`Weeping' Madonnas hold key to statues
Saturday 23 September 1995
The milk-drinking statues of Hindu temples are most probably acting like the Roman Catholic Church's "weeping Madonnas" but in reverse.
The most likely explanation is that the milk is being absorbed by capillary attraction - the movement of water through sponge-like material - just as Madonnas weep because water seeps out through scratches in the surface glazing.
According to Dr Julia Higgins, Professor of Polymer Chemistry at Imperial College, London, if statues are made of baked clay then they will absorb water (or milk) prodigiously: "Break a flowerpot, dip it in water and the water disappears like mad," she said. Especially after the weather has been hot and dry for a long period.
Last month, Dr Luigi Garlaschelli, a chemist from the University of Pavia in Italy, demonstrated that he could make his own "weeping madonna" from a glazed plaster statuette. As long as its impermeable glaze remained intact, the statue behaved normally. However, barely perceptible scratches in the glazing over the eyes produced droplets of water, like tears.
Professor Higgins stressed she did not wish to offend religious believers, but said: "There could be natural explanations depending on what material the statues are made of."
The same behaviour from marble statues "would be interesting", she said, "but I haven't done experiments". She concluded: "I'd be adamant that brass wouldn't do it."
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...