And so the magic begins! …The Guardian birds have risen from their hidden hollows beneath the Tor . The precious relics tightly carried in their claws, to a place of safety in the Abbey, where pilgrims and folk from the kingdom of Somerset and beyond can gaze upon them in wonder.
I chose to use the double headed eagle as the guardians of the relics. In the abbey double headed eagles are depicted on medieval terracotta tiles. They were a heraldic emblem, believed to be the coat of arms of Richard, the Earl of Cornwall as King of the Romans. After further research about the bird I found out that in ancient middle eastern cultures the bird was a protective and magical character, while later in the Byzantine period in Greece, Venice and Russia it became an emblem of the empire. Then it was adopted by the patriarch as a symbol of the Orthodox church.
The tiles with yellowing designs are quite worn but you can still see the double headed eagles.
As promised here are the Guardian birds of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere’s relics. The first two of six birds…
Guardian bird of King Arthur’s relics
Guardian bird of Queen Guinevere’s relics
I used letraset for the words on the ribbon … haven’t used that since the early 80’s!
The relics I have made are mostly playful analogies, comparing the Catholic tradition of the veneration of relics with modern day trends and culture and of souvenir gifts.
If you want to know more about the bone and the ribbon read the last post!
You can see these plus the guardian birds of relics of 3 saints and a living legend rock star and more at Glastonbury Abbey’s exhibition Traces Revealed which continues until January 28th 2018.
UPDATE: Now available to buy on my shop: rattraymosaics.co.uk/shop/birds/double-headed-eagles/