PJ has a habit of naming everything, from our photographic equipment to churches themselves. There is a motif of Romanesque sculpture that we both love found all over France, a motif she has dubbed “head snackers”. The head snacker features a demonic figure of some sort with great sharp teeth biting into the head or body of a poor human. This version at the Église Saint Martin in Plaimpied is a classic representation of the type, including the two-bodied, single-headed feathered beast.
Sometimes, as in Civaux, the demonic flesh-renderer is consuming the body almost whole. Here, the demon is not only tearing at the flesh, but his talon pierces the eye of the victim.
But the sine qua non of the head snacker is found in Chauvigny. Here the head snacker carved by the inimitable Gofridus is actually bemused and the victim stares out with his single visible eye in a bit of confusion. The comic underpinning of this tortured figure is typical of all the capitals in the Collégiale Saint Pierre.
The imaginations of the medieval sculptors filled the Romanesque churches with demons and angels, saints and sinners. Most of the time they served to instruct the faithful, but sometimes, I think, they were more private commentaries and were intended to entertain as well as terrify. They were the medieval equivalents of Frankenstein movies.
This is part of a series of posts featuring an amuse-bouche, a bite-sized appetizer to whet the appetite of diners. Each of these will explore a single interesting feature of medieval architecture or sculpture. To see other amuse-bouches, follow this link.