Peacock as a Sign in the Late Antique and Early Christian Art
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In the art of late antiquity and early Christianity, during the Christian Middle Ages to the present, peacock holds a prominent place, not only as a decorative motif, but also as a distinctive emblematic and symbolic sign. Veneration and breeding of this bird is dating back to distant past. Owing to the beauty of his plumage and splendid tail, peacock has early got a lot of symbolic functions, causing he to become a very frequent artistic motif. Because of his protective functions, he is a characteristic sign in funerary art. On this example, the transposition of the same motif from pagan to Christian iconography is most noticeable. He is usually combined with a kantharos or a tree of life. These scenes are common in the late antique and early Christian fresco painted tombs from the territory of modern Serbia. Individually or in pair, he is usually represented on places which are the ones closest to the holiest part of churches (altar’s parapet wall panels). His ornamentation is visib...le on floor mosaics, which are often a sole testimony of the decoration of public buildings from the early Christian period, and whose remains can be found on the territory of the Roman provinces on the Central Balkans.
Keywords:peacock / sign / art / painting / late antiquity / early Chriistianity / tombs / frescoes / mosaic
Source:Archaeology and Science / Arheologija i prirodne nauke, 2011, 6/2010, 231-248
- Belgrade: Center for New Technology; Archaeological Institute Belgrade