Where do Foliate Borders Come From? (Mmm… Marginalia #56)

Ever wonder how the elaborate decorative borders in medieval manuscripts are made? This image from Mainz Stadtbibliothek MS 33, a 15th-century breviary, has an answer:

Why, it’s monkeys, of course! Clever, nimble, hard-working monkeys gather up the blue and red vegetable bits and pin them carefully to the manuscript’s borders.

Monkeys–is there anything they can’t do?

Note: Now that I’ve reposted the Mario post I guess you’ve lucked out and gotten to see next week’s Mmm… Marginalia a week early.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ben

    Aw, man. And I already linked to it! So now I've got a dead link sitting on my FB account…

    Really, though, I thought it was great, and can only look forward to v2.0.

  • Emma J

    I knew they wrote all the works of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson locked up in that room of theirs with the bank of typewriters – but marginalia?

  • woolymonkey

    Is that monkey chained to the bottom of an initial, or just wearing boots?

    And I liked the Mario post, damn it!

  • Got Medieval

    I don't have a very high quality scan of this one, but I think (I think) the monkey has his foot wrapped around a twirly bit of decoration.

  • amy

    I find this thoroughly enjoyable and I think monkeys are awesome, so please believe me when I tell you I'm not trying to be a drag… but that is a chimp; monkeys have tails.

  • Got Medieval

    Medieval people were just as loose with the word "monkey" (or its equivalent in their own tongue) as people nowadays (me included).

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