Adam and Eve at Their Labors

12th-13th century
Cathedral of the Assumption, Monreale, Sicily

In Eden God had told Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" and then "sent him forth from the Garden of Eden to till the ground from whence he was taken" (Genesis 3:19a, 23). Most representations assign Adam a hoe and Eve a distaff, the medieval tool for spinning wool or flax into thread, which was "woman's work." The plant next to Eve's right foot is flax.

The couple are still wearing the tunicas pelliceas that God gave them in the Garden, and Eve still has that odd pair of ribbons in her hair.

The inscription ignores Eve and her distaff: adam cepit laborare terram, "Adam begins to till the earth."

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Photographed at the cathedral by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.