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Saturday, 27 June 2015

A HORN OF ABUNDANCE | THE CORNUCOPIA AS ORNAMENT | Ornament horn of abundance carved in wood | Horn of Plenty

Cornucopia carved in wood

The Horn of Abundance, 
(in Latin cornucopiae)

The Horn of Abundance (Cornucopia) made in wood, as an ornament.

The Horn of Abundance is a symbol of abundance, wealth and food; a big horn-like tube full with fruits, vegetables, flowers, nuts and other symbols, like coins. It comes from the classical antiquity. In our contemporary-western culture it does not have any other symbolism, but in North America it is mainly associated with Thanksgiving

Statue in the gardens of Versailles

Classical Mythology, The Cornucopia.

Classic Mythology offers multiple explanations for the origin of the Cornucopia. One of the best known explanations includes the birth and care of the infant Zeus, who needed to be hidden from his father Kronus to avoid being devouring. In a cave of Mount Ida, on the island of Crete, baby Zeus was cared a number of different divine attendants, including the goat of Amalthea, who fed him with her milk.  
The infant Zeus, de future king of the gods, had unusual skills and strength, and when playing with his nanny (Amalthea), he accidentally broke one of her horns. He gave the horn a very special power: the horn would fill with anything that his owner would wish. Later, the horn was given to the daughters from the king and from that moment the horn became a symbol of abundance. 
The one, who possessed it, would never suffer hunger.  

In the gardens of Versailles

In another myth, the horn of abundance was made when Heracles (Roman Hercules), who wrestled with the god of the rivers Achelous, and during the fight Achelous wrenched off one of his horns; River gods were sometimes depicted as horned. The naiads (nymphs) took care of the horn and filled it with fragrant flowers. Later, the goddess of abundance Copia took the horn as her possession, giving it the name of cornucopia.  

Heraldry and two cornucopia as an ornament | Streets of Heidelberg (Germany)

The cornucopia became the attribute of several Greek and Roman gods, particularly those related with harvest, prosperity and spiritual abundance, such as personifications of the Earth (Gaia or Terra) the nymph Maia and Fortuna.

Contemporary representation

The uses and Symbolism of the Horn of Abundance (Cornucopia)
In the modern interpretation the Horn of Abundance is typical hollow, horn-shaped wicker basket, filled with various kinds of festive fruits and vegetables. 
In North America, the Cornucopia is associated with Thanksgiving and harvest. The Horn of Abundance is also the name of an annual Wine and Food Festival held in November in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.

Great seal of North Carolina

Two cornucopias are shown in the flag of the state of Idaho. The Great Seal of North Carolina shows the figure of Liberty –standing- and Plenty –setting down- with a Horn of Abundance in her left hand.
Colombia, Panama, Peru and Venezuela all have a cornucopia in their arms shield.
The Cornucopia is also often used as a symbol in the heraldry.

Great seal of Idaho

The Cornucopia as ornament.
Making a Horn of Abundance in wood, stone or clay.

In my many visits to museums, castles or antiques fairs, I have encountered very often with decorative ornaments in architecture, or as an ornament, or in stone vases, statues or fountains.  
In furniture and joinery the Horn of Abundance can be produce as a decorative element in a composition of ornaments, used in the wood paneled walls or sculpture boiserie (carved wood paneling) of interiors. The thickness of the ornament in a boiserie is always greater than in the furniture’s from Liege.

Therefore, it is easier to create a Cornucopia in wood, in a composition with depth and character. Because the Horn of Abundance requires a minimum thickness of wood, and in order to allow the character of the ornament to show off, they will be present more frequently in the form of a crest or pediment (fronton) in furniture.  

So, it is an ornament, which, when you really begin to pay attention, is use very much in the ornamentation and in the most varied applications.

 Translation Lis Alvarado

Two horns of Abundance carved in wood and gilded | Versailles

Cornucopia and the figure as part of a cabinet, Musée des Arts Décoratifs Paris

A horn of Abundance with flowers | Gardens of Versailles

Carving a horn of Abundance | The cornucopia as ornament


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Saturday, 13 June 2015

Green Man or a Leaf mask as ornamental decoration | Bamberg Green Man | THE ACANTHUS MAN | Bamberg

The Green Man or Acanthus Man.
The “Groene Man” is the Dutch translation of the English term 'Green Man'. Although less well known than in neighboring countries Green Men are also commonly found in the Netherlands and Belgium. In the literature it is also referred to as a mask of leaves or acanthus man.

The Bamberg Green ManBamberg horseman

Not long ago I was a guest for few days in Bamberg, in the northern part of Bavaria, in Germany. The historic center of Bamberg is very beautiful and has much to offer, especially in the cultural field and has numerous historic buildings, museums and churches.

One of the attractions that I had on my list of “things to see” and that should not be missed was the “Groene Man” or the Green Man in the Bamberg Cathedral.

The Green Man from Bamberg Cathedral is an ornament – console/corbel made of sandstone which works as support of the Bamberg horseman, a beautiful sculpture from around 1240. The Bamberg Green Man console/corbel from the 13th century is an acanthus leaves motif, and has a nice human form, this type of ornament is a beautiful example, and it is one of my personal favorites.


A Green Man is usually an ornamental addition or embellishment.
Most Green Men are found in Christian churches, finding the vast majority in England, France and Germany and were mainly used in Western architecture from the 11th to the 16th century. They are not always easy to recognize, often they are hidden behind stalls or are located high in the structure of the ceiling, but mostly they are just in plain sight and on columns, corbels or above the main doorways.

In terms of size, they range varies from small images to life-size images. They can also be found, although less frequently, in other secular and ecclesiastical buildings or to decorate the graves and memorials.

The interior of a Green Man can be made of stucco or feature polychrome. They could be made of wood and found in church furniture.
Generally it is a human head, but it can also be an animal figure. From the openings of the face grow branches with leaves or a composition of acanthus leaves. The often fierce-looking figures were made to keep away the evil spirits. This use was already known throughout Europe for many centuries. Celts, Greeks and Romans knew that the heads would have vegetation growing through the holes of the face. Also in ancient Asian and American cultures this figures were used.

Bamberg, In the background Bamberg Cathedral

The Green Man is seen as the archetype of the male productive energy of the earth. In ancient mythology of many cultures it is the companion of Mother Nature, and their lusty association creates fertility every spring, again and again.

The figure of Christ was portrayed too as a Green Man; having a plaited crown of thorns leaves growing out of his head.

In England, the Green Man is a popular part of the tradition. Quite a few pubs are called The Green Man, because the image at the entrance. In a Scottish church, the Rosslyn Chapel in Roslin in Edinburgh, more than 100 images of a Green Man were found.

Translation, Lis Alvar R

Here are some images of the  
Bamberg Green.


The Bamberg Green Man


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