2007 mantel der liefde

“The Cloak of Charity”

There is a Dutch expression “bedekken met de mantel der liefde”, which means literally to cover something with a cloak of charity. More generally it means to refrain out of tact or kindness from remarking on a weakness or vice in one’s neighbour, and to conceal or gloss it over instead.”

There is nothing wrong with this; I see charity as an important moral quality. What I do have a problem with is that so many dreadful events or malicious statements also get concealed behind this cloak of charity.

I made this jewel as a protest against such behaviour. I emphasize the source of the texts used – they are not my own.

The religious symbolism of this jewel lies in its colours – white stands for purity, truth and light. Red stands for fire, for blood, martyrdom and being true to one’s beliefs. The number of texts that are “covered” by the hearts is seven, which is a sacred number. The cloak, which is made of a fleece, alludes to the Lamb of God. The hearts symbolize love.

The text from the Book of Genesis chapter 9 verses 18-24, that I have placed on a “stone tablet” tells the story of the sons of Noah, Shem and Japheth, who covered their father’s nakedness with a cloak when he was drunk. Apparently this is the origin of the expression “to cover something with the cloak of charity”.

photography by Francis Willemstijn
translation by Donald Gardner