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Universals in Apotropaic Symbolism: A Behavioral and Comparative Approach to Some Medieval Sculptures

Christa Sütterlin
Leonardo
Vol. 22, No. 1, Art and the New Biology: Biological Forms and Patterns (1989), pp. 65-74
Published by: MIT Press
DOI: 10.2307/1575143
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1575143
Page Count: 10
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Abstract

Artistic works usually are considered in light of the integrated aspects of their parts and within their cultural context. Figures of apotropaic function and value seem to contradict this holistic paradigm, since single traits are found to reappear under different cultural and historical conditions with exceptional conformity and 'archaic' perseverance. Comparative and cross-cultural studies have yielded some evidence for the interpretation of similar expressions--such as 'making faces', showing the tongue, presenting the buttocks or genitals, etc.--as ritualized forms of a common pattern in human communication.

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