Gargoyles began as decorative waterspouts that carried rain away from the roofs of medieval churches and cathedrals. Nowadays, gargoyles are probably better appreciated for their delightful grotesquerie than they are for any functional use. Many homeowners with a taste for the Gothic enjoy decorating their yards and gardens with gargoyle statues.What are gargoyles used for?
The earliest animal carvings on medieval churches were representations of dragons. These stylized statues became increasingly anthropomorphized over time to represent the agony of trapped souls who would never know salvation. Over time, church gargoyles became less sinister. In contemporary times, these statues offer a Gothic embellishment to rooms and houses that hearkens back to medieval times, providing a touch of the old to everyday locales. Collectors seek out gargoyles for their aesthetic appeal and heritage.What are some types of gargoyles?
Gargoyles were designed to ward off negative presences to churches, and sculptors used various sources for their inspiration. Gargoyle statues typically fall into one of three categories:
- Animals: Dogs and wolves are among the many animals depicted as gargoyles on Gothic buildings. Other animals frequently represented as gargoyles included lions, goats, snakes, and eagles.
- Humans: Humans are not found as often in Gothic architecture as animal gargoyle statues. Representations include disembodied human head whose mouth is contorted in a scream of horror. In these times, it was believed that physical ugliness and deformities were caused by demons.
- Grotesques: Grotesque gargoyle statues include imaginary animals like chimeras and griffins as well as creatures that contain an eerie presence. Many of the more creatures fashioned into gargoyle statues were animals from other parts of the world whose physical properties were exaggerated. This was because few medieval sculptors had ever seen these animals in person. Gargoyle statues like these are a common choice for garden statues.
If you’re interested in collecting gargoyle sculptures, here are some care tips:
- Location: A statue made of resin is appropriate for indoor display. You’ll want your garden statues to be made of stone, however.
- Casting: If you live in a climate with cold winters, ice has the potential to damage your stone gargoyle sculptures. Try to purchase stone gargoyle statues whose wings and other protruding parts are all a single cast statue.
- Maintenance: Make sure to clean your stone garden statue once a year so that moss and lichen don’t start to grow on it. A mild detergent in warm water should do the trick.