Friday, October 30, 2009

Photo Friday: The Lion of Venice

Here in the centre stand the glass.  Light
Is the lion that comes down to drink. There
And in that state, the glass is a pool.
Ruddy are his eyes and ruddy are his claws
When light comes down to wet his frothy jaws.
-- Wallace Stevens, "The Glass of Water"
The pride of lions -- stone and otherwise -- in Venice numbers in the thousands. For centuries the king of the beasts has served as the emblem of Italy’s gem of the sea. Lions are proud, regal, and powerful creatures -- all characteristics of Venice past and present. But the roots of Venice’s most prevalent symbol are tangled in religious tradition.
Because until more recent centuries most people were illiterate, symbols were used to signify the important figures in the Bible and to help tell the important stories about these people.
  • Matthew: an angel or a winged man
  • Mark: a lion
  • Luke: an ox
  • John: an eagle
  • Jesus: a lamb
The lions in Venice symbolize St. Mark -- the same St. Mark for whom San Marco, Venice’s most important church is named. San Marco houses the remains of St. Mark. In 828 AD a group of Venetians went to Alexandria, Egypt and stole the saint’s relics and brought them back to Venice. San Marco was then built to hold Venice’s most important religious treasures. And the symbol of St. Mark, the lion, came to also symbolize the power and pride of the city as well.

Venice’s lion appears in a variety of media and forms from a mewling kitten to a menacing male. It is often, though not always, depicted holding a book which reads, "Peace to you, Mark, my evangelist." On each trip I take, I choose a photographic theme, and my theme for this trip was Venice’s lion. When I started to look closely, I found that lions stalk every campo, corte, and calle in Venice.

So, I have created a slideshow of some of the photos from my lion hunting in Venice.  Enjoy!

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kerry dexter said...

great to see all the different interpretations of the idea of lion. I think I like the first one, at the top, the most.

Marina K. Villatoro said...

It's incredible how people can do suche amazing things... those pictures are beautiful....

Cate said...

Interesting stuff, I wouldn't have noticed these icons but I'm glad you pointed these out.

Jen@TwoKidsandaMap said...

How cool! I am going to have to remember this when we go to Venice this summer because this will make a great scavenger hunt for my kids as we wander!

Heather on her travels said...

It's sometimes good to have a theme to your sightseeing like this, it takes you into all the nooks and crannies of the city and makes you look a little harder

Angela K. Nickerson said...

@Jen and @Heather: I started having themes for trips because I often revisit the same places multiple times, and I wanted to have fresh eyes. But it does become a scavenger hunt of sorts, and it is a great thing to do with kids!

Carolina said...

I like this idea of the scavenger hunt, and the photos as well. This reminds me of, but doesn't come close, to people who try to find all the hidden Mickeys at Disneyland.

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