A (Quasi) Monkish Monkey (Mmm… Marginalia #66)

This week’s image is found in MS 16 (fol. 223r.) of Castle Huis Bergh’s collection of late medieval art:

On the one hand, it’s just your average image of a monkey riding off to joust on the back of a wild pig. Monkeys do this sort of thing all the time (in manuscript art, I mean). But on the other hand, check out his haircut. It’s more than a little reminiscent of a tonsure, which is to say the haircut that medieval religious types were known to wear from time to time, making this guy a monkish monkey, a lame pun that only works in English and so almost certainly wasn’t intended. So what was intended?

Given the angle his head is cocked at and the fact that his skin is the same color as his fur, there might not be a tonsure there at all, but something closer to a Beatle mop, which avoids the temporally-displaced pun but doubles down on the anachronism.  After all, Peter Tork–of the Monkees–was also known for his Beatlish mop back in the day.  Could this monkey with a Monkee’s haircut be some time traveler’s signal to us?  And just what are they signaling?

I worry that Dan Brown might get word of this image, so nobody mention it to him, OK?  Dude loves both puns and anachronisms, and to make matters worse the monkey squire there is found in the margin of a late-medieval extra-Biblical account of Mary Magdalene’s journey to and subsequent life in Provence after Christ’s death–you know, the legend that inspired the whole Da Vinci Code thing. 

Actually, on second thought, do mention it to Dan Brown.  If there’s anything that would improve the inevitable Da Vinci Code sequel’s sequel, it’s time-traveling manuscript-illuminating Peter Tork-worshiping monkeys.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Seamyst

    As long as Dan Brown doesn't start on a conspiracy theory including the monkish monkey's blue ass…

  • Sheryl

    "If there's anything that would improve the inevitable Da Vinci Code sequel's sequel, it's time-traveling manuscript-illuminating Peter Tork-worshiping monkeys."
    I'm still not sure that I would read it, though. 😛

  • tenthmedieval

    I have to admit that I am mainly exercised by why the monkey is apparently attacking with a very long sink-plunger. Is it, mundanely, some kind of practice lance? Is it then mocking squires or trainee knights somehow? Or, if it's that late, the whole knightly ethic full stop?

  • Got Medieval

    I'd say it's probably meant to represent a blunted lance, even if it's a bit short for that.

    And (to respond to a Facebook commenter) I read the boar's expression as more indigestion than boredom.

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