey 2007:3). Yet these imaginary pictures were quite successfully interwoven with the canonical portrayal of Jesus’ life (Ibid.:3-4). Simultaneously, the apocrypha author built up the stories around their own experiences in the process of the development of Christianity (Ibid.:3; see Elliott ed. 2005).

Anecdotes about the Christ’s Childhood

Surely, the Infancy Gospels had circulated in oral tradition before a series of their written compilations appeared (Casey 2007:4). From the very beginning, however, all of them shared several cohesive narrative elements (Ibid.:4). Central to this genre is the Gospel of Thomas dating back to the second century (Ibid.:4). It “describes the doings of Jesus during his boyhood, no record of which exists in the canonical gospels.  According to Thomas, Jesus proved to be an infant prodigy at school, instructing his teachers in the unsuspected mysteries of the alphabet and astonishing his family and friends by the miracles that he performed” (Austin “Footnote” Date unknown). The Infancy Gospels tell a lot of different anecdotes about this unknown period of Christ’ childhood (Rops 1944:114-115). Some of them are famous and charming; Jesus, playing with His companions, makes birds out of clay, and then gives them life, and when He claps his hands, the wonderful creatures start flying in the air (Ibid.:115). Jesus is also playing with the other children at the entrance to the grotto, and then suddenly two huge snakes come out of it; the joyful flock runs away screaming, only Jesus remains and calmly orders the dangerous beasts to place their heads under the feet of His Mother, Mary (Ibid.:115).

Jesus (on the right) animating the clay bird toys of his playmates. Klosterneuburger Evangelienwerk, Germania, 14th century. Public domain. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Nazareth” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

The Apocrypha also attributes many miracles to Christ Child (Rops 1944:115). Many of them are modelled on the miracles of the canonical Gospels; they tell that one seed Child Jesus planted is enough to feed an entire city in times of famine (Ibid.:115). Another time, the Apocrypha depict the young worker who is resurrected by Christ (Ibid.:115). Other miracles are rather magical; Jesus, riding the mule, turns the spell on him and the animal becomes a beautiful youth again (Ibid.:115). Another miracle tells that as the little Christ calls out, the salted fish begins to roll and flutter (Ibid.:115). Another time at school, when a teacher starts teaching Jesus the alphabet, the Child proves that he can do it, even though he has not learned it before (Ibid.:115).

Other apocryphal miracles can seem utterly repulsive while being attributed to the Son of God; when the same teacher wants to punish his rebellious Student, he sees at once that his hand is withered (Rops 1944:115). In turn, to show off His power to His playmates, Jesus turns one of them into a ram, another, who poked Him, becomes stroke dead (Ibid.:115).

Apocrypha in art

In the eighth or ninth centuries, the Gospel of Thomas was furthermore compiled with the Protevangelium of James, including the Apocrypha of the Virgin Mary (Casey 2007:4).  As such, it formed the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (Ibid.:4; see Elliott ed. 2005). And when the cult of the Virgin Mary had grown since the twelfth century, an interest in her Parents’ lives and the Holy Family with the Christ Child in the center also raised, and so did the interest in the Apocrypha, which was mainly reflected through art in the whole Christian world (Robinson et al. 2008:118). As such all these, more or less known apocryphal fairy tales served especially as a source of inspiration for the painters and sculptors of the Middle Ages; paintings and mosaics of small churches and images of Gothic cathedrals are full of memories of these Christian legends (Rops 1944:115).

Saint Anne ( circa ninth century AD). Nubian wall painting. By unknown author. The National Museum in Warsaw. Public domain. Source: “Saint Anne (wall painting)” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

It is enough to mention a set of wall paintings created inside the Nubian church of Faras, with the representations known ultimately from the Apocrypha. Among them, there is the eight century’s famous representation of the Virgin Mary’s Mother, Saint Anne with her mysterious gesture of pointing her index finger to the lips (see: Saint Anne of Nubia – “it will make you speechless”.). “Scenes such as these are [also] depicted in the [fourteenth century’s] Tring Tiles” (Austin “Footnote” Date unknown).

Medieval apocryphal writings

With the late twelfth century, an increased fascinations with the humanity of the Christ, especially with His childhood, had further inspired the creation of a large number of manuscripts, which mainly originated from the writings of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, many of which were written in vernacular languages (Casey 2007:4). Such extensive compilation of the Infancy stories, along with the French manuscript Bodleian MS. Selden Supra 38.8 (circa 1325), combined of the Anglo-Norman manuscript, Les Enfaunces de Jesu Crist and an Apocalypse manuscript, were apparently the foundations of the now lost model for the Tring Tiles (Ibid.:4-5). Although the Bodleian MS. Selden Supra 38.8 is the most complete medieval illuminated manuscript with the Infancy Gospel stories, its illustrated simple and miniature figures significantly vary with the style of highly expressive and highly caricatured images on the Tring Tiles (Ibid.:5).

