effigy

An effigy is a representation of a person, especially in the form of sculpture.

The term is usually associated with full-length figures of a deceased person depicted in stone or wood on church monuments. These most often lie supine with hands together in prayer, but may also be recumbent, kneeling in prayer or even standing. Effigies may also be (half) demi-figures and the term is occasionally used to refer to a bust, for example: "the coin bears an effigy of Lincoln".

A different type of effigy is used in some religious rituals to represent an undesired person or spirit. The effigy is burned as a sign of the participants' shared intent to banish the represented element from their lives. The best known British example is the burning of an effigy made of straw and/or old clothing depicting the 17th century Catholic conspirator, Guy Fawkes.

Political effigies serve a broadly similar purpose on political demonstrations or annual community rituals such as that held in Lewes, on the south coast of England. In Lewes, models of important or unpopular figures in current affairs are burned on bonfire night, alongside an effigy of the Pope. The unpopular or political figures are part of tableaux and are not classed as effigies.

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