Friday, 7 October 2011

flory and fitchy or cross moline

The adult daughter of our neighbor has recently returned home to care for her mother and seeing to the considerable undertaking of getting her mother's household in order. The upper suite of rooms are beginning to look more livable and lived-in, and one afternoon, what I first thought was a Saint Stephan's or Patriarchal Cross, appeared in the window--almost like it was taped on. Another neighbour though it was the same thing, although he said it looked like a Saint Andrew's--which actually is the x-shaped one. Later, I was assured it was a bathroom shelf--but I wondered if it might be a sort of scarecrow--something to ward off the heathens whose terrace is just off their house.

I thought the daughter certainly did not want to get in a Cross Battle royale with us. I knew of the variations on cruciform symbols and a little bit about their associated lore and meaning, but I always thought that that the holy magazine was more like an armoury, gruesome and violent, like a museum of archery or spears, and ultimately telling of how saints were posed when martyred. I had not beforehand really associated the different symbols with the language of heraldry, like floried and fitched, reduced to ornaments but originally describing a cross with staves and stakes that could be fixed in the ground. The colourful and exacting terminology of charges, seals and coats-of-arms (Wappen) is a constant and unchanging thing, because there was no means to visually communicate the right tinctures and proportions of how a symbol should look without faithfully reproducing it in the first place. It's funny how a casual and accidental arranging can impart the same sort of associations.