Thursday, 10 November 2011
I am very fond of gargoyles in all their various forms, though this one is tactfully called a funny face. The primary function of a gargoyle is to direct water away from the building to prevent damage. In fact in this postcard you can clearly see the channel behind the head which will deliver the water to the spout for safe removal. The secondary function is to frighten off evil spirits.
In German, the word for a gargoyle means "water spewer" while in Dutch it translates as "water spitter" or "water vomiter". Gargoyle may not be a pretty word but it's slightly better than these.
As it's a detail of a building, you can't tell where it's from until you read the small print on the reverse of the postcard. It is to be found on the Cathedral of San Salvador, Oviedo, in Spain, and that cathedral is a UNESCO World heritage Site because it is a unique example of varying architectural styles. It was built on the site of a former cathedral dating to the 9th century and some of these original buildings have survived. The construction of the building as it is today continued between the 13th and 16th centuries.