Red clay tiles

The Tring Tiles, ceramic pieces of 3,5 centimetres in thickness, were made in the technique known as sgraffito, an expensive hand-worked process popular especially in France (The British Museum I 2021; Austin Date unknown), which involves “decorating ceramics [where] a substrate, usually ‘slip’, is incised to reveal the contrasting ground underneath” (The British Museum I 2021). Obtained in this way slip-decorated designs on the tiles were additionally lead-glazed (Ibid.). The group of tiles was uncovered during the late Victorian (the mid-nineteenth century) restoration of Tring Parish Church in Hertfordshire, which has given the tiles its name (Casey 2007:7; Austin Date unknown).

Four of the Tring Tiles preserved by the British Museum; Room 40 in the Medieval Gallery. Image cropped and colours intensified.. Photo source: Priory Tiles (2021). “The Tring Tiles”. In: Priory Tiles.

“Although the tiles were, for the most part, found in a curiosity shop in Tring” (Munday 2018), it is not sure if they had originally been laid down in the church or only preserved or applied there after being moved from elsewhere, even from abroad (Austin Date unknown; Munday 2018). “More research into the origins of the tiles needs to be done, for the mystery is still far from solved” (Ibid.). Nevertheless, “the peculiar character of their sgraffito design, may suggest that they were produced in the east of England, where this technique was popular on pottery” (British Museum II 2021).

Having been found, the tiles were continuously passed through many hands before achieving their final place: nowadays, ten complete tiles and a few fragments are known, of which the eight are preserved in the British Museum and the two, saved by a local resident, are displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum (The British Museum I 2021; Casey 2007:7-8; Austin Date unknown).

Still their number is not complete; the tiles must have been part of a much larger scheme, unfortunately now lost (Robinson et al. 2008:118). Their condition is surprisingly good, and for this reason, it is believed that the tiles had never been walked on in a pavement of the church floor but were possibly used as a frieze set on the walls of the chancel (Austin Date unknown; the British Museum I 2021). What message were they to convey?

Featured image: The Wedding Feast at Cana (Fig.4), represented in one of the Tring Tiles. First quarter of the fourteenth century, England. The British Museum; Room 40 of the Medieval Galleries. Image cropped. Photo source: Wendy Austin (Date unknown; accessed on 23rd January, 2021). The Mystery of the Tring Tiles.

By Joanna
Faculties of English Philology, History of Art and Archaeology;
University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland;
Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland;
University College Dublin, Ireland.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Saint Anne (wall painting)” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/2KS743c>. [Accessed 27th January, 2021].

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Austin W. (Date unknown). The Mystery of the Tring Tiles. Available at <https://bit.ly/3iEdbol>. [Accessed 23rd January, 2021].

Casey M. F. (2007). “The Fourteenth-Century Tring Tiles: A Fresh Look at Their Origin and the Hebraic Aspects of the Child Jesus’ Actions”. In: Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art and Architecture, Vol. 2, Issue 2, pp. 1-53. Available at <https://digital.kenyon.edu/perejournal/vol2/iss2/1>. [Accessed 22nd January, 2021].

Elliott J. K. ed. (2005). The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation Based on M. R. James, pp. 88-99. Oxford University Press.

Munday A. (2018). “The British Museum in Thirteen Objects – The Tring Tiles”. In: A Writer’s Perspective. Available at <https://bit.ly/39VmJY9>. [Accessed 23rd January, 2021].

Priory Tiles (2021). “The Tring Tiles”. In: Priory Tiles. Available at <https://bit.ly/2NvIeaf>. [Accessed 27th January, 2021].

Robinson et al. (2008). “The Tring Tiles”. In: Masterpieces. Medieval Art. pp. 118-119. London: The British Museum Press.

Rops D. (1944). Dzieje Chrystusa [Histoire Sainte – Jesus et Son Temps]. Starowiejska-Morstinowa Z. trans. Warszawa: Instytut Wydawniczy Pax.

The British Museum by means of Google Arts&Culture (2021). “Take a Virtual Tour in the Room 40; Medieval Europe AD 1050–1500; The Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery”. Available at <https://bit.ly/2Mci0Jw>. [Accessed 23rd January, 2021].

The British Museum I (2021). “The Tring Tiles; museum number 1922,0412.1.CR.” In: The British Museum. Available at <https://bit.ly/399gSiO>. [Accessed 22nd January, 2021].

Weitzmann K., ed. (1979). “Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century: Catalogue of the Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, November 19, 1977 through February 12, 1978.”, p. 524; statue: 469. Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.). In: MET Publications. Available at <https://bit.ly/2KTpjFB>. [Accessed 27th January, 2021].

Ébéniste – a Loanword from French

From French: ébéniste; from Greek: ébenos ‘heban’.

A cabinet-maker, particularly one who works in ebony, a favoured luxury wood, mainly for Parisian cabinets; he is also considered as a carpenter-artist, making veneered, inlaid and inlay furniture. In the sixteenth century in France, a craftsman making ebony inlays on furniture. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a carpenter – artist, unlike a a woodcarver, called in French a menuisier, who makes free-standing furniture.

