On many buildings you often see gargoyles accompanied by small creatures. Today we’re going to discuss these little creatures and I’ll show you a fantastic example of this type, which I discovered in the lovely French city of Narbonne.

Gargoyles often include small beings placed underneath the main figure and in different positions: suckling, being trodden on, grasped, mocking, playful, and so on. They are generally dynamic little figures that are added to gargoyles to give them a narrative touch.

Although we should bear in mind that some gargoyles are mammals and are sometimes shown suckling their young, when they are demons, these little companions take on a clearly demonic meaning. Generally speaking, they have negative, evil connotations, both for their gestures and attitudes and for the positions they occupy, as they are usually placed on the lowest and basest parts of the gargoyle’s body. In his research on the gastrocephalus, remember that Burbank Bridaham says that head in the belly can convey the idea that the centre of the brain has descended to the lower parts of the body, giving these figures a negative connotation. This placement in the lower part of the body and its meaning can also be linked to the meaning of these small creatures.

There are many gargoyles with small companions, and I’ll show you some images below.  However, I want to highlight a surprising set of gargoyles that I came across on my trip to Narbonne, in the current cloister of the Gothic cathedral of St. Juste and St. Pasteur. When we went there in August 2016, they were right in the middle of restoration work, which made it difficult to photograph some of them. However, this didn’t stop me from taking shots of most of the gargoyles, all of which were sensational, beautiful and stunning.  They are undoubtedly some of the most unusual gargoyles I’ve ever seen.

 

Gargoyles and their small companions

 

arte historia gárgolas

Eagle grasping a bat. Church of Santa María la Mayor in Valderrobres (Teruel, Spain).

 

gárgolas iconografía arte

Animal monster with young. Castle of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes (France).

 

gárgola simbología expresividad

Animal monster with young. Church of Our Lady in Trier (Germany).

 

gárgolas demonios monstruos

Dog with young. Cathedral of St. Étienne in Limoges (France).

 

arte historia investigación

Animal monster holding a small devil. Cathedral of St. Juste in Narbonne (France).

 

águila en gárgolas

Eagle with amphibian. Salamanca Cathedral (Spain).

 

gárgola águila simbología

Eagle gripping a small devil. Cathedral of St. Étienne in Limoges (France).

 

águila en gárgolas

Two-headed devil suckling a small creature. Salamanca Cathedral (Spain).

 

gárgola demonio alado

Devil with small creature. Astorga Cathedral (Spain).

 

 

The fascinating gargoyles in the Cloister of Narbonne Cathedral

 

león en gárgolas

Lion with young. Cloister of Narbonne Cathedral (France).

 

arte simbología demonio

Devil with small creature. Cloister of Narbonne Cathedral (France).

 

animales insólitos gárgolas

Dog with young. Cloister of Narbonne Cathedral (France).

 

demonio en gárgolas

Devil with small creature. Cloister of Narbonne Cathedral (France).

 

gárgola arte canalón

Devil with small creature. Cloister of Narbonne Cathedral (France).

 

gárgolas grotesco escultura

Lion with young. Cloister of Narbonne Cathedral (France).

 

gárgolas demonio simbología

Devil with small creature. Cloister of Narbonne Cathedral (France).

 

quimeras gárgolas arquitectura

Devil with small creature. Cloister of Narbonne Cathedral (France).

 

 

Bibliography consulted

BURBANK BRIDAHAM, L., The Gargoyle Book. 572 examples from Gothic Architecture, New York, Dover Publications, Inc., 2006.

Art, History and Research

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