Cultural codes in the iconography of St Nicholas (Santa Claus)

Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak

Abstract


This paper examines some aspects of the cultural codes implied in the iconography of St Nicholas (Santa Claus). The argument posits the iconography of St Nicholas as a vessel for capturing meanings and accumulating them in the construction of public culture. The discussion begins from the earliest developments of the Christian era and proceeds to contemporary depictions (imagology). The study is conducted on the basis of a representative selection of renditions of Saint Nicholas, including 350 pictures of medieval representations (Western and Eastern Christianity), folk extensions and secular representations and it is theoretically grounded in the Tartu School of semiotics.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12697/SSS.2011.39.1.04





SIGN SYSTEMS STUDIES. ISSN 1406-4243 (print), 1736-7409 (online). E-mail: sss@ut.ee. Postal address: Sign Systems Studies, Dept. of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Jakobi St. 2, 51014 Tartu, Estonia