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Architectural Dragons by Jeff Bronson
Grotesques, such as dragons and gargoyles, have always been thought of as symbols of strength, protection, and serendipity. That said, it is quite understandable why they have been a part of architecture for hundreds of years.
However, at first, these wonderful statues were created for much more mundane uses. They were actually created as water spouts proposed to keep rain water from pooling around Gothic cathedrals and castles and causing harm to the structures.
When building procedures improved and pooling water no longer presented a danger to the structures, the grotesques remained, but now more of an adornment. Originally, “gargoyles” was the wide-ranging designation for these types of sculptures. The statues were commonly modeled after people or domesticated animals, as well as characters of religion and lore. Those with more horrifying or disfigured appearances were given the label “grotesques.”
Dragon figurines hold a special status in Imperial China and were only permitted to be placed on the most official structure. Dragon images and figures can be discovered on pillars, doors, beams, and roofs. However, you would never find dragon symbology on common buildings, it was distinctly for the elite class.
Other instances of dragon architecture portray legend and lore. Dragons are the official emblem of Ljubljana, Slovenia, coming from the stories of Jason and the Argonauts slaying the diabolical dragon. Possibly you are familiar with the world-famous Dragon Bridge.
Many cities are proud to welcome dragons into their towns. Both Pittsburg and London have opened their arms to dragons. In fact, you can even take a walking excursion of Pittsburg to seek outthe gargoyles and dragons that live within the city.
Maybe you have heard of the famous gargoyles that watch over Notre Dame in Paris.
While the National Cathedral in Washington is known for its magnificent gargoyle statues, they are not the same breed as you’ll come across at Notre Dame. In the 1980s, National Geographic’s World magazine partnered with the cathedral to set up a contest that asked children to design the sculptures that would grace the cathedral. And that is how this extraordinary building ended up with a contemporary dragon statue of sorts: the helmet of Darth Vader. And also one of a raccoon, a computer, a robot camera, and a bunch of other characters, including one with a gas mask, designed to protect us in a future run rampant with technology and unseen possibilities.
The next time you pass by an old church, whether it be one lost to time or one still used for services, look carefully at the stonework. You will be surprised to notice how many gargoyles and dragons are guarding us.
About the Author
Jeff Bronson is the owner of Obscuria.com, a darkly unique Gothic shop. Obscuria offers a
quality selection of href=”http://www.obscuria.com/gothic/category/Dragon_Figurines/Dragon-
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