The Bowman and the Bird on the Ruthwell Cross and Other Works

In interpreting works of mediaeval religious art, the
question often arises whether all figures representedin
them are properly understood as religious in content.
There is one class in particular that is uncertain in
meaning: the animals and associated humans-the
hunters, bowmen, and struggling figures engaged with
beasts. For a student who is convinced that all in
mediaevalart is symbolicor illustratesa religioustheme,
it is not hard to find a text that seems to justify a moral
or spiritualisticinterpretation of the hunter and the
beasts.But there is also the famous letter of St. Bernard
denouncing the fantastic sculptured capitals of the
Cluniac cloistersas completelydevoid of religioussignificance. This powerful, vehement statement of a great
churchman,who was also a poet, confirmsthe view that
Romanesque art includes much that was not designed
as symbol or as illustrationof a sacred text.' There are,
nevertheless, examples to which Bernard's strictures
might not apply and where our intuition about a possible religious content of the animal image leads us to
inquire further into the criteriaof interpretation.Sometimes we observe that the images of animals and
hunters, whether in the main or marginal field, resemble neighboring themes which have an undoubted
religioussense. But even this resemblanceis not decisive,
for the problematic theme may elaborate freely an
extra-religious aspect of the religious representation
as in images of violence from the Old Testament
borderedby scenes of animal and human combat in the
frame. Thus on one of the Meigle stones in Scotland,
Daniel with the Lions is surroundedby hunters, hounds,
a centaur with two axes, a man with a club, and a
dragon fighting a horned beast.2 Centuries later, and
no doubt independent of insular tradition, above a
capital in the cloister of Moissac with the story of
Daniel in the Lions' Den, is an impost carved with
droll figures of little men fighting with birds, beasts,
and monsters.8
i. For Bernard's text, see Migne, Patrologia latina, CLXXXII,
cols. 91x4-9x6i for a translation, see G. Coulton, Life in the
Middle Ages, 3rd ed., New York, 1935, Iv, pp. 174ff. I have
commented at length on this text in an article: "On the
Aesthetic Attitude in Romanesque Art," Art and Thought,
Essays in Honour of A. K. Coomaraswamy,London, 1948,
pp. i33ff.
2. See Stewart Cruden, The Early Saxon and Pictish Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1957, p. x6, and pls. 26, 2.7.
3. See M. Schapiro, "The Romanesque Sculpture of
On the twelfth century bronze doors of Augsburg,
a man struggling with a lion is probablySamson, since
on a nearby panel the same figure wields a jawbone
against a crowd of smaller figures who can only be the
Philistines."But there is also a scene of a bear at a tree
with birds,a lion devouring a calf, a youth and a snake,
and a centaur shooting a lion.5 Are these to be taken
as religious symbols too? According to the late Adolf
Goldschmidt, one of the keenest and most sober students of mediaeval art, the figure of Samson is a type
of Christ and an example of the triumph over sin; his
presence here points then to the meaning of the less
obviousscenes with animal figures.'
Could one not reverse the order of interpretation
and, proceeding from the manifest meaning of the unBiblicalscenes of animal force, see the two themes from
the story of Samson as a Biblical equivalentof the profane subjects? For Samson is a legendary figure of
human force, a hero who overcomes beastsand human
enemies, as in so many literaturesof primitiveand barbaricpeoples.As such he is named together with David,
Hercules, Achilles, and others in the citation of exemplary heroes by the story-tellersof the time. It may
be that for the priest or monk who commissionedthe
artist, the choice of Samson in this context of animal
violence could be justified by the exegetical notions of
the schools. But these would not explain the particular
choice of the ante-type of Christ from among so many
others offered by the Old Testament, nor would they
illuminate the obvious unity of Samson and the surrounding scenes of animal life. There would remain,
of course, for the reading of the profane imagery of
force the problem of discerning the specific sense of
the animals chosen-the interest in the bear, the snake,
the lion, and the centaur. For these nuances of meaning we must turn to secular literature, to legends and
folklore, and to the conditions of everyday life in the
Germanic world of the eleventh century, just as we
consult the religious beliefs and practices for the deciphermentof the sacred themes.
