Why is this man laughing?
First, two caveats:*
- OK, maybe not laughing, but snickering, or smiling to himself with quiet amusement, and
- 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 .