Alchemical and Rosicrucian Compendium (Selected Pages). Mellon MS 110. 1760.
Today’s Manuscript Monday comes from the opening page of a manuscript containing a collection of Cicero’s works (Topica, Partitiones oratoriae, and De Oratore) made in Southern Italy in the 15th century. The blank space at the foot was for a shield or coat of arms but it was never filled in.
These charming images from medieval medical books show something you don’t often see depicted in this age: foetal positions in the womb. The drawings range from the 10th to the 15th century but they show more or less the same scenes. What is most striking, of course, is that the babies-to-be are simply miniaturized adults, which is how children are often depicted in medieval illustrations. There is something oddly entertaining - and strange - about these tiny people. The top image in particular has an almost cartoon-like appearance: if it wasn’t for the Middle English text around it, the drawings could well be modern. A short story in four frames of a tiny naked person doing exercises on a pink yoga mat.
Pic: London, British Library, Sloane MS 2463, 15th century (top, more here); Brussels, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, MS 3701-15, 10th century (lower left, more here); Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 724 (lower right, more here). Here is a nice piece on medieval twins, which features other images.
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