The Library

Animals > Lambs

1. Lamb

 

This 17th-century carving has been made as a reliquary to house small pieces of bone or other relics of a saint.  It has been carved in the round, then cut in half and reassembled with an internal dowel between the ears that allows the two halves to rotate to reveal a completely hollowed-out interior.  Once the sacred objects have been placed inside, the lamb can be reassembled and held together with iron hooks along the back and underneath.  It was probably made to sit on a cloth by an altar, but is now mounted on a metal stand.

The lamb is a symbol of Christ and appears in different guises to reinforce different aspects of Christ’s story.  Here the posture of the lamb indicates that its feet are tied and symbolizes Christ’s future sacrifice.  The original paint is pink, a mixture of red and white. Red is the colour of blood, symbolic of love and hate and the Church’s colour for martyrdom, while white refers to innocence and purity, the colour worn by the clergy in the Early Christian period, still in liturgical use for Christmas, Easter and Ascension.

 

 

2. Lamb

 

This 17th-century carved lamb has original polychrome decoration.  The purpose of the carving is to make the observer concentrate on death and prepare for life after death. The lamb is seated on top of a book and sarcophagus from which seven seals hang down.  The lamb is white for purity and innocence and is the colour Christ wore after the Resurrection, and the banner it supports on its back is the banner Christ held at the Resurrection.  The sarcophagus is also a reference to Christ’s tomb.  The book is the book of the seven seals referred to in Revelations; it contains all the secrets of the future known only to God but the wisdom contained within it can be acquired through the lamb – Christ – who alone can unlock the seals.  By focusing on Christ’s death and Resurrection man must contemplate his own death and realize that only by following the Lamb will he gain access to a satisfactory afterlife. 

 

 

3. Lamb

 

This naively carved panel shows the Lamb of God, the Agnus Dei, standing above four lancet windows high up in another pointed arch, as if in a church window.  The design is squared off by the two flowers in spandrels at the top.The Lamb is triumphantly supporting the banner of victory to show that though it has been sacrificed it has survived.

English public houses often have names derived from religious imagery, The Lamb and Flag being an obvious example.