Walter S. Arnold, Sculptor/Stone Carver: Classically trained in Italy. Custom hand-carved stone sculpture. Made in the USA and Italy.

Walter S. Arnold Sculptor/Stonecarver: Classically trained in Italy. Custom hand-carved stone sculpture. Made in the USA and Italy.Classically trained in Italy. Custom, hand-carved, stone sculpture. Made in the USA and Italy.    Call for an estimate:  (847) 568-1188  or


The Gargoyle News #7, Jan. 19, 2001

Charles wrote to ask,

Hi, I'm interested in the story of the Gargoyle. Like the Greek mythology, I want to know the mythology of these fascinating creatures.

Answer: Many mythological creatures seem strange at first, but their forms serve a purpose and tell a story. They are often hybrids, made up of parts from different animals; this was believed to impart the qualities and strengths of these animals to the mythological creature. For example, the chimera has the head of a lion, the tail of a dragon, the body of a goat, and the wings of an eagle. A griffin has the head, wings and claws of an eagle and the body of a lion. 

Gothic Gargoyles are infinitely varied in their forms and attributes. Some are based on mythological archetypes, like green men and dragons; others reflect the medieval community in which the carver lived. Some seem good, some seem evil; most are a mix of these, just like people are. I will discuss this in future issues of The Gargoyle News. Today I'll tell you about an interesting and unusual figure from a different culture and time. 

This week I finished carving a panel with a Farohar, a Zoroastrian guardian angel. While working on this piece, I had to learn about its history so that I could accurately depict the traditional form of this angel. Zoroaster is an ancient religion, founded by Zarathushtra. It was the dominant world religion 2000 years ago; now there are only about 130,000 practitioners. The Farohar appears at first to be a strange mix of forms and images, but after delving into its history, you find out that everything is there for a reason. It was designed to represent the purpose of life and the spiritual progress of the soul. The circle around the body represents the soul, with two wings so the soul can evolve and progress. The head reminds us that every soul has free will, and can either obey or disobey the divine natural laws of the universe. Each wing has five rows of feathers, representing the five senses. In one hand the figure holds a ring, symbolizing the cycle of reincarnation on earth and other planes through which the soul travels on its journey to spiritual union. The two bands coming out from the circle represent the two conflicting forces in nature, that of goodness and wickedness. To help balance the soul against the pull of these forces, the tail of the figure is in the form of a rudder. It has three layers of feathers, as a reminder of the three aspects of the path to spiritual progress- Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. I also carved those words in English and Persian on the panel, together with Roman Numerals symbolizing the Ten Commandments. So, what starts out looking like a strange carving, an odd mix of forms, turns out to be a very unified and symbolic representation.

You can see my carving of the Farohar on my Religious Sculpture page. Click the small image to see a larger photo.

You can also send a Farohar postcard from my Griffins, Gnomes and Angels postcards page.

To learn more about the Zoroastrian faith, see Avesta

You can read more issues online:

Issue 7        Mythology of gargoyles, the Zoroastrian Farohar
Issue 10      Why sculpt gargoyles? Notre Dame and Toronto gargoyles
Issue 32     
Narita, Japan
Issue 33      Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, Valentines gargoyles
Issue 51     
Stonecarvers Guild, New York Gargoyles, Frank Lloyd Wright Fountain
Issue 68     
Dublin, My new studio, Jackson Park Bridge, student questions, wedding registry
Issue 81      Aurora Dream Cycles Show, Almora B&B, Emperor Trajan, Facebook

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