The Noah Mosaics in the Palatine Chapel

12th century
Mosaic
Palatine Chapel, Palermo, Sicily

Photographed at the chapel by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.


On the left of this panel the Noah cycle begins with a tender family portrait. It will end with the scene of Noah's drunken stupor and his boys' reactions. On the right Noah receives God's command and his sons get to work building the ark, a rudderless boat with a church-like structure amidships. (See the description page for a larger picture, explanation of the tools used, and more details.)

The one scene chosen for the actual flood is the return of the dove with the olive branch. The raven will not be seen until the next panel. (See the description page for more details.)

On the left the raven pecks at a naked corpse left by the flood while in the middle Noah releases the animals from the ark. On the right God puts a rainbow in the sky to symbolize his covenant with Noah. Missing from the scene is Noah's sacrifice. (See the description page for more details.)

On the left men gather grapes from the vine that Noah planted. The wine from the grapes is in the jug on the right, beside the patriarch who has fallen asleep drunk and half-naked. Cham points to his father mockingly while the other sons avert their eyes and cover their father. (See the description page for more details and a larger picture.)

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