About the "acrobats-or-contortionists"

You see them on modillions most of time:

Here is one from Aulnay:

The man on this modillion is naked, that's the transcription on stone of his intimate conversion. (OR : the intimate conversion he has accomplished within himself.)

His actions and thoughts are turned towards Heaven because he has converted his earthly parts. 

Here are others from Echillais on the left and Mornac:

Finally the best one, a modillion from the church at Corme-Ecluse representing a female, perhaps a converted sinner such as clerics like to show us;or more simply, a woman who just helps her husband to find the right way as shown on the nine capitals on the front end of this church. Even her hair - symbol of lust- is turned towards Heaven.  It's even transformed into interlacings,symbolic of the infinite. Perhaps it's in relation with the theme developed on the portal and in the choir showing that the devil reigns over the local clerics, which is not the case at the Abbaye-aux-Dames of Saintes,directed by an Abbess.


That's the reason why I am fascinated

The XI th and XII th centuries are times of a huge spiritual renewal immersed in archaic beliefs such as demoniac powers, lots of miracles that people pray for, at the shrines of saints.




What then, is an acrobat ?

(from gr. akros, high, and batein, to walk)

in fact

During the XIth to XIIth centuries festivities were frequent all the year round: no radio, no TV, no books, no phones ... the only fun is at the church in the middle of the cemetery and the market place. The choices of the artists are dance, theater and circus for expressing ideas. During these times the only preoccupation is how to reach Heaven, and this is costly as we can see through the gifts offered to priories, for the construction of new churches and also for practicing costly and risky pilgrimages. So our artists  perform with what they have: their bodies. For them it's a business and they fascinate. Sculptors represent them and they successfully translate on stones the intimate conversion, when our mind and acts are looking towards Heaven.

Let's have a look:

Somebody turned upside down

Anne and Robert Blanc in their reference book named this "RETOURNEMENT".

We may say " CONVERSION "

Here is another one from Aulnay:

A very fine capital showing the result of the successful conversion.

there follows Retaud:

All these postures are the same obvious family group.

bodies are turned upside towards Heaven

My ancient dictionary says the etymology is: (from gr. akros, high, and batein, to walk)

That's true but not easy !

____Walk to Heaven____

What a performance for sculptors to show us the non-visible....congratulations!

The sculpture succeeds in finding its way outside antiquated fashions, being  The NEW MEDIA of these times. Basically they are "publicity"or advertising designed for people using a simple and raw language, full of symbols and meanings related to this fantastic era. An era of intense spirituality, which excludes the sculptures of meaningless purposes in our churches! Men cannot give money for the construction of priories and churches and then pay more for silly sculptures!



The end (rev: sep 2011)