Featured image: Work of an ébéniste. Photo by Georges-Alphonse Jacob-Desmalter (French, 1799–1870) – Uploaded by Loicwood 2009. CC BY-SA 2.5. Photo cropped. Photo source: “Ebenista” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Ebenista” (2020). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3coBllD>. [Accessed 31st January, 2021].

“Ébéniste” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3aiG0Tq>. [Accessed 31st January, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 97. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Chaitya (Ćajtja) – Sculpted Abyss of the Caves

A type of Indian temple, mainly Buddhist, in the form of an elongated rectangular hall, divided by rows of pillars (Bhaja) or columns (Ajanta) into the main nave with a semi-circular apse, where the reliquary in the form of a stupa rises; it replaces the altar typical of the time of Ashoka (Aśoka) (circa 268 – 232 BC.). Two lower (side) aisles are composed of standing in one row pillars, primarily carved without capitals or bases (Bhaja), creating a circuit (ambit) around the stupa in the apse. The pillars/columns equally play a constructional function by supporting the mass of the barrel vault of the carved temple, which is decorated with ribs of arched timber beams.

Karli Chaitya section in perspective. Drawing of the “Great Chaitya” at the Karla Caves, when built, in about 120 AD. Photo from Percy Brown (1872-1955) – Indian Architecture, Buddhist and Hindu, published in 1956 Bombay, India (1955). Public domain. Drawing source: “Chaitya” (2018). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Structures of this type are very monumental and decoratively sculpted and painted. The same model was repeated in a free standing temples of rectangular layout. In the rock-cut temples, the highly elaborated stonework is also visible in its façade, which creates a massive entrance; it opens to the outside of the rock with a horseshoe-shaped opening, also forming a kind of eaves. The stone facade happens to be richly sculpted and always closely imitates wooden elements of contemporary buildings both, inside and outside the temple; at the entrance there is a porch with a large ogee window, known as kudu or gavaksha, and a gallery comprised of balustrades forming balconies and blind lucarnes (dormer windows) with lattice railings.

Development of the Chaitya arch. Development of the chaitya arch from the Lomas Rishi Cave on, from a book by Percy Brown. Photo from Percy Brown (1872-1955) – Indian Architecture (Buddhist and Hindu). First published in India in 1900. (1955). Public domain. Drawing source: “Chaitya” (2018). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

According to Percy Brown, the prototype of Chaitya is to be found in sanctuaries belonging to the Ajivika sect associated with Jainism and Vaishnavism. Chaitya temples were carved in rock or built as free-standing constructions of stone, brick or wood. The wooden chaityas are known only from excavations, due to the perishable material. However, rock-cut temples with some wooden elements, which had been created since the third century BC., can be still found in Karla, Ajanta, Bhaja and Ellora caves. Yet, the actual date of the appearance of such temples is debatable and some scholars move it forwards in time to the first century BC. Since the first century AD. this type of temples had still developed, gradually enriching itself with new elements and ornaments, the evolution of which had continued until about the sixth century AD.

Featured image: Timber ribs on the roof at the Karla Caves; the umbrella over the stupa is also made of wood. Photo by Vatsalbhawsinka (2017). CC BY-SA 4.0. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Chaitya” (2018). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Chaitya” (2018). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3oC2R1k>. [Accessed 30th January, 2021].

Auboyer J. (1975) Sztuka Indii [Les arts de l’Indes et des pays indianisés], pp. 56-57. Krzywicki J. trans. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Artystyczne i Filmowe.

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 80. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Cab – a Shortening of Cabriolet in the Nineteenth Century

A type of fly, quick and light one-horse drawn carriage. It features a closed square box in a square frame with two wheels as high as the vehicle. Inside the cab, there was enough space for two, up to three passengers (if squeezed).

A hansom cab, London, 1877. Photo from 1877: John Thomson (1837-1921) – London Cabmen Uploaded by Fæ. Public domain. Photo source:“Hansom cab” (2020). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

They were protected by a high hood separating them from the driver operating the vehicle from a high sprung seat behind the body. The passengers could communicate with the driver through a trap door near the rear of the roof. The cab could be either open or closed; except from the hood, the passengers were additionally protected from the elements by folding wooden doors that enclosed their feet and legs, protecting their clothes from splashing mud.

The cab was introduced in England in the 1830s and was used as a carriage until the beginning of the twentieth century. It was designed and patented by Joseph Hansom, an architect from York. Hence the carriage was originally called hansom-cab.

Hansom cab and driver in a movie set in 1903 London. Photo by Andrew Dunn (2004). CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo source: “Hansom cab” (2020). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Featured image: Specification drawings for Hansom’s patent cab 1834. It was for one passenger protected by a high hood which separated them from the driver at his side and had a square body in a square frame with wheels as high as the vehicle. Internet Archive Book Images: “Social England : a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day Year: 1901 (1900s)”. Authors: Traill, H. D. (Henry Duff), 1842-1900 Mann, James Saumarez, Publisher: New York: Putnam Contributing Library: University of California Libraries. No restrictions. Image cropped. Drawing source: “Hansom cab” (2020). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

“Hansom cab” (2020). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/39zZfZH>. [Accessed 30th January, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 57. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.