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From the past, different cultures and religions have been in the height of usage of various forms of works of art to either establish them culturally or for symbolic reference. The origin of the tetramorphs and the evangelical symbols can highly be attributed from the biblical books more so in the book of Ezekiel in the Old Testaments and the Revelation according to St John the Apollonius in the New Testament.
The origin of tetramoph
Tetramoph can be defined as a combination of four elements that are arranged to show the relationship of those four elements. Many of these tetramoph symbols appear as religious symbols though they can be used for artistic or architecrural designs. Among the most popular uses of tetramoph is in Christianity in the depiction of the four evangelists. These depictions are designed in the form if paneled quarters with a dissimilar symbol in each panel. In many religions of the world, there has been an integration of the tetramoph throughout history in their practice. Some of them include the depiction of these evangelical symbols as paintings or sculptures. In addition, many temple floors are divided into tetramoph. The main aim of having them is to allow different people to unite their distinct and separately seen elements in the effort to show the nature of faith.
A tetramoph can appear in a number of ways. It can unite more than four elements of different things in one object. For instance, a lion can be depicted having an eagles head, a pair of wings and the tail of a snake. The art work unites tetramoph elements into a common theory can be intense and at times horrifying in a way that suggests monsters more than objects of religious worship. The aspect of wings is more present in most tetramorphs regardless of the origin of the tetramorph. This indicates the desire to fly is a culture that is universally admired.
The other way is that a tetramorph may involve four separate and distinct elements which are arranged in order of their symbolic fashion. The elements are displayed at the four corners of a symbolic design which may at times be very ornate. This enables the artist and the believers to highlight the differences between each and every object at the same time integrating them into a unified symbol. Such types of tetramorphs are quit huge and at times may span across floors and ceilings or small enough to fit in the page of a manuscript. Each culture has its own and more often the symbolic meaning of the tetramorph is only made clear to the followers of that particular religion. These are the people who understand the meaning and the references being made to that particular element in the design. However not all tetramorphs have a meaning that is only meant for the member groups, some of them are widely known and are familiar. For example, most of us are familiar with this concept of the four quarters of the wind. Tetramorph are not limited to faith and culture, they can also appear beyond the boundaries of visual art.
The Renaissance Art
These are the sculptures, paintings and decorative arts that were of the period known as the renaissance that eventually became one of the most distinct style in Italy at the fourteenth century. It also covers the achieved developments that were witnessed in the field of science, music, literature and philosophy. This period is perceived as the ‘rebirth’ of ancient traditions and transformed the traditions by absorbing the recent developments in art from northern Europe and application of contemporary knowledge. These changes spread throughout Europe affecting both art and developing new techniques of the new artistic styles. This period marks the transition of the ancient European art of medieval period to modern age.
In the renaissance period cultures changed gradually beginning in Italy in the fourteenth century and spread to Europe in the seventeenth century. The term is more often used to refer to this historic era but because the changes of the renaissance were not uniform in the whole of Europe, it becomes the general use. Traditionally, this intellectual transformation made the renaissance be viewed as the bridge between middle ages and the new era. Although it encountered revolution in many political, social and intellectual pursuits, it managed to positively develop the works of art.
The origin according to the book of Ezekiel and the Revelation
In Christian symbolism, the most developed tetramorph is associated with the four evangelical posts. That is Matthew; the winged man, Mark; the lion, Luke, the ox and John the eagle. These four symbolic elements are the archers who defended Jesus Christ as the truth and the order of God the father. This concept originated from the biblical book of a prophet called Ezekiel who at the time he was on exile in Babylonia described his vision. The vision had the likeness of four living creatures that came out of the midst of the fire. According to the vision of Ezekiel, the creature had the face of a man, a face of a lion on the right, a face of an ox on the side and the face of an eagle.
These four-animal figures are depicted in the book of revelation that features the work St. John Apocalypse. At this time the animals are seen to surround the throne of Christ. In Christianity the tetramorphs were developed quite early in the form of illuminated manuscript of iconography. In this case, tetramorph evangelical can also be found in the Books of Kells notably of sixth century.
