Symbol and Image in Celtic Religious Art
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First published in 1992. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
relationship between the two partners: whether they have separate identities; whether they may sometimes be merely male and female principles in a given context; whether one is dominant; whether the fact of a divine marriage may itself promote the symbolism of fertility, the latter being such a prominent theme within the iconography itself. The nature of the divine couples represented artistically is varied and embodies a number of roles. Where partners are named but without iconographical
probably do not point to any one specific divinity, unlike Cernunnos whose image was consistent. Horns seem to have been used to increase the symbolism of whatever role a god already possessed; thus we find horns adorning figures with multifarious attributes. They may be worn by the Celtic Mercury, by a war-god, or a woodland deity of vegetation and hunting. Taken by themselves, horns seem to have symbolized fertility and virility (qualities seen especially in bulls and rams, whose horns are most
continental Romano-Celtic contexts; those which are recorded are generally either without role-specific motifs or belong to the group of prosperity/fertility gods. On two German reliefs125 a horned version of Mercury is represented, with his classical attributes of purse and caduceus. At Beire-le-Châtel in Burgundy, the emphasis of the temple imagery is healing and wellbeing. The horn symbolism here is intense: not only are there several triple-horned bulls at the sanctuary (Chapter 6), but two
associate of the wheel-sign. The most romanized images of the Romano-Celtic sky/sun god include sculptures at Alzey (Rheinland-Pfalz)242 and Alesia,243 which both represent Jupiter, enthroned, in normal Roman attitude, with his usual motifs of a globe (symbolizing his dominion over the world) at Alesia and his eagle (his skyemblem) at both sites. Here it is the decoration on the sides of the throne which betrays the god’s hybrid identity; at Alesia both sides are carved with wheel symbols; at
devotees were frequently portrayed carrying symbolic offerings—a favourite dog (a dualistic image of both gift and healing-symbol) or a purse of money. Images reflect the presence of children and babies as well as adults; and even horses and cattle are represented. In addition to the complete images of supplicants to her 157 Symbol and Image in Celtic Religious Art Figure 69 Wooden image of pilgrim, wearing bardocucullus: Fontes Sequanae. Musée.Archéologique de Dijon. Height 47cm. Illustrator: