Winged Wednesday: Cherubs – Angels or Beasts?

Often the images associated with Cherubs are Putti, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putti

If you’re like me, you might have at some point confused cherubs with the cute, little, babyish winged angels, the kinds you see on Valentine’s day cards. These saccharine images are actually called Putto (Putti is plural) and were a stylistic version of male children, usually portrayed in the nude, with wings. According to Wikipedia, “putti are secular, profane and present a non-religious passion. However, in the Baroque period of art, the putto came to represent the omnipresence of God.” (From  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putti).

Cupid is also portrayed this way, especially in art from the Hellenistic period. A putto representing a cupid was also known as an amorino.

While Cerubs are also associated with the presence of God in the Hebrew Bible, that’s really where the association ends. Oh, that and they have wings. Instead two wings, of like these fluffy boy babies, Cerubs actually have four (some even say six).

Cherubs – Angel or Beast?

According to the Bible, cherubs are human in appearance but each of them actually has four faces, and each of them has four wings. (Ezekiel 1:5) Each of them had four faces and four wings, with straight feet with a sole like the sole of a calf’s foot, and “hands of a man” under their wings. Each had four faces: The face of a man, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:6-10).

Impressive.

Because of their unusual appearance, superhuman power, they were sometimes considered beasts rather than angels.

Guarding the Tree of Life

Apparently, Cherubim first appear in the Bible in the Garden of Eden to guard  the Tree of Life.  To do this, these multi-headed, four-winged creatures carried swords of fire. Apparently, their appearance was like burning coals and they were associated with the Chariot of God, and revolving wheels covered in eyes.

Can you see the fluffy little Putti doing that? Me neither!

Hierarchy

According to the Christian Heirarchy of Angels, the Cherubim are high-ranking angels and can be found in the First sphere. According to this, they are also in the second choir, below only the Seraphim.

One of my favorite images of Cherubs can be found here. (I’d insert it, but I don’t know whom to credit for the image). As you can see, they’re not your fluffy little Valentine’s Day Angels. I’ll bet these guys could kick some butt.

How about you? Did you know this about the cherubs? Or did you think of them as fluffy little Putti from Rennaisance art?

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