The ideal bride through the months

Jun 1st, 2018 | author Antonella Bazzoli | posted in A World of Symbol, Discoveries, Voices of the Past, Women in History

Husband and wife in the month of May

In the cycle dedicated to the twelve months of the year, carved by Giovanni and Nicola Pisano in 1278 on he Main Fountain of Perugia, the month of May is represented by an uxor (latin term for wife) riding a horse and followed by an elegant medieval knight.

The lady of May is holding a hawk on her left arm and a whip in her right one. The man has three roses for his wife: the scene represents the symbolic language of the age of chivalry and courtly love.

The two figures carved in the marble in the lower basin of the monument, remind to the atmosphere of a courtly wedding, as in the Middle Ages it was usual for the wedding party to parade through the streets of the city, with the bride on horse at the head of the procession
that followed the bride to her new residence: the house where lived the parents of her new husband.

If in the springtime the uxor takes on the ideal role of a bride, in the panels representing the months of August and January the function of the woman has shifted more towards the domestic sphere.

Generally speaking, the calendar has always been a way for man to try to make order out of chaos. What better figure than woman could symbolize regularity and the concept of order?

The month of August is represented by a matured wife

The reliefs of August and January represent two figures of exemplary wives helping in everyday activities including work in the fields, such as the lady of August that is shown in the panel collecting figs with his husband.

In perfect accord with the passing of time and season, the uxor of August is a flowered and matured woman.  She is no longer the young and immature lady as depicted in April and May.  Nor then is it odd to find her aged in January, month of changeover from the old to the new, when even nature is at rest, awaiting the dawn of the spring season bearing new life.

Antonella Bazzoli

The article is part of the research  “Chi dice acqua dice donna”  by A. Bazzoli, edited in “Medioevo”, Year 13 N. 6,  June 2009
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