The Green Man

Choir stall #19, North side, Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Poitiers
Image credit: Stuart Whatling via MedievalArt.org.uk
It is a man’s face, with oak leaves growing from the mouth and ears, and completely encircling the head. Mr. Griffith suggested that it was intended to symbolize the spirit of inspiration, but it seemed to me certain that it was a man and not a spirit, and moreover that it was a ‘Green Man.’ —Lady Raglan. “The Green Man in Church Architecture.” Folklore. Vol. 50 no. 1 (1939): 45–47. 45.


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Þer hales in at þe halle dor an aghlich mayster,
On þe most on þe molde on mesure hȝe;
Fro þe swyre to þe swange so sware and so þik,
And his lyndes and his lymes so longe and so grete,
Half etayn in erde I hope þat he were,
Bot mon most I algate mynn hym to bene,
And þat þe myriest in his muckel þat myȝt ride;
For of bak and of brest al were his bodi sturne,
Boþ his wombe and his wast were worþily smale,
And alle his fetures folȝande, in forme þat he hade,
ful clene;
For wonder of his hwe men hade,
Set in his semblaunt sene;
He ferde as freke were fade,
And oueral enker-grene.
—British Library Cotton MS Nero A. X


Green Man Corbel, Bamburg Cathedral

Depending on how you look at this corbel supporting a foliated ledge under a statue of a horse and rider, the eyes appear to follow you. 

Comments