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Gargoyle Bookends as Part of Mythology and Architecture

Jan 8, 2008
Gargoyles are most commonly associated with medieval lore but their use as architectural figures dates back to earlier times. Often seen as fierce looking faces, gargoyles are also seen as full figure characters. Gargoyle bookends are a reflection of the history and mythology that continues to fuel modern interest in unique nature of these unusual figures.

Gargoyles have been part of architecture since the heyday of the ancient Greek and Egyptian empires. Though gargoyles often have a fearsome appearance, their use is thought to be far more benevolent. The power to ward off evil spirits is a significant part of the mythological explanation surrounding gargoyles. Hellenic or Greek gargoyles are very often seen as happy or jolly characters and were a part of many public buildings. They could be seen mounted on the parapets of buildings or spewing water as part of a public fountain. Outcroppings on the facade of a building may have been used especially for gargoyles.

Many of these figures took the shape of animals, especially reptiles. Often dragon like in appearance, their gaze was usually facing down from the structure. In mythology and lore, dragons were thought to be the guardians of sacred places or great treasure troves. This contrasts with the more popular view of dragons as fierce and fire breathing creatures. Other animals such as birds of prey or the mythical Roc were the inspiration for many gargoyle figures.

Many styles of gargoyle bookends replicate these unique creatures. Gargoyle replicas are one of the most collectible types of bookends and statuary. Fans of Gothic architecture and lore are particularly drawn to gargoyle collecting. The history of the gargoyle even includes their use in religious settings, as adornments to some of the worlds great churches and cathedrals. The cathedral at Notre Dame in France is home to many gargoyle figures.

The history and lore of the gargoyle figures takes many forms. Gargoyles and gargoyle bookends may represent combinations of human and animal forms sometimes taking on the appearance of hooded monks and friars. Just as they may be used to ward off evil, they were thought to have other uses. Avoiding the wages of sin can be a powerful force used to keep people from straying into a life of eternal damnation. It is thought by some historians that gargoyles may have been placed in prominent view to remind people that Satan, or other supposed forces of evil, were all about and should be avoided.

Since many gargoyles appear with wings, they may very well have been the inspiration for the flying monkey characters seen in the movie the Wizard of Oz. Many dragons of myth were often depicted with wings and were though to be capable of flight, reflecting the myth of flying gargoyles. From the funny to the frightening, many other modern day film and cartoon monsters have been patterned from these legendary winged figures.

Whether collectors of gargoyle bookends are seeking redemption is certainly open to debate. Gargoyles do appear in many pieces of medieval artwork. They can often be quite scary in appearance and could be used to frighten away superstitious people. Given the wide variety of gargoyle shapes, many collectors may have more of an artistic motivation to maintaining their collections.

In addition to collectible bookends, today gargoyle figures stand vigil as yard ornaments, water fountains and various types of outdoor statuary. Even though warding off evil spirits may not be in your decorating plans, some interior design schemes benefit from the addition of gargoyles. Gargoyle bookends make the perfect the perfect gift for fans of medieval mythology and religious history.
About the Author
Mitch Endick is a short article writer for the popular decorative bookend site:
http://www.decorativebookends.com. He provides interesting information buying and collecting decorative bookends.
http://www.decorativebookends.com
www.decorativebookends.com
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