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Disembodied heads in medieval and early modern culture / edited by Catrien Santing, Barbara Baert & Anita Traninger.

  • Books

About this work


Do heads excite a desire to chop them off; a desire to decapitate and take a human life, as anthropologists have suggested? The contributors to this book are fascinated by "disembodied heads", which are pursued in their many medieval and early modern disguises and representations, including the metaphorical. They challenge the question why in medieval and early modern cultures the head was usually considered the most important part of the body, a primacy only contested by the heart for religious reasons. Carefully mapping beliefs, mythologies and traditions concerning the head, the result is an attempt to establish a "cultural anatomy" of the head, which is relevant for cultural historians, art historians and students of the philosophy, art and sciences of the premodern period.


Leiden : Brill, 2013.

Physical description

xx, 311 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm.


Outcome of a two-day conference held at the Academia Belgica and the Royal Dutch Institute at Rome.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references and index.


Adam's Skull / Marina Montesano -- Talking Heads, or, A Tale of Two Clerics / Robert Mills -- The Meaning of the Head in High Medieval Culture / Esther Cohen -- Securing the Sacred Head: Cephalophory and Relic Claims / Scott B. Montgomery -- The Johannesschüssel as Andachtsbild: The Gaze, The Medium and The Senses / Barbara Baert -- Chasing the Caput. Head Images of John the Baptist in a Political Conflict / Mateusz Kapustka -- The Self-Portrait 'En Decapite': Interpreting Artistic Self-Insertion / Arjan R. de Koomen -- Capita Selecta in Historia Sacra. Head Relics in Counter Reformation Rome (1570CA.-1630CA.) / Jetze Touber -- Framing the Face. Patterns of Presentation and Representation in Early Modern Dress and Portraiture / Bert Watteeuw -- And I Bear Your Beautiful Face Painted on My Chest. The Longevity of the Heart as the Primal Organ in the Renaissance / Catrien Santing.


  • English

Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    History of Medicine
    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 9789004253544
  • 9004253548