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Image of a Black Swordsman in King Solomon’s Court Was a Watershed Moment in European Art

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posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 11:07 PM

The Judgment of Solomon, circa 1220. Stone lintel relief.
This image is part of a weekly series that The Root is presenting in conjunction with the Image of the Black Archive & Library at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.

Standing beside the august figure of King Solomon, a black attendant silently witnesses a novel dispensation of justice by the great king of Israel. The attendant wears a double-layered tunic, cinched at the waist, with closely gathered sleeves around the wrists. The only trace of pigment now remaining on the figure, once brightly painted, is a durable coating of black covering his hands and the characteristically African features of his head. In his left hand he holds a large sword within its scabbard, most of which has been broken away. When it was intact, the lower end of the mighty weapon rested directly on the footstool of Solomon’s throne.

Out of view to the right, a horizontal frieze of figures relates the dramatic struggle over a newborn infant between two women. Only one can be right, and so Solomon adopts the unorthodox but cunning strategy of proposing to split the child between them. The true mother nobly offers to give the baby to the false claimant rather than see it suffer such a horrible fate. Upon hearing this selfless demonstration of maternal love, Solomon reunites the mother with her child.

The moving scene is set over a monumental portal on the north side of the great cathedral at Chartres, not far from Paris. The magnificent building stands as the first fully developed example of Gothic architecture. Carved around 1220, the nearly life-size figures display the recent mastery of naturalistic human form and psychological expression by a host of talented though anonymous sculptors. o_article#

St. Maurice In Magdeburg
Been following this series on the Root for quite sometime now the sculpture is in the same style as the one of St. Maurice in Magdeburg Germany,while the image of St.Maurice of Germany has been well known to me this is the first time I came across the Solomon soldier which is said to be 20yrs earlier.
The Image of the Black in Western Art

About the Series

John and Dominique de Menil were vocal champions of human rights worldwide, focusing their actions on civil rights in particular. In 1960 they launched the ambitious scholarly research project The Image of the Black in Western Art, directed by art historian Ladislas Bugner. Spanning nearly 5,000 years and documenting virtually all forms of media, the unprecedented research project was devoted to the systematic investigation of how people of African descent have been perceived and represented in art. For the first thirty years of its existence, the project focused on the production of a prize-winning, four-volume series of generously illustrated books, The Image of the Black in Western Art. Now, fifty years later, Dominique de Menil’s mission has been reinvigorated through the collaboration of Harvard University Press and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research to present new editions of the coveted five original books, as well as an additional five volumes.

Design & Production

Harvard University Press’s design and production teams are committed to the very highest standards of publishing, and all of the books for The Image of the Black in Western Art have been completely redesigned and typeset to enhance the experience for the reader. So that the artworks can be reproduced as accurately and vividly as possible, we have gone back to the sources for new digital files of all of the thousands of images.
Slide show
Now these vols are pricey they will set you back a $100 bucks a pop I had the first one but it went missing and no body knows nothing.

But I draw alot of my images from these series when making post about early African/Black diaspora.

edit on 25-11-2014 by Spider879 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 11:21 PM
a reply to: Spider879

Cool story. I could make it into a kick ass anime in the Afro Samurai style.....

edit on 25-11-2014 by Thorneblood because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 25 2014 @ 11:38 PM

originally posted by: Thorneblood
a reply to: Spider879

Cool story. I could make it into a kick ass anime in the Afro Samurai style.....

You do know that the Afro Samurai was partly inspired by a real character called Yasuke said to be of likely Angolan or Mozambican origins bought to Japan by the Portuguese, he was assigned to Nobunaga who was curious about him he enlisted in his service given a sword,said to be very strong and fearless in battle,Oda Nobnunaga considered making him a Lord but that didn't happened,after Nobunaga was killed he escaped to his family who sheltered him and then had him spirited away,perhaps to some local European out post..nothing was heard about him since.

posted on Nov, 26 2014 @ 02:49 PM
Been thinking about the sculpture, the mighty builders in Europe of that day were mainly Templars .the Solomonic scene is not there with some random Black thrown in for the sake of decoration or diversity,I have no proof of this but my gut is telling me his being there is an allusion to the Ark of the covenant,which the Ethiopians claimed they have until this day, this period is rife with where the grail may lay ,this may some how be related to the Arthurian legends which includes Sir Mourien,Fairfitz the mixed half Black half white knight and brother to Percival, in this era Christian Europeans to sought an alliance with the legendary Prester John a mighty Black Christian king of the southern lands who could keep the infidel Muslims in check,off course that could only be Christian Axum.
edit on 26-11-2014 by Spider879 because: (no reason given)

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