Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism
Is a copy of a medieval Virgin and Child, as painted in Della Robbia ware in the South Kensington Museum, a copy of which, was given to me by my friend, Mr. Newton, to whose kindness I am indebted for many illustrations of ancient Christian art.
It represents the Virgin and Child precisely as she used to be represented in Egypt, in India, in Assyria, Babylonia, Phoenicia, and Etruria; the accident of dress being of no mythological consequence.
In the framework around the group, we recognise the triformed leaf, emblematic of Asher; the grapes, typical of Dionysus; the wheat ears, symbolic of Ceres, l'abricot fendu, the mark of womankind, and the pomegranate rimmon, which characterises the teeming mother.
The living group, moreover, are placed in an archway, delta, or door, which is symbolic of the female, like the vesica piscis, the oval or the circle. This door is, moreover, surmounted by what appear to be snails, whose supposed virtue we have spoken of under Plate i.
This identification of Mary with the Sacti is strong; by-and-by we shall see that it is as complete as it is possible to be made.