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Mandorla


Mandorla

The Mandorla, a symbol that is all but unknown today. It was used during the times of medieval Christianity. It is an ancient symbol of two circles coming together, overlapping one another to form an almond shape in the middle. Jensen (1996) describes the Mandorla as similar to the image of two Mandalas(Sanskrit word for circle) merging together until an almond shape is formed in the center. Also known as the "Vesica Piscis", symbolizing the interactions and interdependence of opposing worlds and forces. The circles may be taken to represent spirit and matter or heaven and earth(Baldock, 1990).

Mandorla is the Italian word for almond. According to Biedermann (1994), the almond is an ancient symbol for the closing up of valuable contents in a hard, almost impenetrable shell. During the medieval times, the almond was interpreted as a symbol of the embryo enclosed in the uterus. The form of the almond which suggests a stylized vulva may have contributed to such an interpretation(Biederman, 1994). It is also a variant of a halo which surrounds the whole body of the holy person(Bruce-Mitford, 1996).

According to Fontana(1994), the Mandorla symbolizes power as well as spirituality, and is often appeared around the body of Christ to represent the Assention (Fontana, 1994).


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