Open main menu

Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/180

This page needs to be proofread.

its protection skulls were hung upon these extremities; and when stone buildings came to be erected with parapets upon them, then under the string--course that marked the wall--plate corbels were added, and the place of the skulls was supplied by stone figures representing the heads of men or beasts. This was not the case only in Gothic architecture; the same adaptation or modification may be seen in that of Greece and Rome, where the skull, mainly of an ox, forms a principal feature in the ornament of an external cornice, and seems to indicate that in early days the heads of the victims sacrificed were thus employed.

Nowadays the sportsman nails up the skulls and antlers of the stags he has shot, or the masks of foxes he has hunted, in his hail; but in Bavaria and Austria they still decorate the exterior as well as the interior of the shooting-lodge. There exists naturally in every sportsman an ambition to bring home and exhibit some trophy of his exploits; and as at the present day his energies and barbarous instincts are confined to the slaying of wild animals, it is only the heads of wild animals that he can display to his own satisfaction and that of admiring friends.

But it was otherwise when war was the