Animals as elements of ornamental composition
by Oľga Danglová
Zoomorphic motifs were frequently represented in the folk decorative tradition of Slovakia. In folk imagery and ornamental depictions, animals sometimes appeared in connection and senses similar to those of antique symbolism. The peacock, like in the folk environment, was also connected with the image of beauty and pride in ancient times, while the snake was a symbol of evil and darkness. Christian iconography and symbolism is linked to antique heritage. According to the biblical interpretation, the snake was again a representative of evil, temptation and sin. The snake personified the devil in Christian art. However, in different sensual connections it could also take on more positive features. Wound around a tree of life it represented wisdom and kindness. In the folk decorative tradition, the depiction of the snake in connection with the biblical story of Adam and Eve enjoyed the greatest popularity.
Animals as personifications of folk character features: cunningness – the fox, power and royalty – the lion have become part of the European tradition of animal fables, which lasted from medieval times practically up to current times. On our territory, illustrated stories with a moral were preserved as a unique renaissance printout from the 16th century, and later similar renaissance woodcuts appeared in numerous titles intended for the general folk classes.
The mediating influence of heraldry, which contributed significantly to the generalization of zoomorphic motifs, can be seen in use of zoomorphic elements in the folk ornamental tradition. The decorative form of zoomorphic motifs in Central European countries was strongly influence by the book of patterns by Johann Sibmacher “Schon Neues Modelbuch”, published in Nurnberg in 1597.
Apart from motifs of birds in the collection of zoomorphic motifs as part of folk ornamentals, the most popular and mostly represented were motifs of deer, sheep, ram, snake, horse, lion, less fish and unicorn.
Further articles of magazine Craft, Art, Design 02/2001:
- On tradition (not only on wood)
- Daniela and Miro Mládenkas SO FAR
- The original journey of Peter Strassner
- What is the destiny of wooden toys?
- Animals as elements of ornamental composition
- Creation connected to nature
- Material for the whole life