Monday, June 13, 2011

15th Century Lobster Fiddler

Michael sent me this illustration from the Aurora consurgens, a 15th-century manuscript from a writer called "the Pseudo-Aquinas," so named because the writer of this manuscript was originally thought to be Thomas Aquinas. The keeper of Ordinary Finds named it "The Monkey and the Violin" for line in a Leonard Cohen song but I find the image so much richer.

A snake for a bow, a lobster for a fiddle (a Vielle, no doubt--which is sometimes tuned like a viola), a fish for a tail, and a burning bunch of grass for a leg. Notice that the bird (which looks more like a raven than an eagle to me) is operating the left hand on the, er, fingerboard.

If you neglected to click on the Vielle link above, you can listen to (and watch) some superb vielle playing here. And there's something about the music Barry Hall plays that really illuminates the above illumination.

1 comment:

Tamsyn Spackman said...

That is such a weird picture! The thing I wonder most about is the right foot standing in the skull's mouth.