The putti angels are celestial beings usually depicted as having a very distinct human infant or childlike form, and are usually male in regard to gender. The word putti itself is plural, obviously referring to more than one putto angel. The words putto or putti are Italian in origin, and translate into English to mean small boy or child. The Italian words obviously are rooted in Latin, with the base being the word putus, which means small boy or child. Linguists state that within the early modern Italian language, the word putto simply meant child, and was used quite commonly. Not the case today, as the term putto specifically refers only to the child angelic beings, which are most often represented in Renaissance paintings and sculpture, the era of their origin. The very first known use of the term putto or putti, occurred within Giorgio Vasari's artist biographies series known as Lives of the Artists, which was first published in 1550.
With regard to the medium and representation of these strange angelic figures, they first started to appear within the Baroque art of the Italian Renaissance. Art historians state that the concept itself of small childlike angels is quite old, and they were originally found in early Roman art, and even within Ancient Greece. These infant like spirits were thought to symbolize fertility, well before they ever made their way onto Renaissance canvas. If the link between these Roman or Greek figures is true, then the putto or putti would be pagan creatures of European myth, which would explain why they are not discussed within any form of Christian canonical scripture. If this is indeed true, it would not be the first time that pagan deities have made their way into Christianity, for example some believe the Nephilim are actually the same beings as the legendary Greek Titans, half god half human giants that wrought have upon the earth.
A major nuisance which has long since aggravated and bothered religious scholars and theologians, is the blurred and confused link between putti angels and the Judeo Christian Cherubim angels. Early Biblical scholars once linked the putti angels with the Cherubim, but at the time that this link was made, there was a very clear distinction between putti angels, and the Cherubim. It was stated that the putti were a sub class of Cherubim, but not one in the same. Due to this link being made, slowly over time the link would begin to blur, and by the time that the Italian Renaissance had come and gone, the putti were mostly known as Cherubs, the incorrect plural form which correctly spelled is Cherubim, a Hebrew word. The Cherubim are might winged beasts that guard the thrown of God, as well as the gates of the Garden of Eden, they are exact opposites of small silly looking child like angels, that have now taken over the definition.
So the next time you hear the word Cherub or Cherubs beings used, know that not only it the plural term or word itself grammatically incorrect, but the whole definition is wrong. These small childlike angels are putti angels, not the Cherubim angels that guard the thrown of God, and look more like a mighty griffin, as described in the Old Testament of the Bible. Scholars and academics seldom make the error, and the distinction is known, however because the error shows up on mass produced greeting cards and other materials, it's quite the task to correct the definition in the mainstream. Strangely the putto or putti are not just confused with the Cherubim, they are also confused with cupid angels, who again are similar but a totally different class of angels or celestial beings. I plan to write up a quick article on the cupid angels as well, so please stay tuned for that to be published. Cheers, and thank you for reading through this article.