Gargoyle statues are a very controversial subject. They are believed by many to Ward off evil. That is one of the main reasons they are so popular. There have been many articles written about gargoyles. What do they represent? Do they have a meaning of some sort? are they symbolic for something? They come in so many different forms from happy to scary and even evil looking. As well as rebellious ones with mohawks. It appears that, according to some artist that gargoyles are even hatched. All though most articles you will find, about gargoyles is that they protect us from evil. A lot of people collect gargoyles for their garden or their home believing gargoyles ward off evil. That belief is just fine if you want to leave it at that.
Other writers that have written about gargoyle concentrate on the definition of the word. Which is, a gutter or a downspout that is attached to the church or more a Gothic cathedral. The modern gargoyle has deviated a lot from what was on our Gothic churches of long ago. Like the Cathedral of
Notre Dame which has around 5000 gargoyles on it and is an architectural wonder of the world. Is fantastically beautiful (see our “Gargoyle” page) with or without the gargoyles. However the gargoyles are still there staring at us. So we have to say something about them, we surely can just overlook the gargoyles and ignore them. That being said gargoyle statues have went many different directions with modern artists interpretation of gargoyle statues that adorn these old Gothic cathedrals. Modern artists have depicted them as either a whimsical fun and they are. Many of the modern versions bring a smile to your face. Other gargoyles are depicted as evil or demonic and some just downright creepy. These types of gargoyles too have a popularity and fan base. I suppose that is due to, them just being bad or mean in a way people can relate to. So it goes from one extreme to the other, that is funny to the evil and of course everything in between. Gargoyle
have even made there appearance. We have laughing and snickering gargoyles to Guardian gargoyles that protect us from evil. Gargoyles as you can see have become much more than just gutters and downspouts they have become what is often referred to as grotesques. Grotesques have nothing to do with downspouts, they are just statues that adorn Gothic cathedrals. As well as other buildings during the Middle Ages. That is not to say gargoyles completely died out in the 1500s in fact they mysteriously found their way onto the Chrysler building, the tower of big Ben and many other buildings since they were popularized in the Middle Ages by Gothic cathedrals. They have become increasingly more popular over the years.
Today we do not see gargoyles on buildings very much, but the popularity continues. In the form of statues, sculptures and even paintings. You don't hear the word grotesque much anymore either. They have also been referred to as "Unclean Monkeys". Again with a evil or wicked connotation to them.
"What are these fantastic monsters doing in the cloisters under the very eyes of the brothers as they read? What is the meaning of these unclean monkeys, strange savage lions and monsters? To what purpose are here placed these creatures, half beast, half man? I see several bodies with one head and several heads with one body. Here is a quadruped with a serpent's head, there a fish with a quadruped's head, then again an animal half horse, half goat. Surely if we do not blush for such absurdities we should at least regret what we have spent on them."
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Were they absurd as St. Bernard declares? or were they just misunderstood by St. Bernard as being unclean? are they of the Devil or demonic in their nature. " Unclean" is usually a biblical term for impure or morally wrong. Then why are the Gothic churches decorated with gargoyles? if they are evil or morally wrong? it would seem to be a contradiction with them being on churches wouldn't it? Gargoyle statues and sculptures have been of such interest we have dedicated a Page just to the meaning of gargoyles I think you will enjoy it. As it should shed some light on these questions. You can check it out here at our “Gargoyles” page.