The long restoration campaign at the cathedral is nearing completion and the scaffolding has finally been removed from the façade. I had been waiting for months to photograph some of the animal sculptures, and a couple of mornings ago, as I trained my camera on the ox at the upper left of the window, I was reminded that quite a few of the façade’s decorative corbels are animal heads, among them, a pig, without question my favorite.
A corbel, or console, is a projecting, usually load-bearing, architectural element, functioning much like a bracket. A series of corbels supporting an arcade is called an arched corbel table, a common motif in Romanesque architecture. These were often left unadorned, but sometimes their corbels were carved with decorative or figural ornaments, as at Sessa. The pig appears in the corbel table beneath the gable of the façade, which is the only one that retains all of its decorative corbels.