Vagina dentata: la mujer con una cabeza de león y su contexto en la catedral románica de Santiago de Compostela


  • Victoriano Nodar Fernández


In the transept of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, a capital carved between 1100 and 1110 features a curious representation of a woman with a lion’s head between her legs. A careful analysis of its iconography, its style, and the models that the sculptor may have used has allowed us to identify a theme that is unusual in the figurative arts of the Romanesque period: the vagina dentata. The analysis of its topographical context —it is located immediately behind the Façade of Platerías— its relationship with the figurative capitals on the neighbouring pillars, as well as other aspects such as the audience for which it was meant, and the underlying causes for the choice of this iconography, will further our understanding of the importance of this image for an iconographic programme that glossed the message of the basilica’s southern portal in this liminal space.