HYBRIDS
HYBRIDS
image
Lion-headed doorknocker, 11th century, Southern Italy. Cast and engraved bronze, partly inlaid with niello, 44.3 cm. 50/2000

Introduction | Figures | Writing | Geometry | Vegetation | Hybrids

Artisans often combined these four themes within single works of art. This stunning doorknocker, probably made in southern Italy around the year 1100, for example, takes the shape of a lion's head which grasps a cock-headed ring in its maw. His mane is geometricized into a flame-like halo, and the whole composition is surrounded by an Arabic inscription set on a vegetal ground. The inscription, written as if the lion itself were speaking, states "I attest that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His prophet." The inscription is thus a visual pun, written so that when the cock's head strikes the plate, it is as if the lion were roaring forth, attesting to his faith in Islam.