Thursday, February 6, 2020

When You Try to Explain a Joke

So, I seem to have caused a lot of confusion about yesterday's Wordy Wednesday (or Wordless Wednesday) selection of two monks discussing the correct way to portray a rabbit in an illuminated manuscript. I got lots of "I don't get it"

So, these types of illuminations are found in the margins of some manuscripts. Oddities of marginalia are called Drolleries. These are images that turn the world upside-down. In the example to the left, we see a rabbit posed as a nobleman going out for a hunt, riding his dog, and carrying a snail as if it were a falcon. Knights fighting snails human heads on animal bodies were also popular subjects.

Some scholars would argue that these images were Medieval political commentary. Perhaps, lower-classes trying to get above their station.

One of my colleagues commented that it would seem the monks were served the abbot's "good" wine at the noonday meal. Everyone was in their cups as they went back to the scriptorium to work. Besides wine, maybe mushrooms (as in magic mushrooms or psilocybin.) were also served. Their bread may also have been contaminated with ergot which can cause hallucinations.

I think the main takeaway is the scribes were bored. They drew funny pictures in the margins of the texts they were copying. Drawings that mostly had nothing to do with the text. Just like we doodled in the margins of our textbooks or while taking notes in school or at meetings. (At least I did) The drawings were droll. Just a joke. 😺


  1. Thanks for explaining this. I never would have gotten it, even if I'd had a bit of creamed psilocybin soup for lunch.

  2. Even monks need some fun, and I always love these little extras. I saw one manuscript where a donkey had been given the face of the abbot - a little revenge? Valerie

  3. I thought it was funny! No explaination needed.... :D (I agree, I think they were bored and also they were leaving something for us to be condused by!)

    1. You thought it was funny because we have the same warped sense of humor 😺

  4. Jokes lose a lot when they have to be explained lol But they make it possible for people to re-tell them :)

  5. Oh this makes so much more sense now and I learned something new also. Thanks. Did you get snow, ice or rain (or all 3) today? We had all 3, but let's see what tonight and tomorrow brings. Hugs-Erika

  6. Ah, now I get it! Wine, mushrooms, being bored, too, haha! I should try this ;-)

  7. I've not seen this post yet (I'm working backwards! LOL!)
    Will go and have a look now :)

    All the best Jan

  8. I like and agree with your takeaway.