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Memorial Union Memorial Union: The Transcendent Tower

Signs, Symbols, and Seals: The Sculpture of Memorial Tower

Adorned Archways

Two sculptural bands decorate Memorial Tower’s ogee arches and the larger one consists of animal and floral imagery. Symbolic of Missouri and embodying a protective spirit, downward facing bears clutch Ionic capitals (tops of columns) like those found on old Academic Hall’s Ionic columns. Crockets, Gothic foliated motifs, separate the bears from mythical creatures, most likely griffins or phoenixes. Both of these creatures originated in the pagan cultures of the ancient Near East and early Christians adopted them into their visual repertoire. Bunches of grapes, a Christian motif, separates the animals and crockets. Below this is the second decorative band, which is an example of running ornament, or a continuous band of designs adorning architectural molding. Memorial Tower’s running ornament has square plaques decorated with alternating grotesque creatures, human faces, four-pedaled flower blossoms, and the green man motif, all of which are Christian symbols. The creatures embody the concept of original sin and Hell while the angelic faces represent humanity. The flowers’ four pedals symbolize the Four Evangelists and the green man motif represents a Celtic fertility god, which the Christians embraced as a symbol of life, death, and rebirth.

Adorned Archway Showing Sculptural Bands Adorned Archway Showing Sculptural Bands







Memorial Union Exhibition

Exhibition Home

History of Memorial Tower

Making the Memorial

In Memoriam

Signs, Symbols, and Seals: The Sculpture of Memorial Tower

Figured in Stone: The Arcade Sculptures of Memorial Tower

Tradition: Tipping the Cap


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