Gargoyles are terrifying looking creatures perched on top of buildings, it’s hard to believe that they are there as protectors and guardians!
When depicted on buildings, only the spouts are referred to as Gargoyles. When a mythological creature is used for decorative purposes, they are known as a grotesque. The reason for this can be traced back to the legend of Gargouille, the first known gargoyle.
According to a French legend, Gargouille was a dragon with huge bat-like wings and a long neck. It could breathe fire and terrorized the country of Rouen, now a city in France. There are two different accounts of the story, one in which St. Romanus, the bishop of Rouen, uses a crucifix to subdue the dragon. In another, only a condemned man agrees to help him. In both accounts the dragon is burned, but the head and neck remain. It was then mounted on the walls of the church to ward off evil spirits and provide protection to people in the church. Many believe that is where the word gargoyle originated.
Many medieval architects used gargoyles in their designs as guardians of the church to keep away evil. Gargoyles can take any shape, size and form. The most common gargoyles look similar to a dragon, though some are felines, birds or chimeras. Regardless of their form, all gargoyles are protectors and will never harm anyone in any way.
Sculptures that represent living creatures can be found in numerous countries and cultures. In Celtic mythology, the Green Man is a face surrounded by or made from leaves that is used to decorate buildings. In Ancient Egyptian mythology, the Griffin was a common statue that symbolized a guardian of the divine.
Gargoyles have been depicted in various popular cultures, including the movie Gargoyles (1972) and the Disney animated television series Gargoyles (1994).
Did you know? A13,000-year-old stone crocodile Gargoyle was discovered in Turkey. Some believe it is the oldest Gargoyle.
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