A text of the twelfth century throws an unexpected
light on the equivalencesof the sacred and the secular
with respectto themes of force. In the famous Schedula
Diversarum Artium, the monk-author, Theophilus
Rogerus, writing about the proper decoration of repoussd gold and silver vessels, counsels the craftsmen
to representon them "horsemen fighting against dragons, the image of Samson or David tearing the jaws
ART BULLETIN, XIII, 1931, p. 334, fig. 79.
des frilken
4. A. Goldschmidt, Die deutschen
Mittelalters, Marburg, x926, pls. LXIIIff.
5. Ibid., pls. 67ff.
6. Ibid., pp. 29ff.
7. For a late example, cf. the Provengal poem, Flamenca,
lines 618ff. See The Romanceof Flamenca,A Provental Poem
of the Thirteenth Century, translated by M. J. Hubert, Princeton, 1962.
of the lion, also single lions and griffins strangling a same conception of a bowman and a bird appears on
sheep, or anything you please that will be suitable and Saxon stone sculptures at Hexham, Halton, Sheffield,
appropriateto the size of the work" (Book in, ch. and elsewhere." On some of these the arrow is not
What unites all these varied subjects is the con- pointed exactly at the bird, which merely surmounts
tent of force embodied in nameless fighting men, the archer as on the Ruthwell Cross.' In a psalter
from Corbie, ca. 8oo, strongly influenced by English
Biblical heroes, and voraciousbeasts.
art, an archer aiming at a bird fills the initial B of
Beatus in Psalm (Fig. 3)
.At a later time, in the twelfth century, a bowman,
These reflections on the animal themes bring me to
in another posture, is represented repeatedly on the
a problemraisedin a recent article in THE ART BULLEbronze doors of southern Italy. He occurs twice on the
TIN by ProfessorErnst Kantorowicz on the meaning of
door at Trani and in a field that elsewhere is
the archer and the bird on the top of the Ruthwell
reserved for images of hunters, riders, and archers,
Cross. His interpretation of the figure as Ishmael,
whom we cannot
connect with the religious
founded on the resemblanceto the drawing of Ishmael scenes beside them.'easily
Such figures from secular life
shooting a birdin the manuscriptof Aelfric's Paraphrase are extremely common in Romanesque art."
of the Heptateuch (Figs. I, 2), seems to confirm and
But already in the seventh and eighth centuries,they
to draw some support from my own paper on the have a
prominent place in the art of the British Isles,
religious meaning of the sculpturesof the Cross." For even on monuments with religiousscenes, including the
Ishmael as a figure of the desert would belong with the stone slabs and crosses." On the Bewcastle Cross a
central eremiticcontent of the scenes and figures below:
figure with a falcon is carved at the base. In Scotland,
Christ with the beasts in the desert, John the Baptist, not far from the
region where stand the Bewcastle and
Paul and Anthony, and Mary Magdalen.
Ruthwell Crosses, are many representationson stone
It would be agreeable to accept his view, but I am of hunters and riders."'They seem to express the innot convinced by it. I shall set forth here the reasons terests and mode of life of the native rulers and
for my doubt, which have a bearing on the interpreta- nobility for whom these religious monuments were
tion of a large class of mediaeval images of the hunter made and perhapspreservemotifs which in pagan times
and the beast.
had some significance as marks of rank or as symbols
In his argument Professor Kantorowicz treats the of virile qualities.
bowman as if he were a uniquefigure in Hiberno-Saxon
It was becauseof the frequency of the hunter in the
art, whose meaning is to be grasped through the con- sculpturesof the seventh to the ninth centuries in the
nection with neighboring subjects on the Cross. The islands, in varied contexts and compositions which
fact is that he occurs in several other works where the seemed incompatiblewith a religious explanation, that
interpretationas Ishmael would appearfarfetched. The
8. Theophilus De Diversis Artibus, translated from the
Latin with Introduction and Notes by C. R. Dodwell,
London x96i, p. x4x (lib. III, cap. 78).
