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square halos

 
 
Equus
 
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2004 01:03 pm
What does it mean, in medieval European art, when holy people are depicted with square, rather than round halos? I think it may mean either that they are still alive (at the time of the painting) or that they are a gospel writer?
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boomerang
 
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Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2004 03:47 pm
Interesting question!

I found this:

The halo thing is actually pretty intricate. There are not only plain round halos, used to signify saints, there's also the cross within a halo, used for Christ; the triangular halo, used for representations of the Trinity; and the square halo, used to depict unusually saintly living personages.

And this:

http://www.uwec.edu/greider/HonorsWorld%20REligions/Cathedral%20Group/Mike%

Here is a very rare hexagonal halo that surrounds the head of Hope one of the three virtues. This halo distinguishes the wearer from ordinary heavenly beings, who have circular halos, and from earthly beings who wear square halos if they wear any at all. This halo seems to set her apart as a person representing an idea or value.

http://www.uwec.edu/greider/HonorsWorld%20REligions/Cathedral%20Group/Mike%

The apostle Paul is seen here surrounded by a square halo that shows him still living on earth at the time the artist wished to portray him. This type of halo set the wearer apart from his or her earthly comrades because the wearer was a more spiritual being, yet they were undoubtedly mortal.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2004 03:48 pm
Sorry, my photos don't seem to work. Try this link:

http://www.uwec.edu/greider/HonorsWorld%20REligions/Cathedral%20Group/Mike%20Tarras/christian%203.htm
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Equus
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 01:04 pm
Thanks! And I thought maybe square halos were for the nerdy saints.
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