Fyra oidentifierade mansben i Skara – en dödlig performance


  • Ingalill Pegelow


Four unidentified men´s legs at Skara – a fatal performance
By Ingalill Pegelow

Skara Cathedral owns, among other things, four reliefs from the Romanesque period, recovered when digging in the ground outside its north portal in 1891. There seems to be no iconographic connection between the four, which are now placed inside the cathedral. One of them is fragmentary and shows only four male legs turned the same way (fig. 1). The two in front seem to ”stand on tiptoe, or jump, or hang loose” as Jan Svanberg writes in his latest book, Medieval Stone sculpture in Västergötland. He is of the opinion that it is impossible to give a close identification of the picture – here an attempt at such an identification will nevertheless be made. In Samuel´s second book (ch 13-18) it is related how King David´s son Absalom, in addition to having killed Amnon, another of David´s sons, conspired against his father and tried to cast him out from power. He then had to flee and was pursued by David´s general Joab. When Absalom came to a terebinth his hair stuck in it and he was left hanging while his mule trotted away. Joab had followed Absalom´s track and now killed him with three spears. This is probably the episode that is shown in the Skara relief even if only the legs of the two involved are visible. But that the
foremost two legs are hanging is clearly seen. There are similar representations in many European manuscripts (fig. 4-8) but also on a capital in the basilica at Vézelay, France (fig. 3) and in a mural painting from 1595 in the chapel of Aspnäs Manor in Uppland (fig. 8).


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Biblia Pauperum. 50 Darstellungen. Herausgeb. von P. Heitz und W. L. Schreiber, Strassburg 1903.
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Christherrechronik (Vu 74a). Handskrift från Bayern. 1400-talet. Nu i Kungliga Biblioteket, Stockholm.
De Rijmbijbel van Jacob van Maerlant: een in 1332 voltooid handschrift uit het Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westre enianum, 1985.
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Pegelow, Ingalill: Gammaltestamentliga berättelser i ord och bild, Stockholm 2009.
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Pegelow, I. (2017). Fyra oidentifierade mansben i Skara – en dödlig performance. Hikuin, 40(40), 109. Hentet fra https://tidsskrift.dk/Hikuin/article/view/109889