The 14th-century medieval forgery known as the Shroud of Turin, which some Christians still insist was the shroud used to wrap the body of Jesus in following his legendary crucifixion, may show how perceptions of crucifixion and how it was depicted in art changed over time.
Carbon dating has shown that the flax used to make the linen cloth grew in the late 13th or early 14th century, not long before the shroud made it's first public appearance in France. This evidence confirms the evidence from the image itself that the shroud is a medieval European forgery. Strangely, the claim that it is the genuine shroud of Jesus never explains how the linen travelled back in time some 1400 years to 1st-century Palestine and then came forward again to 14th-century France, but such details are of little consequence to people who are desperate for evidence or to a church which habitually tries to trick people with fakes and phoney tales of miracles.
The image on it appears to have been a crude attempt to reproduce a body around which the shroud was wrapped and to make the body look like it had been crucified by painting some 'blood' on the arms. The artist appears to have either been unaware that wrapping a cloth around an object does not reproduce a three-dimensional image of the object, or he/she tried to reproduce an image that many people would assume such a process would produce.
If the forger had thought about it at all, it must have been something of a dilemma to either reproduce a realistic image as produced by wrapping it round the body, that no-one would recognise as the figure of a man unless projected onto a cylindrical mirror, or to produce something laughably unrealistic to an unbiased observer but that uncritical people would recognise as a human figure and allow confirmation bias and an eagerness to be fooled to gloss over the errors. The latter psychological process is the one normally used by religions to fool people with similar 'miracles'.
|From the Gorleston Psalter, c.1320-30|
It could be that the artist just decided to draw the rivulets of blood parallel to the arms for artistic reasons.We can see how the forger was influenced by other artistic and cultural traditions and assumptions of his/her time in the depiction of Jesus as a European in the same pose used for the effigies of important people on their tombs. The hands, which are too small for the size of the face - a common mistake in early art - are discretely folded over the genitalia - something that would have been difficult to maintain whilst wrapping a body in a shroud and something that would not have been regarded as important since there was no expectation that anyone would see the body naked again. But obviously, if you're going to put an image of Jesus on display you don't want to show his naughty bits because that would be disrespectful and you can't use the traditional artistic device of a loincloth because bodies aren't normally buried in them.
Matteo Borrini, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
'via Blog this'