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10 s. xii. AUG. 7, 1909.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


Ill


the head of each having the ring nimbus (Creuzer, 'German Atlas,' pi. 31).

Didron draws Maya, the Hindoo goddess, with a cruciform nimbus ( ' Religions de 1'Antiquite,' i. 41).

Moor engraves Krishna in the arms of Devaki, both these Indian deities having the rayed nimbus ('Hindoo Pantheon,' 1870, pi. 59) ; so does Hislop, p. 348.

Many other illustrations of the nimbus, both in pagan and Christian art, will be found in the works I have cited. D. J.

Nimbi, ^we read in Tyrwhitt's ' Art Teach- ing of the Primitive Church,' are supposed to have been originally placed over the heads of marble statues standing in the open air, as a protection from defilement by birds.

Miss Louisa Twining in ' Symbols and Emblems of Early and Mediaeval Christian Art' (1885) remarks that the nimbus, derived from the pagans, appears to have been adapted to sacred subjects about the fifth century. The usual form then was a plain circle placed behind the head, undis- tinguished by any particular mark. One of the most ancient in existence is quoted as to be seen in a mosaic of the fifth century at Ravenna. Therein is a representation of our Lord as the Good Shepherd. The first instance known in which the nimbus is crossed is in a mosaic at the church of S. Lorenzo at Rome. It is sixth-century work, and from that date Christ is invariably drawn with a cross upon His nimbus.

Pugin in his ' Glossary of Ecclesiastical Ornament' (1868), under 'Nimbus,' states that nimbi originally occurred round the heads of kings and " emperors, as well as other persons. Amongst the latter he refers to early images of Eudocia, wife of Basil of Macedon, and her sons Alexander and Leo. It was not until after the eleventh century that the nimbus was exclusively employed to signify sacred persons. He gives illustrations of half a dozen different treatments, and explains that those of the Eternal Father (rarely occurring before the fourteenth century) have rays diverging in a triangular direction from the centre. Our Lord's nimbus is marked by a simple cross before His Resurrection, but is emphasized by more enrichment when He is represented in His glorified state. Our Blessed Lady has often a chaplet of stars around the border of hers; whilst angels, saints, anc martyrs have their nimbi ornamented by small rays within an outer circle of quatre- foils. In the fifteenth century it was noi uncommon for the name of the saint


especially if one of the Apostles) to occur around the circumference. This distin- guished authority adds that Honorius of Autun, describing the nimbus, wrote :

" The luminous circle which is depicted round

he heads of saints in the Church designates

hat, having received their crown, they enjoy

.he light of everlasting glory. The nimbus is

represented round in the form of a shield

because they are defended by the providence

>f God as with a shield."

HABBY HEMS. Fair Park, Exeter.

It would be impossible, I submit, to meet with the nimbus in ancient art in circum- stances without symbolic purpose. The figure of the monk in the MS. cited is very improbably that of the artist himself, since the nimbus in Christian art, at all events until the fourteenth century, invariably marks the saint ; and the artist, if he had Deen a saint in the canonized sense, would lardly have indulged in such a piece of self-glorification as to add this attribute of loliness to his own portrait. Even in Eastern art 'the nimbus denotes physical energy no less than moral strength, and civil or political power as well as religious authority. And in ancient Oriental as well as Western pagan art the disk or circle, corresponding to the nimbus, invariably encompassed the head of the Sun-divinity as a symbol of power.

But Didron says that

" neither the absence nor the presence of the nimbus must be assumed to be an unquestionable proof of sanctity or its reverse, except during the period preceding, and inclusive of, the four- teenth century. After that time, the important signification of the nimbus disappears ; it given or withheld in a somewhat arbitrary manner. But during the thirteenth century, especially in certain edifices where the true signification of the nimbus is observed, we may affirm that the nimbus, when encircling the head of any figure, proves the person represented to have been a saint." ' Christian Iconography, by M. Didron, Bohn, 1851, vol. i. p. 01.

J. HOLDEN MACMlCHAEL.

See F. E. Hulme's ' Symbolism in Christian Art,' 1891, pp. 52 to 72, and 167.

A. R. BAYLEY.


" COFFEE " : ITS ETYMOLOGY (10 S. xii.

64\ MB. PLATT'S interesting note on the

etymology of "coffee" is substantially correct. But he has not, in my opinion, shown why the hv of the Arabic qahvafi becomes sometimes ff and sometimes only / or v It is not sufficient to point out that h tends to be replaced by / in Turkish. The