The Hair Bridge

An early representation of Purgatory, between Christian and Islamic solutions

By Comune di Ripacandida

Allegory of Death (1498-1520) by collaborator of the Master of Jesus' childhood storiesComune di Ripacandida

Unlike many cases in which the Universal Judgment unfolds on the only counterface of a religious building, as a traditional all-medieval, in San Donato it, like diptych, is divided on the two walls of the first span starting from the entrance. The viewer's gaze was immediately struck by the representation of Death, in the form of a human skeleton holding a silt, placed on the inner side of the second semi-pillar and, consequently, front at the entrance. Below Death lie several bodies, whose headdresses (crown, tiara, triregno) indicate that it spares no one.

the hell (1498-1520) by Collaborator of the Master of Jesus' childhood storiesComune di Ripacandida

In Ripacandida there is an orchestration of the Universal Judgment that betrays the presence of clients and theological consultants whose culture went beyond the mere knowledge of sacred texts: in Hell the city of Dite, a building of hexagonal shape and the crenellated walls of clear Dante's flavor

The hell (1498-1520) by Collaborator of the Master of Jesus' childhood storiesComune di Ripacandida

In the central part, where today you can see a modern era niche carved into the wall, you can barely identify the presence of a bridge, of which only the two ends of the first steps are visible at the bottom.

Detail of The hair bridgeComune di Ripacandida

Represents an extraordinary testimony about the first depictions of Purgatory, opening up new soteriological perspectives compared to the more widespread eschatology of separating souls between good and evil. Better known as "Bridge of Hair" (or Purgatory or Trial), it is crossed by all souls becoming a testing ground for judging the actions committed in life. If the passage of good souls is very simple, it is made more difficult and uncomfortable for evil souls, since the bridge, thinning until it reaches the thickness of a hair, forces them to fall into Purgatory, the river of pitch below.

Damned soulsComune di Ripacandida

The diffusion of this subject in the West is depending on the Visio of Alberico da Settefrati, monk of Monte Cassino, born around 1100. In order to trace the original source, however, we must go beyond our geographical boundaries and take into account the Muslim eschatological literature: allude to the Book of La Scala, an Arab-Spanish esthetic text of which the original Arabic has been lost, but of which there are two corresponding versions in Latin.
(ms. Vat. 4072, the first thirty years of the 14th century) and in French ancient (cod. Lat. 6064, fourteenth century); both, in turn, derived from an original Castilian, also lost, made by Alfonso X of Castile just before 1264.
It is a typical specimen of mi'ràg” (scale and/or ascension or journey), which Muhammad would undertake in the underworld after being aroused from his bed by the archangel Gabriel, a literary genre of Muslim edification, flourished by a possible interpretation of the Koran

the hell (1498-1520) by Collaborator of the Master of Jesus' childhood storiesComune di Ripacandida

In San Donato an angel completed the scene by waiting at the entrance of the "Bridge of Hair" the souls who gained the opposite bank of the Purgatory River; with his right hand he takes that of an elected man and with his left indicates the cruelties to which the four evil souls who, depicted on the right, are attacked by snakes

Angel of Paradise (1498-1520) by collaborator of the Master of Jesus' childhood storiesComune di Ripacandida

Those who could pass the test had access to Paradise, welcomed by an angel

Heaven (1498-1520) by Collaborator of the Master of Jesus' childhood storiesComune di Ripacandida

he would benefit from the beauty of God, the choirs of the blessed and angels.

Heaven (1498-1520) by Collaborator of the Master of Jesus' childhood storiesComune di Ripacandida

Credits: Story

Credit: Ruggiero Doronzo

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps