Last edited 05 Nov 2020



In architecture, a grotesque, also known as a chimera, or boss, is a fantastical or mythical figure used for ornamental purposes. Regional variations of the term include 'hunky punk' and 'onigawara'.

In common parlance, they are referred to as gargoyles, although the strict architectural usage of that term refers to those features that also serve as a waterspout.

The word is derived from grotteschi, the Italian term for the Roman grottoes that contained such decorations. They were revived as an ornamental feature in the Renaissance and became popular throughout Europe, being used most frequently in the decoration of frescoes.



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