Why is This Man Laughing? (Mmm… Marginalia #65)

Why is this man laughing?

First, two caveats:*

  1. OK, maybe not laughing, but snickering, or smiling to himself with quiet amusement, and 
  2. OK, not a man, but in fact the Word Given Flesh, Mr. Jesus H. Christ.

Still, why is He so giddy?  Apparently because He shares the lower margin of this late fifteenth/early sixteenth century gradual* with a naked chicken-footed man who’s dismantling the page’s floral border in an attempt to hide off to His left [our right].

Silly chicken-footed man, don’t you know that the Savior is omniscient?  There is no marginal decoration sufficient to cloak you from His amusement.

Oh, and if anyone’s wondering why there’s a phantom box of darker color around Jesus, it’s not because I botched an attempt at enhancing the image with Photoshop.  Rather, that’s probably the discoloration caused by hundreds of years of Christians touching, tracing, or kissing the little marginal medallion of Christ for good luck.

*OK, three caveats.  It’s possible Jesus’s smile is an artifact of image compression, too, as I’ve never seen this MS in the flesh. But he certainly seems happy to me.
**UT Austin MS HRC 013 .

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Josh

    We do so many things that'd make JC laugh, I don't know where to begin.

  • GCU Prosthetic Conscience

    Jesus laughed! Wasn't this part of the plot of The Name of the Rose?

  • Kate

    I'd laugh too if I was stuck with a chicken-man. 😀

    Great find!

  • ncm

    It's that or cry.

  • arby

    The boxiness of the, um, box, makes me think something was scraped off the page and replaced with the grinning Jesus. And there appears to be an even more squarish lighter box behind the dark one. Hard to believe that medieval fingers and lips could be so symmetrical.

  • Creatura Christi

    You write "naked chicken man" as if you're surprised that he's naked – of *course* he's naked! Look at those feet – how on earth would he get pants on over those?? In fact, I'm certain that's the reason Jesus is laughing.

  • Got Medieval

    Actually, there's another chicken-footed man on the same page who plays the bagpipes and wears clothes. So I stand by my original claim.

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