Halo Information

A halo is a ring of light that surrounds a person in art. They have been used in the iconography of many religions to indicate holy or sacred figures, and have at various periods also been used in images of rulers or heroes. In, among other religions, Hellenistic Greek, Roman, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian sacred art, sacred persons may be depicted with a halo in the form of a golden, yellow or white circular glow around the head, or around the whole body, this last often called a mandorla.

Homer describes a more-than-natural light around the heads of heroes in battle, Depictions of Perseus in the act of slaying Medusa, with lines radiating from his head, appear on a white-ground toiletry box in the Louvre and on a slightly later red-figured vase in the style of Polygnotos, ca. 450-30 BC, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On painted wares from south Italy radiant lines or simple haloes appear on a range of mythic figures: Lyssa, a personification of madness; a sphinx, a sea demon, Thetis, the sea-nymph who was mother to Achilles, The Colossus of Rhodes, was a statue of the sun-god Helios and had his usual radiate crown . Hellenistic rulers are often shown wearing radiate crowns that seem clearly to imitate this effect.

A more prosaic influence that has been cited by some historians is the Greek practice of placing circular metal discs above the head of statues to protect them from birds and their droppings, thus anticipating the "perspectival" halo by over a millennium.

Wikipedia, Halo, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_(religious_iconography) (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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