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Fun Friday Fact! Almonds and Art

February 28, 2014

In addition to truly scrumptious recipes by Lynda Baslev, our newest book: Almonds: Recipes, History and Culture is filled to the brim with beautiful almond-inspired artwork from around the world.

As the lovely introduction in the book details, artists have been inspired by the poetic beauty of the almond nut – and the rose tree that bears it – for centuries. In the realm of religious art, the almond would play a particularly indelible role. Ancient Egyptians found the almond alluring enough to inscribe on the walls of their tombs while Christian art – from the Byzantine period and beyond – saved the graceful curve of the almond nut shape for only the most sacrosanct of imagery.

If you’ve seen any medieval art, you’re no doubt familiar with the “mandorla” – the luminous cloud that surrounds sacred personages. Medieval artists used the almond shape to signify the divine nature of the subject it enclosed.  But what does “mandorla” actually mean? Why, it’s the Italian word for “almond”!  (Proof that the almond’s appeal is truly out of this world).

Mandorla Almond Mosaic

A stunning example of mandorla in mosaic

Mandorla Almond Manuscript

An example of mandorla in an illuminated manuscript