Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Headless Saint

I used the word "saint", but I'm not sure whether it is the appropriate word or not, since three figures in the photo have angel-like wings and the one on the left-hand side must be a king (he has, besides the crown, a scepter in his left hand and a ball representing the world in the other). Anyway, these holy figures, especially the one with his head in his hand, attracted my attention when I visited Notre Dame de Paris.

A Headless Saint

Let me explain from the beginning. This is the photo of the decoration carved on one of the three entrance-gates that lead you into 'la Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris' (the middle gate is closed). The façade of the Cathedral has three main big gates (see the second photo), and all of them are magnificently ornamented with many statues and symbolic or allegorical animals and plants in relief.

The headless figure is outstanding compared with many other 'normal' figures on the gates. I have been thinking there must be some legend behind this strange figure. Is he a great martyr who was canonized after enduring hardship for the sake of his faith? Is he the same person as the king on the left, and do the four figures tell his pious life briefly like some medieval paintings where different times are often depicted in one canvas?

I remember that I have met a similar headless figure somewhere in a story, though the story was not about a saint or a king but, if my memory is correct, about a knight. The whole story escaped my memory, but the scene that remains still impressive in me goes roughly like this:

A knight had a fight in a tournament (or in a battle, I'm not sure) and he was defeated and beheaded by his opponent. He fell down from his steed but he did not die on the spot. Slowly he rose to his feet and picked up his cut-off head, which lay on the ground, and the head spoke some words about revenge and he, the headless knight, mounted his horse again and went away, carrying his head under his arm.

I'm not going to say that this bizarre story has something to do directly with the headless figure in the relief of Notre Dame de Paris. I think, however, that this kind of figure holding his head in his hand might appear in other folk tales and legends, and it may be one of the common figures the Western people’s imagination produced.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

First Trial

I named my blog "zamboa", which is a Portuguese word meaning, according to a dictionary, "pomelo" or "shaddock", a large kind of citrus fruit, very similar to a grapefruit.

To tell the truth, this is the second "frist trial" since the first one disappeared (I don' know why) when I changed the template by removing the "I Power Blogger" and adding a link list.