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Blemmyae and Barnacle Geese

May 20, 2015

By now it should come as no surprise that I’m interested in medieval society and historical oddities, yes?

Good. Because today I’m going to talk a bit about the creatures one finds in medieval bestiaries. The weird, fantastical ones that either never existed or are the product of the medieval version of the Telephone Game. (Actually, that’s probably where the unicorn comes from.) I hope someday to include a few of these in my current novel project, provided I get to write books six and seven.*

Note that these are not everything that’s out there. They’re simply my favourites.

A basilisk

A basilisk

A griffin

A griffin

Barnacle geese

Barnacle geese

The parandrus.

The parandrus.

Blemmyae

Blemmyae

The gorgades.

The gorgades.

The vegetable lamb of Tartary.

The vegetable lamb of Tartary.

I’m not sure if I’m more fascinated by the creativity of the medieval mind to come up with these beasts, or the gullibility of the medieval mind to accept them as real enough to put in a book, or the science of how a lizard-chicken or a headless man or animal-plants actually works.

There’s a lot more to bestiaries, especially on the allegorical front—an animal was associated with a specific trait and that trait had a moral, Christian message for the reader. I don’t know much about that. I’d like to. It sounds fascinating. There’s also the natural history and folklore of animals aspects, which again … would like to know more.

(Thanks be to The Medieval Bestiary for a number of the images.)

 

* Yes, I think that far ahead. I can’t help myself.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2015 10:10 am

    this is great !!!

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