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Why Are There Violent Rabbits In The Margins Of Medieval Manuscripts?

We’ve posted many times about the weird marginal illustrations in medieval manuscripts. You might have noticed over time that rabbits are a commonly-recurring theme. Sure, the monks that drew them probably saw rabbits often, but the ones in the fields never murdered anyone.

There are a great many strange things that can be seen in medieval illuminated manuscripts: weird human-animal hybrids, distorted monsters and odd scenes. These largely come under the category of ‘Drolleries’ or ‘Grotesques’. I’ll be entirely honest and admit that codicology isn’t my thing, so I’m not 100% certain why someone would spend hours lovingly illuminating an otherwise serious manuscript with such bizarre and nightmarish scenes, but for some reason, they would.

Drolleries sometimes also depicted comedic scenes, like a barber with a wooden leg (which, for reasons that escape me, was the height of medieval comedy) or a man sawing a branch out from under himself… which brings us to a particular type of Drollery – the ‘World Turned Upside Down’.

Ah, the essence of comedy, the contrary and unexpected thing. Jon Kaneko-James takes a closer look at a few famous examples of medieval rabbits causing mayhem that you’re sure to enjoy.  -via Metafilter


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