Gargoyles were originally water spouts in the shape of grotesque creatures, moulded in the form of human, myth, animal or demon. They project from parapet gutters appearing on gothic architecture, cathedrals and churches. Their fundamental function was in draining rainwater from the roof and clearing water from the foundations and wall.
Gargoyle originated from the Latin word “gargoulle”, producing a double meaning `gurgling’ and `throat’. The French word for throat “gargouille” is from a derivative of gargle, generated by the noise of water passing through the statues and spurting out of the mouth.
The imagination of artists, sculptors and architects must have excelled in the creation of such creatures, inspired through their subconscious heaven and hell teachings. The gargoyle guardians were hideously designed to challenge and repel all pending and invasive evil from the building. Unearthed archaeological skeletal animal remains may have contributed to the curious grotesque creations, which became more demonic during medieval times. They were referred to as “chimeras” a combination of prehistoric birds and beasts with wings, incorporating the myths of dragons, griffons, and phoenixes.
There are over one hundred Cathedrals in France alone, disregarding the rest of Europe. America’s older cities New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia’s buildings also inhibit some beguiling and sinister apparitions of gargoyles. Their representation became unfounded when lead drainpipes were introduced in the 16th century, although gargoyles still maintained their domain as the all seeing deviant ones.
With an internal struggle between good and evil, cathedrals and churches provided Sanctuary for believers. Inside, the house of God habits the remains of priests, bishops, saints, with images of Mary and Jesus. Outside high, steely peering down, harbour the goblin, guardians of the skies. Our concept of gargoyles is out of sight, mind and reach, barely noticeable to human eyes, yet they are there. Gazing down, attentively watching us the humans, like working ants obliviously rushing, submerged in thoughts, lost within darting crowds. Peering down, are the guardian demons in the sky.
Gargoyles are a legacy to all those anonymous artists, sculptors and architects allowed to relinquish their fears against the religious control of the hierarchy. By permitting their imagination to soar, it evoked free reign for the creation of the macabre, insatiable, nightmares of the sky.