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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Smile of Uta

The smile of Uta defies the limestone of her statue, defies the centuries since the statue was carved, defies our total lack of knowledge about the artist who created the statue: an anonymous stone carver who built by 1250 the miracle that is the Dome of Naumburg, and, inside its west choir, the miracle of twelve gigantic limestone statues, placed in front of the huge stained windows, and among them the miracle of Uta.

And for centuries people try to understand how was that possible, to figure such a smile on a limestone statue, and, above all, what that smile means!

Ekkehard and Uta, from the Dome of Naumburg
c. 1249-1255

I was visiting Germany, years ago, and I knew about Uta and about her smile. I was with three other friends and I persuaded them to stop at Naumburg and to go to the Dome, between two trains. The town had been one of the very few to escape from bombing during WWII, and had kept its wonderful Gothic appearance. And the Dome was probably one of the most astonishing churches I have ever visited. And Uta was there, with her smile: oh Lord, what a miraculous day!

- close up -

She had been born around 1000. Her father, probably for political reasons, married her to Count Ekkehard of Meissen. The marriage remained childless. Her husband passed away in 1046; I didn't find other information about her later life. All I know is that nowadays men still lay roses at the feet of the 1.80 m high statue.


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