9. "The Archer on the Ruthwell Cross," ART BULLETIN,
XLIII, x960,
pp. 57-59.
Io. "The Religious Meaning of the Ruthwell Cross," ibid.,
XXVI, x944, pp. 232-245.
ii. See A. W. Clapham, English Romanesque Architecture
before the Conquest, Oxford, 1930, pp. 70-72, for examples of
"archers carved at the base of the shafts, shooting at the birds
and beasts above"; pl. 2x shows example at Bishop Auckland
(Durham)j fig. 18, at Bradbourne and Sheffield (now in the
British Museum). See also W. G. Collingwood, Northumbrian
Crosses of the Pre-Norman Age, London, 1927, p. 40, on this
motif, and the examples at Hexham (fig. 28), Halton (fig.
92), and Sheffield (fig. 93). Other representations of the
archer aiming at a bird or beast are cited by A. S. Cook, "The
date of the Ruthwell and Bewcastle Crosses," Transactions of
the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, New Haven,
Conn., XVl, 191x3, pp. 274f. These are at Bakewell and Camuston (Scotland) and in later Romanesque art in England and
x2. I write loosely in describing the archer as aiming at
the bird. It is possible, however, that there were birds on the
missing (now restored) horizontal arms of the Ruthwell Cross,
as on the cross-head at Cropthorne (Yorkshire), Clapham,
op.cit., 1, pl. 16.
13. The example has been noted and reproduced by Clapham, op.cit., pl. 23. For the connection of the ornament of this
initial with insular art, see my article: "The Decoration of
the Leningrad manuscript of Bede," Scriptorium, x2, x958,
pp. x192,x196.
14. See A. Boeckler,Die Bronzetiirendes Bonanusvon Pisa
und des Barisanusvon Trani, Berlin, x953, figs. 97,
126, x27, x3x, I5i, for the examples at Trani, Ravello, and
ancestorsof this motif in
p. 64
the Byzantine ivory caskets and classic hunting scenes. Two
bowmen aiming at a bird on a tree between them are represented on the lid of a sarcophagusof Ix
179 with relics of
the soldier saints, Sergius and Bacchus, in the Museo Civico
at Verona--see Hans Decker, RomanesqueArt in Italy, New
York 1959,
fig. 256.
The theme of the archer and bird is discusseda propos of
the archeraiming at a squirrelon the bronze door of Gniezno
in the magnificentpublication of this important monument:
Drzmi Gnienietiskie, edited by Michael Walicki, Wroclaw,
1959, 3 volumes, with French summaries,in the chaptersby
Lech Kalinowski, "The ideological and esthetic content of
the Door of Gniezno" (in Polish), Ii, pp. 9iff., 156, and
by ZdsistawKepifiski,"The symbolismof the GnieznoDoor,"
II, pp. I6xiff., 29off.
x5. Cf. musicians, acrobats,dancers, and horsemenon the
archivoltsof doorwaysin southwestFrance. Many instancesof
the archer fighting with wild beasts in English Romanesque
sculpture are listed by A. S. Cook, op.cit., pp. 274f.
x16.Cf. the sculpturesof Breedon(Leicestershire),attributed
to the late eighth century by Clapham, op.cit., pls. z7f., and
the crossesmentionedin note xi above.
17. See G. Baldwin Brown, The Arts in Early England, v,
London, 192x, pl. xII, and pp. 132ff., z281ff.
x8. See StewartCruden,op.cit., pls. 5, 7-10o, x3, x8-20, 27.
