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Continuity of Images

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One of the primary themes of this blog is the astonishing continuity of certain primary cultural forms, which Adolf Bastian referred to as Elementargendanke, or elementary ideas, and which Carl Jung later termed archetypes of the collective unconscious.

In my reading this morning, I came across a marvelous Elamite alabaster statue depicting a regal male subject bearing a sacrificial goat. Currently housed at the Louvre, it comes to us from Susa (in present-day Iran) from the Early Dynastic, circa 2450 BCE.

Jump ahead nearly 2,000 years, and we find an exceptional Attic marble sculpture of a bearded man carrying a calf offering to the goddess Athena, from the Archaic period circa 570 BCE. It is housed at the splendid Acroplois Museum in Athens, which is one of the great museums.

And, nearly 2,000 years after that masterpiece was carved, we find a beautiful statue of John the Baptist carrying Christ in the form of a sacrificial lamb, which decorates the North Transept Portal of the Cathedral of Notre Dame at Chartres, completed in the mid-thirteenth century CE.


Written by Mesocosm

March 9, 2013 at 11:51 am

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