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mandorla

/mænˈdɔːlə/
noun
1.
(in painting, sculpture, etc) an almond-shaped area of light, usually surrounding the resurrected Christ or the Virgin at the Assumption Also called vesica
Word Origin
from Italian, literally: almond, from Late Latin amandula; see almond
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for mandorla

(Italian: "almond"), in religious art, almond-shaped aureole of light surrounding the entire figure of a holy person; it was used in Christian art usually for the figure of Christ and is also found in the art of Buddhism. Its origins are uncertain. The Western mandorla first appears in 5th-century mosaics decorating the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, where it surrounds certain Old Testament figures.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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