Enduring Handcraft, Forgotten Hand

light shadowed
doors within doors
echos of faces faded
obscure hand’s work endures
“Their sound hath gone forth
into all the earth.”

Copyright © 2015 Terry Boswell

These are the doors of Lisbon Cathedral, also known as the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint Mary Major, in Lisbon, Portugal. Metal spiral patterns adorn the surface of the massive doors which hold two smaller doors within them. In the shadows above the doors there is a cross and the Latin words, “In omnem terram exivit sonus” – “Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth,” Psalm 18:5.

While editing these photographs, I was thrilled to find the words “Vicente Esteves, Lisboa” along with roman numerals stamped into the metalwork.  I tried to find information about this man who must have made the doors or fashioned the metal work, but I found nothing.

I began thinking about all of the unknown craftsmen, whose work survives centuries, sometimes millenia, their names and faces forgotten.

After editing the photos and writing most of this blog post, I continued to search for information about Vicente Esteves… Nothing.

Next I scrutinized the roman numerals. I could easily decipher the XXXIII, 33, at the end, but was having a hard time making out the first few letters. At first I thought they were MIDMI, but that made no sense. After a while I realized that they were the letters MCM and the entire number was MCMXXXIII which is…

… 1933! Not quite what I was expecting, but some of the mystery was solved!

I’ll still consider Mr. Esteves to be one of those craftsman whose work endures. In less than 20 years this work of his will be 100!

To see the upper portions of the cathedral click here.

This is my response to the Photography 101 prompt, “mystery.” I chose these photos because of their contrast of light and shadow, and because I find doors mysterious. They are portals for the imagination. The more exotic the door, the more mysterious.

This is also my response to the One Word Photo Challenge: Beaver. Thank you Jennifer for the challenge!

5 thoughts on “Enduring Handcraft, Forgotten Hand

  1. I too expected the date to be much older than 1933. As I get older, my appreciation grows for the artistry of older architecture compared to the sterility of modern buildings. These doors are a wonderful example.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The date made me laugh at myself when I figured it out!
      I’m personally drawn to older architecture and the handwork involved in them as well, but I do enjoy the clean lines and reflective interaction with the surrounding environment that some modern architecture has.


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