Saturday, 10 November 2007

Genius Cucullatus

Along the way to rediscovering the Treveri peasant from Trier, I found many other wonderful bronze statuettes, details about pointy head gear in northern Europe, and information on Genius Cucullatus.

Throughout the past two centuries, excavations in Romano-Celtic settlements on both Britain and the European Continent have turned up a number of representations of a hooded deity interpreted to be cult objects of the genius cucullatus. Providing a case for the origin and identity for the cult has been a challenge for archaeologists because, as with many topics in the study of Celtic culture, the only information available is encoded in the relief carvings and votive objects depicting the deities. Often, these objects have been long disassociated with their original context and have suffered heavy weathering.


To draw up a list of features each figure displays would be short; they wear thick hooded cloaks and are found in pontentially sacred contexts. The cloaks vary in length, number of folds, extent of body coverage, and hood shape. Although no pattern has been determined among the different cloak styles, other differences between the figures are partly linked to the regions in which they were found. Most scholars agree that the genii cucullati of Britain predominantly appear in triads, are small of stature, and often carry eggs, or other fertility attributes (Heichelheim 192-3). In contrast, the cucullati of the European continent appear singularly, as giants and dwarves, and occasionally imply phallus worship(193). In both regions the deities are often found clutching parchments or scrolls, which may signify wisdom (Jenkins 88) or the secrets of healing lore (Toynbee, 1957 158).
Trevor is a Gallo-Roman god based on this tradition, it explains the presence of the egg, even if the egg's purpose is mysterious. I also learnt that generally the names of Gallo-Roman gods are unknown; no one seems to have written them down.

Netherby Genii Cucullati

Netherby Genii Cucullati, unknown date, in local cream-colored, pinkish sandstone, 25.5 cm by 20 cm. Netherhall Collection, Maryport, Cumberland.

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