On p. I2z the author calls the Pictish crosses "a huntsman's
i. Ruthwell Cross, Uppermost Section
(Drawing by Miss A. C. Esmeijer)
Ishmael with Hagar and His Egyptian Wife. Brit. Mus. Cotton MS Claudius
B. Iv, fol. 36v (photo: courtesy of the British Museum)
3. Initial B. Amiens, Bibl. mun. Cod. 18, fol. 95r
(photo: Foto Marburg)
4. Tympanum (detail). Andlau, Abbey Church, West Porch
(photo: Foto Marburg)
5-6. Details, Reliquary of St. Stephen, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum,
Weltliche Schatzkammer (photo: Kunsthistorisches Museum)
in writing on the Ruthwell Cross I interpretedthe representations
in the last works of classicart. The
archerthere as a secularfigure.'"
fowlerhad appearedalreadyin pagancalendarsand in
ProfessorKantorowiczsupposesthat sinceI call it a verseson the monthsas typicalfor Octoberor Novem"secularfigure"I regardit as "purelydecorative."20ber.25Scenesof the hunt are renderedon pagantombs
If by that he means to say that I deny to the figure where they have a possiblereligioussignificance."
of its
It is remarkablethat in illustratingthe story of
any valueor significancebeyondthe contribution
form to the rhythmof lines and of light and darkon Ishmaelin the manuscriptof Aelfric'sParaphraseof
the Cross,he misunderstands
me. I believethat such the Heptateuch(Fig. 2), a later Anglo-Saxonartist
motifs of decoration,especiallysince they representa approachedthe patternof the archerand bird in the
and Ruthwell Cross. But the Bible text about Ishmael's
humanor animalfigure,havemovingconnotations
they hunting-"he grew and dwelt in the wilderness,and
are not symbolsof status. (I have written aboutthis becamean archer"(Genesis21:20)-written on the
aspect of mediaevaldecorationin an article: "The marginof the scene,alreadyaccountsfor the presence
AestheticAttitudein Romanesque
Art.")21The alterna- of the archer;and the artistwho had to representthis
tivesare not, as is often supposed:religiousmeaningor subjectshareda traditionat least 300 yearsold in the
no meaning,but religiousor secularmeanings,both renderingof an archeraiming at a bird. The same
laden with affect. Like metaphorin poetry,such mar- conceptionmay be found in the already mentioned
ginal decorationis also a means of dwelling in an psalterat Amiens of about 8oo, in the decorationof
the initial B, which has been strongly influencedby
enjoyedfeelingor desire.
As I havesaidbefore,we are not alwaysableto dis- English art (Fig. 3).7"
That Ishmaelwas a figure of the desertmakesit
tinguishthese two fieldsof meaning,since the choice
of religiousfigures is influencedby their secularin- conceivablethat he could be associatedwith Christian
is improbterest,22and themeschosenat one time for theirqual- hermits.But for otherreasonsthisassociation
ities of force may be interpretedlater as moral and able on the Ruthwell Cross. For althoughProfessor
Kantorowiczcan cite a churchfather,John Chrysosreligioussymbols.
Is it surprisingthat the barbarianChristians,for tom, on Ishmaelas a piousman living in the desert
whom the chasewas a virileand noblesportand had under God's protection,by the end of the seventh
also an economicvalue,shoulddelightin imagesof the century Ishmael stood for the Moslems who were
falconer, the hunter, and the rider?2 These were Christendom'sgreatestenemies.While the truly ereimportantfiguresfor the imaginationof the new mas- miticfiguresof Christin the Desert,John the Baptist,
ters of Western Europein the early Middle Ages."2 Paul and Anthony, etc., on the Ruthwell Cross,are
All that pertainedto humanand animalforce seems oftennamedin earlyinsularwritings,I haveyet to find
to have attractedthem. The frequencyof animal a mentionof Ishmaelas a modelof asceticlife in that
themeson the portalsand doorsof churches,as in the literature.Bede, who was a youngercontemporary
examplesat Augsburgand Trani, may be connected the sculptorof the RuthwellCross,speaksof Ishmael
with the place of this imageryon the exteriorof the in a verydifferentsense,as the ancestorof the Saracens
church, which is turned to the secular community. -homeless and destructiveheathens,the "lues SarThe barbarianChristianscould also find many such racenorum."28
What Christianof the seventhcentury,
19. See my note 57 on page 238. This was also the
of G. Baldwin Brown,
v, p. 125, who compares the
on the Bewcastle Cross: "he is treated
archer with the falconer o•.cit.,
in quite a secular spirit."
