Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ripoll. Santa Maria de Ripoll, Capitals, Chandelier, Alabaster, Mooning?

The old Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll was founded in 879 and completed in 1046. It has been off the beaten path, away from coastal invasion areas, but near one of the main cross-Pyrenees trade and less devastating routes.   The church is Romanesque:  stout columns, massive naves, shallow buttresses on the outside because the height was lower, less force thrusting out from the walls, windows small, portals with sculpturing, molding,  cushion or other capitals,  towers, rounded arches, all preceding the lofty Gothic.

Worn figures still show coloring from original paint, and black faces and hands are not unusual.  It interests me because of the number of Black Madonnas in Europe, some easily explained as ground mold after long burying, others not so explained.  There apparently is a tradition of the Black Jesus in Italy, recently in a nativity display in Verona, that caused some discomfort among White Christmas folk (search) and an ancient one at Lucca, see Here, see also black angel faces. What explanation?

This circular dropped chandelier is reminiscent of Barbarossa's chandelier in Aachen, Germany, possibly, see,
connections to Charlemagne, and another is at Vorden's Church, Germany, see!; when we post for Roncesvalle, I think we have a photo of a similar chandelier inside a building we could not enter, a Charlemagne-Roland memorial.

Then, eyes up for the capitals:  When we are long gone, who will know the lives we led.  These people are also gone, and we see visually the lives they led, the struggles, the battles.  Our remembrances are on transitory film, in the cloud, on photo cards, albums go in the trash as people scan grandaddy into the eternal not so much eternal machine.

Romanesque capital, is that God or Christ over Bishop and King?

Patterned cut-out ironwork, Catalan flag upended (so it appears), whose grave, Santa Maria de Ripoll, Spain. Buried here are Wilfred the Hairy, Raymon Berenguer III, Ramon Berenguer IV, Bernat Tallaferro, Count of Basalu, Radulf, Abbot of Ripoll, son of Wilfred.  Unknown location but there are, apparently, Sunifred II, Count of Barcelona (a/k/a Sunyer). Miro I, Count of Barcelona, and Ramon Berenguer I, Count of Barcelona. 

On closer look, this looks like an animal head, and a tail.  Help out here.  What is this? 

And the capitals continue to show ordinary people, here one with a distinctly Phrygian Cap, the pullover cap with excess fabric pulled forward .. 

Eyes down now.  Watch for the bases of fine capitals, this at the base of some fine red marble: animals ferocious, great tails. 

Portals are fabulous -- an entire blog could examine the extent of these carvings.  Here, we like the carvings, but focus also on the ironwork, the swirl, curl pattern, almost Celtic. There is a rosette shape at the top. These were not just decorative: this kind of ironwork held the thick slats of the doors together against invasion, at least for a while under stress.

Behind this capital is an original alabaster window, some light makes its way through the translucency.

This capital appears to show a king, with crown and sceptre, but -- look closely -- is he being mooned?  

This would not be unusual, as the practice was well entrenched by the middle ages, see  Find mooners in Germany, at!; and at the Sistine Chapel, above the altar, ceiling, search for images -- God dividing night from day.  There you are.Divine moon.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ripoll. Wilfred the Hairy. Santa Maria de Ripoll, Monastery

Visit Saint Mary of Ripoll and learn of early customs, naming people for a later-acquired attribute such as hirsute-ness.  These communicated visual and behavioral clues to the person that a mere "son of" or "daughter of" or "out of" does not.  Mourn. Catalonia was not alone.  See a flowering of names that meant something in the Icelandic Sagas,, where one meets after the year 1010 (why then?), random sampling:  Gunnlaug Snake-tongue, Sygtrygg Silkbeard, Magnus Bareleg (a variation on the hirsutity?) , Olaf Tarry-cheek (?), Runolf Turncoat.

So, Wilfred the Hairy was the founder of this monastery in 888 CE, Santa Maria de Ripoll, and it has had a continuous history, including rebuildings, since then.  It retains much of its old character.  Wilfred was a Count of Barcelona, of the old Catalunya.  When he returned to claim his betrothed after a long absence, his mother recognized him because, according to,
he had hair where others did, and should, not. Soles of feet? Beardorama? Either way,  Franks had taken over his throne, and with the recognition, he mustered his peeps and claimed his throne successfully. He then overcame the Moors, the Saracens at Barcelona, killed a dragon (these are not so fictitious, see four-winged birds at, are they?  see cultural references globally -- Dragons Around the World at and they do need to be vanquished.

We missed his statue, said to be at Carrer dels Comtes, to the left of the portal de Saint Iu. Wilfred slew the dragon without armor.

Catalan flag.  He also gave Catalonia its flag, see story-tale, the four bars, the Quatre Barres, that are also on the grave of Ramon Berengeur II. See 

Sant Iu.  There is a Sant Ivo from Breton, 1200's.  That one?