A Lavishly Illuminated Medieval Bestiary Goes Online

The Aberdeen Bestiary was written in England around 1200 AD. Bestiaries were manuscripts listing animals along with morality lessons. Most were not illustrated, and color illustrations were even more rare. The Aberdeen Bestiary was illustrated in full color, and is a treasure of the medieval era. It's been in the possession Aberdeen University for almost 400 years. The university began uploading images from the book in 1996, but those were photographs. They debuted a new catalog of hi-resolution scanned images from the Aberdeen Bestiary last month. Yes, the entire book is online, although it was never completely finished.   

According to university professor Jane Geddes, marks and annotations previously indiscernible to the naked eye suggest that the book ended up in the king’s library as a treasure handpicked by his scouts, who rummaged through dissolved monastic libraries for valuables. Although the book is ornate, it was never fully finished. Now clearly visible imperfections indicate that it was created in a scriptorium by many hands. The bookmaking team would have consisted of prickers, a scribe, draftsmen, and painters, and pages reveal instructions left by craftsmen for one another. Notes in the margins also relay edits to the inked script, from corrections to spelling errors to more pronounced mistakes related to the narrative (e.g. “The swallow is not attacked by other birds”).

Read more about the Aberdeen Bestiary at Hyperallergic, and view the manuscript at its website. -via Boing Boing


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