When did you last think about death and life after this? Do you think there will be beasts and monsters…?! If you had lived in the middle ages that would have been something completely natural.
Here are lots of photos from old churches in Gotland, Sweden, on the theme angels and devils, good and evil, this life and the life after death.
Above weighting of the soul, below a painting of our life in between heaven and hell. Where will we go when death comes to collect our soul…?
Have you done good or bad things in your life? If your soul is to be measured by angels and devils, which side will win…?!
Below a knight has died and a devil-like creature with a head on his stomach collects the soul coming out of the mouth.
Christian church art, paintings and sculptures, from the Middle Ages has always fascinated me. It is filled with life – death, good – evil, angels – devils / monsters, salvation – condemnation, hope – despair, martyrs, horror, beasts, women, man, animals, Christ, Satan, heroic actions and ill beings.
Below the Dome church in Visby with monsters och beasts.
I love the naive, fantastic art style, the bestiary. And the fact that these beasts rest on a very old tradition. We lost contact with it long ago. But the images still speaks to us.
In medieval times death was much more a reality to people in the everyday life. Women died when giving birth to children. The black plague terrorized Europe. Many people where poor and died from lack of food. Sickness often lacked a cure, even a normal cold could end up with death. It is no wonder the religious art of the time reflected this reality. You always had to be prepared for life after this!
The man above is headless, he is a monster with the head on his stomach. The text says “Exira”, but I can´t find a referens to that. Do you know anything?
Could this be a bear above? And below is “Monstra”, the terrifying man with one big foot! A man from the “monstrous races” living in the “East”. This race had a very big foot which made them very fast! And they could use it as an umbrella! Everyone new this was the truth…
A dragon or a tiger below?
There are almost 100 medieval churches on he island Gotland in Sweden, many of them very well preserved and most of them still in use. I love them and their wall art. It is so beautiful, serious, humoristic, calming and at the same time calling for you to reflect on your life…
You can never relax, there are evil beasts everywhere…
Beyond here, there be dragons… Beware! Reflect upon your life!
Guess the animals, not so easy! (Sorry for bad photo quality here and there.)
I took these photos last summer, on my vacation on Gotland. The weather was rainy, we had a car and time to spare. I grabbed the chance, a map, and told my husband where to drive. (Sometimes he stayed in the car… His interest for medieval church art is not on my level.) I was happy!