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OTRANTO CATHEDRAL MOSAICS

MONTHLY ACTIVITIES AND ZODIAC SIGNS

IN THE DEEP SOUTH OF ITALY

 

LINK TO OTHER PHOTOS FROM INSIDE THE CATTEDRALE

 

 

The monthly activity mosaic roundels date from the 1160s.  Partly because they are so big, they are the most detailed and interesting of the many versions of this theme that we have seen in Europe.

 

Links to all Paradoxplace pages about medieval illustrations of Labours of the Month, Zodiac Signs,

Cardinal Virtues and Sins in Western European churches.

 

 

May - The joy of Spring

Taurus - the Bull

 

 

 

The Otranto Monthly Activity / Zodiac Links

The first month, January, is linked to Capricorn the sea goat, rather than the more usual Aquarius the water carrier.

 

January

Hand warming

Capricorn - the Sea Goat

February

Spit roasting

Aquarius - the Water Carrier

March

Foot cleaning

Pisces - the Fishes

April

Taking sheep to pasture

Aries - the Ram

May

The joy of Spring

Taurus - the Bull

June

Reaping and stacking

Gemini - the Twins

July

Threshing

Cancer - the Crab

August

Grape harvest

Leo - the Lion

September

Pressing grapes

Virgo - the Virgin

October

Ploughing

Libra - the Scales (le balance)

November

Cutting wood (with packed lunch)

Scorpio - the Scorpion

December

Cinghiale killing time

Sagittarius - the Archer

 

LINKS TO LOTS OF OTHER ZODIAC / LABOURS CYCLES IN CHURCHES OF ITALY, FRANCE, ENGLAND AND SPAIN

 

 

 

 

Buy from Amazon USA

 Buy from Amazon UK

 

 

 

 

 

At the moment (early 2008) there don't seem to be any copies of the 1990 / 2005 edition of this magnificent hard cover art book available at Amazon, but we have seen second hand copies being offered on the web. 

 

One option would be to contact the Cattedrale bookstall (where we bought our copy in 2006 for about 80) directly (in Italian!):

 

Piazza Basilica, 1, Otranto, Lecce 73028 - Italy

Phone: +39 (0)836 802720

 

 

This very compressed version of an illustration from the above book shows the layout of the monthly activity / Zodiac roundels, which are just to the west (underneath) of the crossing and span the entire width of the nave.  January is top left, then read as you would script to December in the bottom right hand corner.

 

The book contains full page photos of each of the roundels and equivalent detail of all the other mosaics.

 

 

September - Pressing grapes

Virgo - the Virgin

 

 

A dimensionally larger (but much slimmer and much cheaper - 10) soft cover alternative (2001) is shown below.  The cover also shows the monthly roundels, this time starting from January in the bottom left and going clockwise.  The book has a good selection of detailed photos printed on good quality paper, and includes German and English translations of the (fairly brief) text.  We bought this book in Lecce - Congedo Editore is based in Galatina.

 

 

 

 

Interestingly, the last four months of the year are spelled with a "-ber" rather than "-bre" - something we have noticed elsewhere in Italy as well.

 

 

January - hand warming by the fire

Capricorn - the Sea Goat

 

 

February - spit roasting a pig

Aquarius - the Water Carrier

(postcard)

 

 

July - threshing

Cancer - the Crab

(postcard)

 

 

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All original material Adrian Fletcher 2000-2015 - The contents may not be hotlinked, or reproduced without permission.