Couple of bird sirens from Arlanza

Room 15
Artists / Makers / Authorities: 
Anonymous. Castile
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This pair of animals with the body of a bird, goat’s hoofs and a human head formed part of the decorative frieze around the hall at Arlanza Monastery, from which the gryphon exhibited in the museum. They represent bird sirens, sheltering and protecting images from Greek Antiquity. Despite their affable appearance, they refer to the temptations of the senses, to deceit and to the dangers of vice and falsehood. By virtue of their striking appearance, they were highly decorative and they are often present in the rich early XIIIth-century artistic panorama of Burgos.

Other fragments from the same ensemble may be admired at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and at the Fogg Art Museum of Cambridge University, both in the United States.


First quarter of the 13th century

60 x 141.5 x 2.8 cm

Long-term loan from the Generalitat de Catalunya. National Art Collection. Given by Don Antonio Gallardo Ballart, 2015

Inventory number: 


Fresco transferred to canvas
Subject: Animal figure
Century: 13th
Part of the set of San Pedro de Arlanza mural paintings, dispersed among the MNAC, that keeps seven of the fragments, another in the Fogg Art Museum (Harvard University) and two others in The Cloisters (New York). From the former monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza (Burgos)
Anònim. Castella - Parella de sirenes ocell d'Arlanza - Primer quart del segle XIII
Parella de sirenes ocell d'Arlanza