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Article

Alison Manges Nogueira

Monumental, marble paschal Candlestick of the late 12th to early 13th century with reliefs signed by Nicolaus de Angelo and Vassallettus now in S Paolo fuori le Mura, Rome. The imposing column (h. 5.6 m), adorned with six registers of reliefs and surmounted by a fluted candle holder, rests upon a base of sculpted lions, sphinxes, rams and female figures. The upper and lower reliefs bear vegetal and ornamental patterns while the three central registers portray Christ before Caiaphas, the Mocking of Christ, Christ before Pilate, Pilate Washing his Hands, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension. The culminating Easter scenes reflect the paschal candle’s function during the Easter season as a symbol of Christ resurrected, as evoked in an inscription on the base. A second fragmentary inscription refers to the unidentifiable patron’s desire for commemoration. A third inscription identifies Nicolaus de Angelo as the master sculptor and Petrus Vassallettus as playing a secondary role. Both were active in the second half of the 12th to the early 13th century and came from leading families of Roman sculptors: the Vassalletti and Cosmati (Nicolaus’s family). The candlestick is the only work signed by and securely attributed to Nicolaus and the scope of his contribution remains uncertain. A plausible theory attributes the base and first register to Petrus, based upon similarities to works signed by him and ascribed to his family, such as the cloister of S Giovanni in Laterano in Rome and the narthex of S Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome. Nicolaus probably executed the Christological scenes, distinguishable for their more dynamic, expressive figures and decorative chisel work, and appropriate for the master sculptor because of their centrality and significance. Early Christian sarcophagi and Carolingian ivories may have provided models for the figural types. This form of paschal candlestick was probably inspired by Roman columnar monuments carved with triumphal scenes....

Article

Qum  

Massumeh Farhad

[Qumm; Qom; Kum]

Major shrine centre in central Iran. Sasanian remains in the vicinity suggest that the site may have been occupied in pre-Islamic times, but most medieval geographers and historians claimed that it was founded after the Muslim conquest in the 7th century ad. By 712–13 it had become a bastion for persecuted Shi‛ites, and throughout the medieval period it attracted members of the more extreme Shi‛ite sects. Under the Saljuqs (reg 1038–1194) Qum was celebrated for its madrasas, and it is still the most important centre of Shi‛ite theological studies in Iran.

Its reputation as a holy city is linked to the presence of the tomb of Fatima al-Ma‛suma, the sister of the eighth Shi‛ite imam, Riza. In 816–17, while en route to visit her brother at Tus in north-eastern Iran, she fell ill at Saveh, a Sunni town, and asked to be taken to nearby Qum, where she died and was buried. Her tomb acquired particular importance under the Safavid dynasty (...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

Stupa  

E. Errington, Howard A. Wilson, John Villiers, Henrik H. Sørensen, Erberto F. Lo Bue, Young-Ho Chung and Ken Brown

[Skt stūpa; Pkt thūbha; Pali thūpa; Eng. tope]

Dome-shaped mound, often containing sacred relics. It became the primary cult monument of Buddhist and also Jaina monastic establishments in India. The stupa retained its importance as Buddhism spread across Asia, and a variety of stupa types evolved.

The stupa’s origin is almost certainly the tumulus or funerary mound. According to the Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra (an early account of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni), the funeral cult due to a Buddha is the same as for a great king: a tumulus should be constructed for the cremated remains at a crossroads and honoured with parasols and other symbols of veneration. Inscriptions of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka (reg c. 269–232 bc) attest that the cult of the stupa was already in existence in India by the 3rd century bc (see Buddhism, §III, 1). They mention not only erecting new stupas, but also repairing and enlarging existing monuments in honour of Shakyamuni and of previous Buddhas....