Below are the pictures I chose to print on the “parchment” manuscripts. I tried to choose animals relevant to the texts we’ve read so far: birds (like the nightingale and hawk) and werewolves. I also consulted The J. Paul Getty Museum’s website on the exhibit of “The Making of a Medieval Book,” linked here.
Photo Description: “An owl being attacked by three smaller birds, Southern England (Salisbury?), 2nd quarter of the 13th century, 310 x 230 mm. Harley 4751, f. 47 According to Hrabanus Maurus (d. 856), whose encyclopaedia, De rerum naturis, is excerpted in this bestiary, the owl signifies those who have given themselves to the darkness of sin and who flee the light of righteousness. When other birds see the owl, they attack it, pulling at its feathers and tormenting it with their beaks. The text likens the owl’s plight, depicted here, to that of sinners, who are justly chastised by the virtuous. The owl, it concludes, is a miserable bird.”
Photo Description: “A crane and barnacle geese in the margin of the Topographia Hiberniae, Northern England (Lincoln?), c. 1196-1223 The Topographia Hiberniae of Gerald of Wales (1146-1223) draws on his observations of Ireland’s topography, climate, creatures and people. The depiction of barnacle geese here accompanies Gerald’s account of the creatures, in which he observes that they are born in water as excretions from driftwood and are attached to the wood and enclosed by shells in their early stages of development. The illustration actually depicts an alternate account of the origins of barnacle geese, in which they grow from trees that hang over the water; those that fall from the tree into the water float away safely, while those that fall on land die.”
Photo Description: “A priest of Ulster administering communion to a she-wolf in her den in the margin of the Topographia Hiberniae, Northern England (Lincoln?), c. 1196-1223 In his Topographia Hiberniae, Gerald also recounts tales of marvellous creatures and events. He tells of a priest travelling from Ulster to Meath who is approached one night by a wolf who reveals that he is actually a man, cursed by a saint to take the form of a wolf after seven years. He requests that the priest administer the last rites to his companion, who lies dying in wolf form. The priest is shown here administering the viaticum to this she-wolf. Gerald was only too happy to cast the Irish in a morally dubious light, as he does here, because he was writing in part to encourage and justify an English invasion of Ireland.”
Also of interest from this website: “Within bestiaries and without, animals inspired medieval writers as sources of wonder, entertainment and moral instruction. Observations of the creatures that populate Ireland fill the pages of theTopographia Hiberniae of Gerald of Wales, and he includes many creatures in his accounts of marvels that had been seen and recounted in the land. It is not surprising that some of these accounts found their way into bestiaries, which feature creatures both familiar and exotic.
The animal fables of Aesop (sixth century BC) draw morals from short and entertaining accounts of creatures whose susceptibilities and wiles are all too human. Fabulists like Aesop found in the natural world a mirror that offered both instruction and entertainment. Marie de France drew on Aesop and other sources when writing her Anglo-Norman verse Fables in the twelfth century. At a time when bestiaries were taking lessons from animals on how salvation might be achieved through virtuous living, Marie’s Fables offers morals applicable to navigating the vagaries of one’s life on earth. Equally earthbound is theRoman de Renart, a series of tales that began circulating in the twelfth century. The Renart stories feature the rivalry of the wily fox, Reynard, and his foe, Isengrim the wolf. These tales sometimes have a serious side, satirising the abuses of both church and state.” http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/TourBestiaryStudies.asp#ENCYC
Here is a link to the parchment making company, Pergamena Handmade Parchment.