20o. Op.cit., p. 59, the last paragraph.
21. See note x above.
22. An example in Romanesque art is the choice of figures
on the portal of Santa Maria in Carri6n de los Condes
(Palencia), the seat of the counts of Carri6n, famous in the
epic of the Cid. Herod is placed in the center, enthroned and
frontal among the Magi, above the crown of the arch; in
the spandrils below are Samson on the Lion and the equestrian
Constantine (A. K. Porter, Romanesque Sculpture of the
Pilgrimage Roads, Boston 1923, fig. 773). A later example
of a selection of religious themes unified by their common
reference to a secular interest is Rubens' altarpiece in Mechlin.
On the central panel is painted the Miraculous Draught of
Fish; on the left wing, Tobias and the Angel; on the right
wing, Peter Finding the Coin; on the predellas, Jonah Thrown
into the Sea, and Christ Walking on the Water. One may
seek a theological common denominator for all these subjects,
but more obvious and plausible is the connection with those
who commissioned and donated the triptych: the Fishermen's
23. On fowling in the pre-Christian North European world,
see J. G. D. Clark, Prehistoric Europe. The Economic Basis,
London, 1952, pp. 37ff.
24. For an example of hunters, riders, and bowmen in preChristian Germanic art, see the drawings of the lost golden
horns from Gallehus (Slesvig) in H. Shetelig and Hj. Falk,
ScandinavianArchaeology, Oxford, x937, p. 208, pl. 36.
25. See the admirablebook of Henri Stern,Le Calendrierde
354, Etude sur son texte et sur ses illustrations, Paris, 1952,
pp. 246ff., 355, 366, 367, on the fowler as the figure for
October or November in classical, Byzantine and early mediaeval Western literature and art. Note also on classical engraved
gems the related figure of Hercules shooting the Stymphalian
birds in S. Reinach, Pierres Gravces des Collections Marlborough
et d'Orlians et des recueils d'Eckhel, Gori, Leesque . . . ,
Paris, 1895, pl. 19, no. 38, and the frequentisolated bowman
in A. Furtwaingler,Die antiken Gemmen, Leipzig, Berlin,
pl. VIII, 48;
IX, 21;
XV, 22,
LI, 6, xo, Ii,
26. See Franz Cumont, Le symbolisme fundraire des
Romains, Paris, 1942, pp. 439ff. See also E. LeBlant, Les
Sarcophages Chritiens de la Gaule, Paris, i886, p. 68, pl. 19,
38, 39, and J. Baum, La Sculpture jigurale en Europe a
Plpoque mirovingienne, Paris, 1937, pl. 63, for scenes of the
hunt on Christian sarcophagi in Spain and Italy from the 6th
to the 8th century.
27. See note 13 above.
28. Historia Ecclesiastica, v, 23 (ed. Plummer, I, p. 349;
II, pp. 338, 339)-"Quo
tempore gravissima Sarracenorum
reading Genesis, could forget the angel's prophecy to symbolize a religious concept. In the Canterbury
Hagar: "He shall be a wild man; his hand will be Psalter (Paris, Bibl. nat. Ms lat. 8846), Psalm 89
against all men, and all men's hands against him" (9o), which speaks of the shortness and miseries of
man's life, is illustratedby a series of figures represent(i6: 13)?"29
ing the seven stages of life.82A child plays with a top,
youth aims his arrow at a bird on a tree, a more
As an early example of the use of the extremitiesof
figure with a falcon rides a horse, etc. Here the
sacred objects as marginal fields for an imagery of
connection with the text and the adjoining themes
how many features common in Romanesque art arose makes the meaning explicit. "We spend our years as a
in insular sculpturesand manuscriptdecoration of the tale that is told; the days of our years are three-score
and ten; and if by reasonof strength they be four-score
seventh to the ninth century.
