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Ram's head in the 4 of swords?

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firemaiden's Avatar
firemaiden  firemaiden is offline
keeper of the toaster
Join Date: 07 Jun 2002
Location: Poitiers, France
Posts: 10,828
Ram's head in the 4 of swords?

Any one see the teeny tiny little head of a ram at the bottom of the wall decoration to the right of the stained glass window?

Please tell me, what is this doing there???
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Cerulean's Avatar
Cerulean  Cerulean is offline
Join Date: 26 Apr 2002
Location: Calif., USA
Posts: 9,341

Hello Firemaiden,

My best guess at the moment is the knobby ram's head reference is to the Emporer, which is card number 4. It looks like the edge of decorative frame for the stained glass window and such ornamental details were common in allegorical pictures in the Renaissance.* I checked the astrological reference to the four of swords and it was Jupiter in Libra---I don't know if this has anything to do with your question yet. The astrology is according to Mary Greer's the Essentials of Magic, which suggests astrological/scent correspondence to the cards. More on that musing later.

I checked out the Giant Rider Waite and the knobby Ram's head might also be taken for a little bull's head, but I don't have an association for Taurus in this card. I glanced at two other books that has line drawings from the Rider-Waite Smith and you can make out the decorative detail, but there's not any explanation.

What follows is my own ideas. What I like about the Jupiter in Libra association and the small decorative detail at the end of the window frame is the idea that the Jupiter=Emporer. In my pictorial mind, the ram's head detail is at end of small line near the middle of the picture, almost like a middle of the scale. However on two sides of line, there is an imbalance. To the left, a lovely stained glass picture of a mother and child with a stone bridge or portal in the background. The mother and child is without a father figure and the bridge or portal reminds me of an entrance to a kingdom or what the knight died for, in service to an Emporer or city. To the right, three swords pointed down...and the effigy of a knight lit yellow in the sun with two upraised hands in a prayer position, pointing to the swords and window. It reminds me of turn of 20th century poetry such as Elegy in the Churchyard and another poem with 'gentle sleeper' reference (an English wartime tribute to forgotton grave---I forwarded that one to Joseph Martin, who wanted to name his tarot Gentle Sleeper).

*From what I heard of Waite, he was well-versed in seeing different historical designs and wanted to build/improve and bring what was 'modern' to him about Christianity, certain mythologies and tarot images. Maybe you'd want to start compiling your own list when you check out the cards--does certain details seem like Roman/Christian/Celtic, etc. Thanks for your artistic eye.

Mari H.
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paradoxx's Avatar
paradoxx  paradoxx is offline
Join Date: 25 Nov 2002
Location: US Wyoming, Mountain-Midwest
Posts: 2,276

it looks like a protective statue (like a gargoyle or somethign lke that ) designed to keep away bad spirits (althoough it looks like there may have been a greaverobbing)
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