Sunday, 24 July 2016

art funéraire

While touring the Île d’Oléron and stopping to explore the village of Saint-Pierre, we were struck by this significant though rather mysterious monument from the Middle Ages.
This model so- called lantern of the dead (lanternes des morts oder Totenleuchte) dates from at least the 1150s appear throughout western France, and though the oldest and highest at twenty-eight meters, inland, it was not visible for great distances—mostly on the periphery of cemeteries, as this one is, probably was kept as an eternal flame or lit to recall the parish to funerary rites. No one knows for certain to their custom and origin, however.
Most presume that these free-standing spires were early dedications akin to wayside shrines (Weg- oder Bildstöcke) that commemorate accidents or escapes on pilgrimage routes, but given their sturdiness and clean polygonal symmetries (the church of the village had similar early gothic angles), people entertain all sorts of influences (cheminées sarrasines they are sometimes called perhaps as a memory from the Battle of Tours) and forgotten rituals, perhaps even originally to purpose as warning of quarantine or danger, despite the continuance of history.