There is an interesting parallel to this problem in years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is
the interpretationof two figures on the Romanesque soon cut off, and we fly away" (lines 9, I o). It is
that the naturally pagan world of
tympanum of the abbey church at Andlau in interesting, too,
youth are symbolized by games and the
Flanking a central Christ who gives the keys to Peter
later years by an elderly man reading
and the book to Paul, one figure aims an arrow at a
ancient sitting and praying.
bird on a tree (Fig. 4); his counterparton the other
side of Christ wields a sling directed at a bird above
him. Several scholarshave interpretedthe trees as those
In proposingto interpret the archer of the Ruthwell
of Paradise, the birds as human souls, and the hunters
as an image of force, with a poetic and emotional
as symbols of evil. I incline instead to view them as a
I have ignored one familiar sense of such
heraldic of force drawn from the profane world, like
the archer and bird are at the top of
other figures on the same portal. Most of the sculpthe
Cross, they may be seen as apotropaic,like the lion
tures of Andlau are of beasts: there are lions, dragons,
and other emblems of force on the cornices or
a centaur shooting with a bow, an elephant, a griffin,
of buildings."sThere the repetition of an
fighting horsemen, a banquet scene, a butcher, the pediments
contributing to the rhythmical order
combats of David and Goliath, and of Samson and the element,
not exclude a symbolic meaning
lion."1No doubt, a cleric of the time invited to comment on these figures would have found in them an and may even reinforce it. For the archer and the bird
occasion to speak of good and evil, the soul and Satan. there is a mediaeval parallel in a context with an inBut it seems to me unlikely that such was the thought scription that speaks directly of protection from evil
of the artist (or even his directing patron) in selecting powers. On the famous gold bursa with the relic of
St. Stephen in the treasure of the Holy Roman Emthese particularfigures.
All this should not be taken to mean that the bow- pire in Vienna, a North French work of the ninth cenman and the bird are always a purely secular theme. tury closely related to the art of Reims, the two narI may cite here an example from a mediaevalpsalter in row sides are stamped twice with a tiny medallion
which a picture of the shooting of a bird serves to image of a bowman aiming at a bird (Fig.
5).lues miseracaedevastabat."See also Bede'scommenton Genesis
16:13 (the prophecy about Ishmael's descendants) in his
Hexaemeron,lib. Iv, (Pat. lat. 91, col. 159): [it] "signifies
that his seed will dwell in the desert, that is, the homeless
Saracen nomads who raid all the peoples bordering on the
desertand are fought by all of them. .... Today, indeed, his
hand is against everyone and everyone'shand is against him,
as they oppressall Africa with their sway and hold the greater
part of Asia and much of Europe, hostile and hateful to
all. .. ." Again, in his Commentary on the Pentateuch (Pat.
lat. 91, cols. 241-243), interpreting Paul's contrast of Ishmael
and Isaac in Galatians4 as symbolizingthe Old and the New
Law, Bede observes that Hagar with Ishmael in the desert
signifies the Synagogue and its people expelled from its land,
without a priesthoodand ignoring the path of Christ. Moreover, that Ishmael is called a bowman is not inappropriateto
the Jewish people; it refers to the killing of sacrificialvictims
under the Old Law.
Already before Islam the Bedouins were describedby St.
Jerome as Saracensand Ishmaeliteswho attack a caravan of
Christiansand enslave them. See his Vita Malchi Monachi
Captivi ( 23, col. 57). The story is retold by an
Anglo-Saxon contemporary of the Ruthwell sculptor, the
poet Aldhelm, in his De Laudibus Virginitatis ( 89,
col. I29--"a Saracenispraedonibuset Ismaelitisgrassatoribus
obvia quaeque atrociter vastantibus").
