Long before Sergio Aragonés filled the margins of MAD Magazine with tiny, weird cartoons, the margins of medieval manuscripts were a playground for bored monks with crude senses of humor.
While some monks expressed themselves with flat-out crudity, a more common motif was the ubiquitous, triumphant armed rabbit, often shown killing dogs, humans, and other enemies of bunnykind.
Writer Jon Kaneko-James explains the symbolism of these murdering coneys, illustrated with fine examples of the form.
Since rabbits and hares were signs of cowardice, innocence, helplessness, and passive but willing sexuality (lots of medieval sexual imagery involves wolves jumping on rabbits), the idea of them getting their revenge amused medieval artists as much as it amuses me. All told, they are pretty helpless animals whose only hope of survival is to breed fast and run away, a trait that wasn’t particularly successful in the Medieval era – a significant proportion of the French economy was based on eating and skinning rabbits.
The image of the rabbit’s revenge transcends just the illuminated manuscript – the misericord seats in Manchester Cathedral are supported by a 15th century carving of a hunter being spitroasted by rabbits while his dogs are boiled in the pot.
In medieval manuscripts the image of the rabbit’s revenge is often used to show the cowardice or stupidity of the person illustrated. We see this in the Middle English nickname Stickhare, a name for cowards, and if the we take a look at the Poke list, we’ll see a lot of tough hunters cowering in the face of rabbits with big sticks. In the 13th century epic Roman de Renart we even have the character Coward, who is a hare, capturing an armed man who drops his sword at the sight of him and ends up being dangled from a stick.
Why Are There Violent Rabbits In The Margins Of Medieval Manuscripts? [Jon Kaneko-James]
I gave my mother my treasured 5-quart Lodge deep skillet and lid when I found a lovely antique to restore. I’ve been using it while visiting with them. It was no easy thing when I gave my Mom my Lodge chicken pan. I had been using it for ages as my primary skillet and perfected […]
This Candy Chemistry set is a great way to learn about candy with your kid, in the kitchen. Do not, however, leave your kid alone with this Candy Chemistry set. Learn all about candy, and temperature control, in your own kitchen. This kit comes with almost everything you’ll need to make quite a few delicious […]
Any list of great video game soundtrack list that does not include THPS is bunk. Tony Hawk is measurably one of the coolest people to ever walk the Earth and this soundtrack wins. Halo and the Gregorian chant thing. Chills. Halo 3 might be better, tho. Space Harrier. Meant to be played at a motion-enhanced […]
On the one hand, nostalgia is “a corruption of the historical impulse,” according to William Gibson. On the other hand, “Super Mario Bros.” will never not be cool. Luckily, there’s a way to satisfy that retro gaming while still keeping an eye on the future: The GameShell Kit. This thing is simultaneously the last handheld […]
The field of data analytics can get intimidating, even for business professionals who constantly rely on it. But at its heart, its purpose is to simplify. To take mounds of information and distill their insights into a single clear picture. Currently, the go-to software for painting that picture is Tableau. And if you want to […]
If you’re in the market for a stable, durable camera fully suited for first-person video, there’s a good chance that you’re the adventurous type. So why settle on a familiar name like GoPro? The DJI Osmo Action 4K HDR Camera checks off all the same boxes on the action cam checklist as the GoPro 4K […]