Tattoo Ideas: Gargoyle Tattoo Designs (With Images)
The History of Gargoyles
Gargoyles are grotesquely carved stones with spouts designed to route water away from the roof and building sides when it rains. From the French gargouille and the Latin gurgulio, both meaning "throat" or "gullet," gargoyle construction dates back to the Ancient Greeks. They became more popular in medieval times (around the 1200s) and were used throughout Europe, Egypt, and Greece to divert water.
According to legend from 631 A.D., a chancellor of king Clotaire II rescued the country around Rouen from a monster called Gargouille. The creature was captured by a single volunteer—a condemned man. The grotesque features of the gargoyle were purported to scare off evil spirits. As such, the gargoyle became a symbol of protection.
What Gargoyles Represent
- Warding off Unwanted Spirits
Starting in the 19th century, gargoyles, also known as chimeras, were widely used as decoration on city buildings and churches, with the focus no longer on water diversion. Gargoyles were now placed on important edifices as a symbol of protection.
Gargoyle myth says that gargoyles can endlessly stand guard and ward off unwanted spirits—that is why they have to be frightening and disfigured. They come alive only at night, and gargoyles with wings can fly around protecting the entire village come nightfall, returning to their post when the sun rises.
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Why I'm Interested in Gargoyles
When I was in high school, some friends of mine told me about an abandoned mansion along a dirt road off Route 537 in Springfield. It was shrouded behind trees opposite a cornfield that came in handy for hiding a car in between the rows of cornstalks when we went there one afternoon.
Cops patrolled the old dirt road regularly; the mansion was a known site for trespassing. You couldn't even see the structure from behind the thick pines. But my friends had been there before, so they knew the way.
An Abandoned Gothic Mansion
I will never forget when we came to the clearing twenty seconds later. Suddenly, the massive trees parted, and there before me stood an enormous three-floor mansion. I was unprepared that first time we went there; I had never seen anything like it in any of my seventeen years on Earth. It was enormous, a massive Gothic villa with crosses on the apexes and a cupola on the roof. And there were gargoyles everywhere along the underside of the roof.
There Were Gargoyles Everywhere
It was those touches of elaborate crosses and looming gargoyles that made it most memorable upon first glance. On the left side was what appeared to be some sort of carport (I later learned this was called a porte cochere, and this is where horse-drawn carriages would pull up to drop off their passengers). The windows and doors were boarded up, but we were able to get in through a small basement window.
Shaded by a thick mass of overgrown trees and without any electricity, the home was cloaked in darkness, and I couldn't see a thing as we crossed the basement and headed up the stairs to the main floor, but I knew I was surrounded by a mess of boxes or furniture or whatever else cluttered the space below the ground.
We Explored Until We Got Spooked
The first floor held a grand main staircase that spiraled up to the third level, but we did not climb up it, not that day, not then. Instead, we explored the main floor with its confusing, disorienting floor plan, passing through door after door leading to room after room. It was magnificent, even with the deterioration and rampant vandalism; you could tell this place was special. It was getting late, and something spooked us, so we left, with plans to return when it was light outside.