This is a very special sculpture to me called the Four Tetrarchs. It currently sits in Venice (just another reason to like it) right beside St. Mark's cathedral on the south side, where you can just walk over and give one of the sculpted imperial Roman kings a high five. Or, maybe tell them a joke in Latin.
It originally was atop a column in the Eastern Empire sculpted sometime in the early third century and was brought to Venice after the Fourth Crusade. Notice how it seems to be a bit more medieval in styling than the traditional Hellenistic 'perfect' statuary? I guess fighting off invading hordes messes up your ability to concentrate on masterful art. Most of the art I've seen from Constantinople and the East is a little less refined.
The statue is made from porphyry, which is one of my favorite stones because of the rich purple color and white flecks (phenocrysts) in it. In ancient times, it was illegal to even possess it because it was associated only with royalty. 'Born into the purple' was a euphemism for high class until at least the early 1990's where the connotations of 'Barney the Purple Dinosaur' became too much for the tradition to hold.
Porphyry itself is extremely hard and thereby quite a challenge to carve even with my diamond tools. It rates a 7 on the MOHs scale being basically a special volcanic glass, but I prefer to think of it somewhere between 7 and 8 yet somehow softer than that breakfast cereal my grandfather ate, what was it called, Grape Nuts?
And, this weekend, I was finding out just how difficult it is to work the stone and polish it. I've gone through a diamond blade and drill bit already! If you haven't already figured out that I'm a big archaeology nerd and need any explaination for why, I'm making a small mosaic which shows the ancient Labarum (aka chi-rho) symbol using porphyry and surrounded by white marble mosaic bits. It is basically the same inscription found on a wall in the Vatican Hill by the earliest Christians where evidence shows that the original grave of Peter has been found. It was also the battle standard for the Emperor Constantine who, as the legend from Lactantius goes, had a vision of the symbol, then had his soldiers paint it on their shields, and promptly proceeded to win a difficult battle against the odds at Milvian Bridge in 312 which led to the end of the Tetrarchy... In Hoc Signo Vinces - In this sign you shall conquer.
Speaking of tetrarchs and all things tetrarchically related, I've uncovered in the ancient dirt of Blogspot a great blog o' humor with four great comedic writers (a tetrarchy if you will). Two of these are already on my list to the right. Please check out the Open Letters Blog, and the blogs of their respective authors who are in my estimation very wise at ruling over making people laugh.
I Tetrarchi (o quattro ladroni) della Basilica di San Marco è una scultura molto speciale. Il scultura realizzato con porfido impresa estremamente... Ero un mosaico questo fine settimana con porfido, l'antica labarum. Ora ho bisogno di acquistare nuovi utensili diamantati :(
Forse si può vendere il mosaico? lol!
The Empire’s Ghost by Isabelle Steiger
12 hours ago