The Sheela-na-gigs of Ireland Map & Guide

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This is an illustrated map and guide to over a hundred o the numeerous sheela-na-gigs found in Ireland. Researched, written and illustrated by Galway-based Jack Roberts, it lists locations by counties and provides interesting background information on the origins, meaning and symbolism of these figures. Sheela-na-gigs are carvings of female images in a tradition of symbolic rather than representational or realistic form. Unlike other fertility or mother goddess images where the breasts and belly are overtly emphasised, here the direct reference to genitals is thought to symbolise life, death and regeneration. Sheela-na-gigs were built into the walls of Irish churches from around the twetfth to seventeenth centuries.They were often placed in a prominent position such as over an entrance door or window. They have also been found on castles and other important structures such as town walls. Most of the known sheela-na-gigs have been discovered in Ireland but examples have also been found in Britain and in northwestern France. The original Irish name is 'Sile na gCioch'. 'Sile' (pronounced 'sheela') is Irish for femininity, a special kind of woman, a hag or a spiritual woman. It is thought to possibly also relate to the Irish word 'sidhe' (pronounced 'shee'), meaning a spirit or fairy. The word 'gig' could be translated as the Irish 'gioch' or 'giob', meaning the breasts or buttocks. It could also be interpreted as 'gui' meaning to pray or even to dance. Sheela-na-gigs were often known by the names of saints or were commonly referred to as the 'hag' or 'cailleach' (meaning old woman or nun) or the 'idol'. This interesting map and guide folds into a portable size of 21 x 15cm or can be displayed on a wall at 64cm x 45cm.