29. Dr. Kantorowicz,on pp. 58f. of his article, with reference to Galatians 4:22-31 and the patristic interpretationsof
theselines of St. Paul, also entertainsthe possibilitythat the
archeraiming at the bird is Ishmael,the son of Abraham
or the sursumJerusalem.
3o. See RobertWill, Repertoirede la SculptureRomans
de l'Alsace,Strasbourg,1955, pp. 8f., and pl. vin; Julius
Baum,"The Porchof AndlauAbbey,"ARTBULLETIN,
1935,PP. 492-505, fig. 8.
31. Will, op.cit.,pp. 5-9. In explainingthe bowmanand
the birdas "symbolicof the devil'sattemptto gain possession
of the soul, whichremainsunharmed
becauseit is underthe
protectionof Christ,"Baum(p. 498) ignoresthe otherfigures
of combatand animalforce.
32. It is reproduced
by H. Omont,Psautierdu Xllle si.cle,
Bibliothquenationale,Paris, n.d., fig. 98. The manuscript
was writtenat the end of the twelfthcentury,but certainof
the miniatures,
includingthe illustrationof Psalm 89 (9o),
werepaintedin the fourteenth
as Millard
centuryin Catalonia,
Meisshasshown("ItalianStylein Catalonia,"
Journalof the
Walters Art Gallery, Iv, 1941, pp. 73-76).
33. On the same themes in Greek buildings, see the important
article by Emanuel Liwy, "Urspriingeder bildenden Kunst,"
Vienna, I930 (from the Almanach, Akademie der Wissenschaftenin Wien, Jhrg. So).
34. It was a reliquaryof the blood of St. Stephenand was
said to have belonged to Charlemagne,though the decoration
is surely later than his time. For the fullest account of this
Beside this figure appear the images of a fisherman
That the archeron the Ruthwell Crossis an apofour times and of a horseman six times (Fig. 6). The tropaicfigureis hardlycertain.A moreextensivestudy
meaning of these medallions is intimated by a fourth of the examplesand the texts would be needed for
But I believethat the view
subject: an angel with the inscription "MALIs testingthis interpretation.
VINDICTA" (Figs. 5, 6). This medallion occurs eight advancedearlier-that the archerbelongsto the class
times and may be the key to the whole. It is not clear of secularfigures of force congenialto a barbarian
why the angel who protects against evil should be and emerging feudal society-is the most consistent
accompaniedby the rider, the bowman and the fisher- with the varietyof contextsin which the hunterapman. Are they, in some vague sense, emblems of virile pears in mediaevalart, althoughit may acquirein
occupations,suited to a noble? One can cite texts from particularworks an apotropaicand even a moralthe Bible, and especially the psalter, that speak of the religioussense.
bowman as a figure of evil and also of the fowler with
his snares, and others in which the bird is the soul."5 COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
But for comprehending these ornaments as a whole,
the most relevant texts, I believe, are those of mediaeval
magic prayer. In a manuscript of the ninth century,
Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, Ms lat. 1979, I find
on the last page (fol. 25ov) an inscription: "Nec
malus omo, nec mala linga, nec mala fantasma, non
in campo, nec ad arma, neque a bastone, non insidiat
me." An incantation against the three-fold ubiquitous
When Henri Stein, in 1902, published a charter
evil one occurs in a different form in a later manu- containing the phrase, "Magistro Petro de Mosterolio,
script from Grasse (Paris, Bibl. nat. lat. 5231, fol. cementario de Sancto Dyonisio," he thought he had
I29V), also at the end of the book: "Non in silva, discoveredthat Pierre de Montreuil was the thirteenth
non in agro, non in domo, etc." It follows a series century architect of St.-Denis.' Cementarius, according
of prayers for protection against evil and includes ex- to Stein, identifiedthe man as a mason, and magister as
amples from the Old Testament of divine aid in master, and the combination meant that he was the
extremis, as in the prayersfor the dying. These incanta- architect-in-chief, the designer of the work. Later, in
tions suggest that the repeated images on the bursa in another context, Stein tried to buttress this conclusion
Vienna, with their order of frequency-two, four, by proving that cementarius alone was sufficient to
indicate a chief architect.2And in 1912, he publisheda
six, culminating in the eight medallions of the angelrepresent the three elements or fields in which evil is charter of 1265 in which Pierre de Montreuil is called
to be averted: air, water and earth, symbolized by the "Magister Petrus de Monsterolio, cementarius, magisarcher, the fisherman and the rider."6This interpreta- ter operum b. Marie Parisiensis," or Master of the
tion is, of course, a conjecture and it may be, as Marc Works of Notre-Dame.s
Stein's argument on the meaning of cementarius
Rosenberg has said, that of all the medallions only
those with the angels have a religious sense."7
does not seem to requiremuch refutation,since it is
work, see Marc Rosenberg, "Das Stephansreliquiar im Lichte
des Utrechtpsalters," Jahrbuch der preussischen Kunstsammlungen,
pp. 169-i84.
