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An academic study ... who would've known? An image or symbol which can be found in Iran and Ecuador. In Ireland part of a ritual outside of the Catholic Church to seek fertility and in the 20th century to empower women in opposition to church teachings of Marianism, virtue and subordination to man. Quite interesting, a long read ...

The Sheela-na-gig: An Inspirational Figure of Contemporary Irish Art
Thesis by Sonya Ines Ocampo-Gooding


Sculptures of nude feminine figures with displayed genitalia have a long history. Art historian Douglas Fraser explores the complex theme of the "heraldic woman" motif, which is a displayed female figure exposing her genitalia and symmetrically flanked by contrasting figures. The heraldic woman motif has appeared in places such as Luristan (Iran), New Zealand and Ecuador. Fraser describes the connection between the heraldic woman motif, through its use in the Italian Romanesque capitals of churches (which reflected the themes of Ancient Near Eastern models) and the grotesque, exposed Sheela-na-gig images on English and Irish Norman churches. Fraser concludes that the displayed female image is not only "unusually compelling", with the power to attract good or repulse evil, but public self-exposure is also an act of "enormous consequence" reserved for extreme moments of our life experience, such as birth and death. Sheelas in Ireland may well have served different purposes at different times, and the location of a Sheela is crucial to its understanding. The thesis will focus onthe Sheela-na-gig's of two particular churches, Killinaboy and Ballyvourney, and examine them in the context of other Sheelas in Ireland.


Eamonn Kelly, Keeper of Antiquities atthe National Museum of Ireland, considers the development of the Sheelas in Ireland as part of a larger decorative scheme fromthe continent, whereby the Sheelas evolved from part of a collective grouping to single figures in isolation following the Norman invasion of 1169. I will also consider theories of what inspired the creation of the Sheelas, including both Christian and pre-Christian sources. Kelly has proposed that the Sheela's origins in the Romanesque style of architecture are tied to the age of Christian pilgrimage to the important shrines of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and Rome during the second half of the eleventh century to the end of the thirteenth century. The pilgrims sought to be spiritually whole and free from worldly sins such as lust, which had been portrayed as a naked woman surrounded by serpents eating her breasts and genitalia. [Yoni]  

Further reading ...

The Role of Shamanism in Mesoamerican Art
Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh
The Divine Hag of the Christian Celts - Paperback Illustrated

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 05:30:07 PM EST

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