cherub (chĕrˈəb) [key], plural cherubim, kind of angel. Cherubim were probably thought of in the ancient Middle East as composite creatures like the winged creatures of Assyria. In Jewish tradition, they are described (Ezek. 10) as having four faces and four wings and also as beautiful young men; but late Christian art made plump children of them, as in Raphael's Sistine Madonna. With the seraphim (see seraph) they are said to be in the very presence of God. The color surrounding them is traditionally blue.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.