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Designs of symmetrical antithetic animals

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Chapter Summary

Animals in a repeated antithetic symmetrical heraldic composition flanking various objects, especially inscriptions, are popular on mosaic floor panels. The design is usually a pair of animals (sometimes identical) facing each other on either side of an object or an inscription. A symmetrical design of pairs of identical animals flanking vases, plants, or trees appears on synagogue and church pavements. The diagonal composition was one of the arrangements meant to organize the floor as a whole unit achieving several viewpoints; it was perhaps derived from Roman groin vaults; it might have belonged to a class of pavement types imitating ceiling compositions. The antithetic symmetrical design was an integral part of synagogal art and to some extent also of church pavements. This tendency in the heraldic design must have been intentional as it would have been just as easy to portray perfectly identical designs.

Keywords:antithetic symmetrical design; church pavements; diagonal composition; mosaic floor panels; synagogal art



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