National Geographic : 1969 Dec
His footsteps died away, and the cathedral was silent. With a list of the windows in hand (you need a list: there are 176 of them, total ing more than 2,500 square yards of glass), I sought out some of the 42 given by the trades. In most of these the lower panels presented tradesmen at their accustomed task, while the upper portion told a religious story. Here was a butcher, with inverted ax upraised to kill a calf as a little dog sat expectantly awaiting his bit of fresh meat (page 871). Elsewhere was a weaver at his loom. A carpenter operated a foot powered lathe. Tanners scraped hides, soaked them, softened them; cobblers made shoes of them, leather workers made purses. Water carriers poured out clear water; vintners tended vines and hauled great tuns of wine in two-wheeled carts (pages 872-3); apoth ecaries mixed syrups and potions. Fishmongers transported their perishable merchandise in parasol-shaded wagons as wheelwrights made wheels for these and other vehicles and blacksmiths shod horses to pull them (page 870). Furriers and drapers, shown in their shops, displayed their wares to gesticulating customers who seemed unhappy about the prices. One lady had removed her glove, the better to feel a squirrel coat held out before her by a furrier. A certain Geoffrey, a stocking manu facturer by trade, appeared in a window labeled with his own name and offering red socks in the only personal advertisement to intrude upon this sacred place. That it has stood unscathed throughout centuries proves that the Virgin possesses not only grace but a sense of humor. OF THE MANY OCCUPATIONS pictured in the windows or represented by them, those which seem to me most charac teristic of the cathedral and its countryside are concerned with glass, stone, and grain. The church is, after all, a vast prayer in glass and stone. The country round about, on which the economy of Char tres has always depended, is a country of grain. Practitioners of these occupations still ply their trades in Chartres. I had met and talked with them, and they came to mind as I studied their pictured predecessors. There are no signatures of the glaziers in Our Lady's glass almanac of medieval life, but the windows themselves are their memorial. They recalled to me the cathedral's own master glazier of today, M. Lorin, and another great glass man of Chartres, M. Gabriel Loire, who has earned international fame with his modernizations of the ancient techniques. Signatures of stoneworkers, with their plumb lines and mallets and chisels, reminded me of labors now being performed in the estab lishment of Messieurs Martin, father and son, who still quarry and cut the curiously dense, hard limestone from which most of the cathedral was built. "It is a labor of love," the elder Martin had told me. "We get this wonderful material near the village of Bercheres-les-Pierres, five miles away. We bring it here in 11-ton chunks and cut it into blocks and sheets to be used in housebuilding. Hear how the cutting ma chines labor as they attack it? There is no profit in the work, but if we did not do it, no one else would." "Flinging its passion against the sky," the cathedral bears out the words of Henry Adams, who believed that "Chartres expressed.. an emotion, the deepest man ever felt-the struggle of his own littleness to grasp the infinite." 880 KODACHROME© N.G .S .