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a great collection of medieval illustration
April 13, 2013 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Weird, funny, surreal, fun, silly, bawdy, macabre, cool and strangely beautiful. The Discarded Image is a Tumblr collection of Medieval illustrations gleaned from various illuminated manuscripts, bestiaries, books describing the cosmology of the Middle Ages, ordered and maintained by a celestial hierarchy. The Discarded Image is also the name of CS Lewis' last book, about the fascinating Medieval mindset and world picture.

On Time and Space in the Middle Ages by Eric Mader, 2005.

Medieval perceptions of fundamental things like time and space were radically different from ours. It's in great measure such fundamental but hard to grasp differences that account for the strong sense of foreignness one feels upon entering the Middle Ages--and this whether we enter it through literature or via some painting or tapestry. How can a traveler come closer to understanding? ...

Lewis' book closes with epistemological questions of a similar kind. He acknowledges that the medieval Model of the universe has one obvious disadvantage, namely that it is not true. But the meaning of this statement--"It is not true"--has a different weight for us now than it had in the overconfident 19th century. After the breakthroughs of 20th century physics, we have come to recognize the extent to which our own models of the universe are fallible--how they most likely tell us more about the structures of our own thought than they do about an external universe we can mathematically map and know. The medieval Model has certainly been superceded, Lewis implies, but ours will be too. What the medievals "knew" about the universe has an intrinsic beauty and harmony that is a truth of its own sort.

The Discarded Image, CS Lewis' book, Wikipedia entry
posted by nickyskye (23 comments total) 98 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is fantastic, thanks nickyskye!
posted by clockzero at 11:34 AM on April 13, 2013


Lots of interesting things to look at, thanks! Reminds me of the "Mmm, Marginalia" category on the "Got Medieval" blog (which seems to have stopped updating, but I definitely recommend his marginalia posts if you haven't seen them already).
posted by theatro at 11:48 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


They're on Facebook too; I love seeing what they come up with every day.
posted by dhens at 11:48 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am already almost done "designing" this years Texas Cavers Reunion t-shirt.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:51 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Link to all the cat illustrations.
Link to all the butt illustrations.

You're welcome.
posted by mcmile at 12:35 PM on April 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


What the fish?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:24 PM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you like this kind of thing, and why wouldn't you, try to track down a copy of The Secret Middle Ages by Malcolm Jones (jut not at the insanely marked up Amazon used book price). A whole lot of bizarre and utterly hilarious symbolism (and sarcasm) is made clear there. I also know people who can set you up with all the winged penis and vagina on stilts pewter badges you might need.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:37 PM on April 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of when a student is explaining all the reasons she needs an extension on her project. Well, except the student is usually not blindfolded but wearing earbuds.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:38 PM on April 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Followed. This is great even without getting into the Lewis and metaphysics.
posted by immlass at 2:48 PM on April 13, 2013


Thanks for this post! I love Medieval stuff like this!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:50 PM on April 13, 2013


Terry Gilliam is actually 600 years old.
posted by UrbanEye at 5:11 PM on April 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of Tumblr's finer medieval manuscript art posts
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:11 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Link to all the cat illustrations.
Link to all the butt illustrations.



It's like you can read my mind.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:23 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those are really awesome, thanks!
posted by Athanassiel at 6:58 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once again, you post something that is simply wonderful. Can't wait to dive in. Thanks.
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:00 PM on April 13, 2013


Why are so many of the bunnies violent?
Anyone know the history behind the knife-wielding bunny trope?
posted by rmless at 10:16 PM on April 13, 2013


The rabbits are euphemistic as is the violence. Rabbits symbolize sex in general and the female reproductive organs in particular. Consider the term coney - [Middle English coni, from Old French conis, pl. of conil, from Latin cunculus, possibly from cunnus, cunus, female pudenda.] So, when you hear what seems like an inappropriate reference to rabbit hunting or see depictions of hounds chasing rabbits you can pretty much bet that this is a thinly veiled reference to sex.

I think this hunting rabbit makes it pretty obvious what those rabbits are hunting. See also "Pussy Goes a Hunting" from one of my previous links.

Overbearing wives riding their husbands like horses is also a common bit of iconography, so here's a two for one.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:49 PM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I should have also added that "the world turned upside down" was also a big humor motif in the middle ages and rabbits hunting hunters fits in that niche as well. Whether this is apart from the sex, or is just giving the sex reference plausible deniability, I can't say.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:22 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting, thanks Kid Charlemagne
posted by rmless at 6:29 AM on April 14, 2013


Brilliant reply, thanks Kid Charlemagne.
posted by nickyskye at 9:16 AM on April 14, 2013


This is great! Thanks, nickyskye.
posted by homunculus at 1:43 PM on April 14, 2013


Link to all the cat illustrations.

Thou art a kitty!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:26 PM on April 14, 2013


theatro: "Lots of interesting things to look at, thanks! Reminds me of the "Mmm, Marginalia" category on the "Got Medieval" blog (which seems to have stopped updating, but I definitely recommend his marginalia posts if you haven't seen them already)."

I loved Got Medieval. I really hope Carl is able to get past his problems and start updating again.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:22 AM on April 24, 2013


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