Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val (Tarn-et-Garonne)

12th century female exhibitionist on a 17th century house

In remarkably good condition, like the other corbels from the former abbey's collegiate church,
this superb carving, mounted upside-down, depicts a female being swallowed by the jaws of Hell
as represented by a fine, toothy monster.

It is perhaps the finest of all female exhibitionist carvings.
Stated on a tourist-map of the town to be a depiction of the fourth century
Martyrdom of St Margaret the Virgin
this obvious corbel is also described as part of a fountain from the long-destroyed 12th century abbey:
a (fairly typical French Catholic) prudish explanation of the large vulvic hole at navel-level.

The few extant sculptures of St Margaret are late-mediæval and depict her clothed.
But the misinformation in Saint-Antonn will doubtless continue.

The side view shows that it is a corbel turned upside-down and inserted vertically,
and hence is not displayed at the usual angle of corbel-carvings
The coloured panel to the right is not related, and is probably a separate and earlier insert
in the XVIIth century house on the rue de l'Église.

Compare with a male being similarly swallowed inside the abbey church at Figeac (Lot).

The right way up, with the beast upside-down rather than the exhibitionist.

The large size and circularity of the vulva can be compared with that of a mermaid at Zamora.

Compare also with this carving of Avaritia, banker, or money-lender with money-bag,
being swallowed by a similar hell-mouth,
at Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges (Haute-Garonne)

Another version of the same theme can be seen on a
doorway corbel at Agüero in Spain,
in which the vulva of the concupiscent woman seems to have been filled in recent times with cement.

Compare also with a corbel at Aulnay (Charente-Maritime),
showing an acrobat or jongleur being devoured by the jaws of hell...

...and with a capital at Thiviers (Dordogne)...

click for more 12th century carvings in Saint-Antonin >

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