The symbolic meaning of the tetramorph
Theology attributes Christian values to each of the four animals of the Christian tetramorph. According to Saint Jerome, Mathew is represented by the winged man, mark by a lion, john by an eagle and Luke by an ox. Following the book of revelation, at the centre of the most Christian tetramorphs is Jesus Christ.
According to astrology, the four live creatures represent the four fixed signs of the zodiac. Aquarius is viewed as the winged man, Taurus as the ox, Leo as the lion and the Scorpio as the eagle. The four fixed symbols represent the limits to which the physical universe is. Pantokrator has the center as Christ who is the ruler.
To understand the meaning of the zodiac signs, it requires one to have a high level commitment in the learning of all the aspects of this art. For a person to enjoy the beauty of astrology there is more than learning the meaning. There is something wonderful and exciting about the learning the characteristics of the zodiac signs. When we happen to look and compare the dates we were born and the corresponding dates on of zodiac signs, we look at our sun signs. This refers to the position of the sun at the time we are born. When we get to learn these ideologies represented by the zodiac, it helps us to know ourselves better as well as the others. In addition, it enhances the compassion and understanding towards others.
The zodiac meaning of the four fixed signs are highlighted below.
Taurus- the bull (April 20- May 20). Just like the animal represented, the symbol is all about stamina, strength and will. Naturally stubborn, the Taurus stands his/her ground till the bitter end. And since the Taurus is a loving, appreciative and sympathetic sign, it is thus a very understanding character. This implies that when we need someone to unburden ourselves with, they are there to receive our deepest share of our fears. The taurians are known for their patience, efficiency and practical ideologies; they are known for their excellence in business and are very wonderful instructors. Even though they usually have their own interest at heart, they are endlessly generous with their time, love and possession.
Leo- the lion (July23- August 22) this zodiac sign is about power, expanse and exuberance. Leo’s are naturally born leaders and they always let each one to know it because they have a tendency of being high minded and always vocal about their stands and opinions. For one who is keen and observant enough, the leos are usually correct and precise on their statements. They usually have a confidence way of analyzing a situation and thus executing swift judgments that are of benefit. They are usually seen as intuitive, brave, willful and strong-headed. Under their dynamic persona lies a very generous sensitive nature loving, that they don’t easily share with others. They might be somehow bossy, but those who know them well understand this comes from a foundation that needs to do superior, not from an inflated ego.
The Aquarius- the water bearer (January 20- February 18) this is often simple and not assuming the Aquarian goes about accomplishing their goals in a quiet, often in unorthodox manner. Although their methods may at times appear to be unorthodox, the results for their achievement are very effective. Aquarian’s will take any cause, and they are the humanitarians of the zodiac. They are very honest, loyal and very intelligent. They are easy going and make natural and easy friendships quit easily. If unchecked, the Aquarian can be prone to idleness and laziness. However, they are aware of themselves, and try their best to inspire themselves to action. However, they are also prone to artistic characteristics, and are often quite philosophical thoughts and poetic.
The Scorpio- the scorpion (October 23- November 21) it is often misunderstood for these personalities are bold and has the ability of executing massive investments with confidence and cool control. They can overcome seemingly all obstacles that appears on their way. They focus t5heir mind to the task and usually have unshakable focus when the situations call for it. They barely observed to be very secretive in a way that they are always observed in their withdrawn manner.
Therefore the understanding of the tetramorph according to Christian is a good example of how syncreticism occurs in a religious symbolism. The Christian version is the most developed of the four evangelists. The notion that Ezekiel’s vision is astrological related from the ancient Babylonian where the Greek zodiacs were developed. These four creatures outlined in the here represent the known fixed cross of the astrologers. St john alludes to the ezekiel’s vision in the book of revelation. Just like the cross, the tetramorphs symbolizes a complex system of elements and relationships that find their origin at the centre. Therefore, the tetramorphs alludes to the quintessence, which is the element beyond the four visible and natural elements of the earth, water air and fire.