You know how we see the face on the torso in a lot of evil type old pics - do you know what it's called or what the origin is at all?
I'm not sure if it has a specific title, or style, it seems to be used the most in depictions of Satan to show his consuming the human soul. I think I've posted artwork dating back to the 11th or 12th century that included a demon like character with a devil face in its torso but I'd have to check through some posts to verify that. You've got me curious now about where this sort of imagery originated. I'm guessing it started in several places but there was probably one popular work that was copied in illuminated manuscripts that might have inspired dozens of the others we've seen.
Also, I think you might find this site of interest, Paul... http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00generallinks/munster/india/aa_india.html
Hi Pecay,See Rudolf Wittkower's "Allegory and the Migration of Symbols" "Marvels of the East: a Study in the History of Monsters" chapter. Also "Monsters and Grotesques in Medieval Manuscripts" Alixe Bovey.Stories of the monstrous races written about by Ctesias, Pliny and Solinus were reshaped in the Anglo Saxon text "Wonders of the East" in Latin and Old English between c.970 and c.1150. These included the Blemmyae or Blemya described by Pliny as a man with his face on his torso. They are found in illustrations in "Manderville's Travels" also in wood carvings in Medieval cathedrals. They lived on into the 17th and 18th centuries in pseudo scientific dress. You were expected to see them if you travelled to the Far East. These could be the source of this image, but then it could be just a natural visual pun, after all, the first thing most children draw is a face on legs without body.I also found in "The Womans Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects" by Walker, the statues of Baubo, a female clown from the Eleusinian Mysteries, she also has her face on her belly.And from Borges "Book of Imaginary Beings", the fauna of China, The Hsing-t'ien, a being decapitated by the gods, its eyes are in its chest and its navel is its mouth. It hops up and down and jumps about in clearings brandishing a shield and axe.I'm sure that I have seen most of this stuff on BibliOdyssey....ah yes - page 132 of your brilliant book.Paul Rumsey.
Pecay, perhaps from the Blemmyae from the "Wonders of the East" tradition, see Wittkower,s "Allegory and the Migration of Symbols" "Marvels of the East; a Study of the History of Monsters" chapter. Also "Monsters and Grotesques in medieval Manuscripts" Alixe Bovey.Also ancient greek statues of Baubo, she has a face on her belly, and from Borges "Book of Imaginary Beings" fauna of China, the Hsing-t'ien, has eyes on chest and its navel its mouth.I think it is a natural visual pun, and the first thing most children draw is a face on legs....You have a Blemmyae on page 132 of your brilliant BibliOdyssey book.Paul Rumsey.
Ha! I'm not sure whether to be embarrassed or reassured. Not only am I cited back to myself but Aeron's link leads to the origin of the Blemmyae image used in the book!In my defense, as lame as it may well be, I think that because I continually traverse such a huge breadth of imagery, I tend to kind of compartmentalise individual motifs as discrete elements and don't often delve too far into linking up associations. (part of that stems from something of a 'fear' I developed early on doing my thang because of the confusion stemming from the rife Early Modern/Renaissance plagiarism : it felt too easy to get bogged down with minutiae so made me wary of devoting too much energy to the process ... again: lame!)Thanks very much Paul for the excellent response and references and of course that natural visual pun is an important first principles trope too.Dear oh dear. I think I'd better do some reading.Cheers!
Sorry, didn't mean to comment twice, computer froze and I thought comment lost...A similar composition of St Michael and Devil by Bermejo in National Gallery London, red eyes for nipples etc.Paul Rumsey.
Pecay, - the most interesting torso face that I have seen is in the painting by follower of Bosch that Aeron posted on May 27th 08 and June 17th 07. This picture relates to the "Mouth of Hell" image and also to the carvings found on Medieval churches, the "Sheela-na-gig", where she squats pulling her vagina open, and the "Mouth Pullers", a head stretching its mouth with its hands. (There is a book, "Images of Lust, Sexual Carvings in Medieval Churches" by Wier & Jerman).Aeron - there is a great devil by Giovanni da Modena where he devours the sinners and gives birth to them via the mouth of the face between his legs.Paul Rumsey.
Excellent suggestions, the both of you. As soon as I find a decently sized image online of the Giovanni da Modena beast, I'll be sure to post it here, thanks for that suggestion. I'm going to poke around online soon with many of these titles in mind.
A weird coincidence, I was just looking for imagery of the devil depicted in tarot cards and I stumbled across this thread discussing the origins of the devil face on the belly of the beast.. http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=97253
While the conversation of the use of humanoid faces on the torsos of figures associated with evil is rather interesting (such depictions also exist in other cultures and religions)... I think that in this particular case, the important aspect of the painting isn't the face on the torso. The face on the torso is just a product of what the overall image is meant to be. The composite nature of the devil is of more important note and to me personally more interesting.
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