35. Cf. Psalm 9x :3-5: Surely he shall deliver thee from the
snare of the fowler .... He shall cover thee with his feathers,
and under his wings shalt thou trust5 his truth shall be thy
shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror
by night5 nor for the arrow that flieth by day. . . ." On the
symbolism of the fowler in mediaeval literature and its Biblical
sources, see B. G. Koonce, "Satan the Fowler," Mediaeval
Studies, Toronto, xxI, 1959, pp. 176-184.
36. For related magic prayers, exorcisms, and incantations
with elements grouped in threes, see Eugene de Roziere,
Recueil giniral des formules usities dans l'em-pire des Francs
du Ve au Xe sidcle, Paris, 1859, II, and particularly p. 885,
no. 626: "non per aurum, non per argentum, neque per lapidibus praeciosis [sic]"; "nec dormientem, nec sedentem, nec
ambulantem"5 "coelum et terram, mare et omnia quae in eis
sunt." Cf. also the formula in the fictitious letter of Christ to
Abgar, that was used as an apotropaic incantation: "sive in
mare, sive in terra, sive in die, sive in nocte, sive in locis
obscuris, si quis hanc epistolam habuerit securus ambulet in
pace"--cited by E. von Dobschiitz, "Charms and Amulets
(Christian)," in J. Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and
Ethics, New York, 1911, III, p. 425. My friend, the late Ralph
Marcus, professor at the Oriental Institute in Chicago, called
to my attention many years ago the spell published by A.
Dieterich (Abraxas, 1891, p. 139) from the Greek magical
papyrus, Paris 3009, adjuring the demons of the air, the
earth and under the earth, which recalls Paul, Philippians
2:ro--"at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things
in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth."
37. OP.cit., p. x8x.
i. H. Stein, "Pierre de Montereau,architectede l'eglise de
Saint-Denis," Mimoires, Sociiti nationale des antiquairesds
France, LXI,1902, pp. 79-104. Most recently,see M. Aubert,
"Pierre de Montreuil," FestschriftKarl M. Swooboda,Vienna,
1959, pp. 19-21, with bibliography.
2. H. Stein, "Un architecte de la cathidrale du Mans au
XIIIe siecle, Thomas Toustain," Mim., Soc. Ant. Fr., Lxx,
cf. idem, "A proposde Thomas Tou'911, PP. 115-134,)18;
stain:commenton d6signaitles architectesau moyenage," ibid.,
LXXV,1915-1918, pp. 81-89. While it is difficultto agree with
the suggestion made by Stein's principal contemporaryopponent, the abb6Ledru, to wit, that cementariusmeantmasonand
lathomus master mason, Ledru's chief criticism of Stein's interpretation of the Le Mans text is precisely the same one
that is raised here. In view of the rapid evolution of architectural practice,it would, I think, be incorrectto adducetwelfth
and even very early thirteenthcenturyexamplesin the present
3. Idem, "Pierre de Montereauet la cath6dralede Paris,"
ibid., LXXI,1912, pp. 14-28.