a: H. 86.0 cm (33 7/8 in.); W. 70.0 cm (27 8/16 in.)
b: H. 62.5 cm (24 5/8 in.); W. 69.5 cm (27 3/8 in.)
Not on view
Thara is the son of Nachor and the father of Abraham and represents, depending on the source, either the ninth or the tenth generation after Noah. During the Middle Ages, Thara was viewed negatively, as he came from the city of Ur in Mesopotamia, which was considered a hotbed of paganism, expressed here by his awkward hand gesture and uneasy twisted posture. The color of his cloak reinforced this interpretation, for yellow was associated with avarice and lust. The cloaks and long gowns worn by all the ancestor figures were characteristic of twelfth-century ceremonial dress of the ruling secular and ecclesiastical classes. These garments were thought to recall the dress of ancient priests and kings of the Old Testament who presaged the coming of Christ. The wide Romanesque foliate border is comparable to the rich borders that enhanced contemporary illuminated manuscripts.
Thara and Abraham were originally in a clerestory window in the northeast transept at Canterbury. Both were moved to the Great South Window in 1792. As the windows in this part of the cathedral are somewhat larger, Thara and Abraham are slightly larger than the choir figures. The border panels, which remained in the original clerestory window, have been temporarily removed and are here reunited with the figures for the first time in more than two hundred years. Abraham’s face was replaced in the twentieth century with a copy.