Christmas Countdown: 21 More Sleeps!


The Carrow Psalter, folio 33 verso (the back-side of the 33rd leaf), c. 1250

I’d just like to point out that this image, while it’s big here, this picture is actually pretty small in the manuscript; it takes up less than a quarter of the 24.7 by 17.6 centimetre piece of parchment. That means it’s about 6 by 4 centimetres. If you’re having trouble imagining just how small 6 centimetres is, it’s about two paperclips long. TWO PAPERCLIPS. When you think of how much detail is in this image – the creases of the Magi’s robes, the thin white outline of what I assume to be myrrh, the teensy beard hairs – you’re forced to realize just how much skill a manuscript illuminator had to have. And this image isn’t unique; all of the Carrow Psalter’s illustrations are just as meticulously done. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, though. After all, if the book’s patron had enough money to get some major gold leaf in his book, I assume he had no financial difficulty hiring the best illuminator(s) in town.

Now, my thoughts. The interest part, right?

As much as I appreciate the detail in this image, I can’t help but be a little creeped out by what I’m seeing. Why are Jesus’ hands as big as Mary’s? Why does the frontmost Wise Man have such a prominent foot arch? Why is he wearing those oxfords I saw on sale at Forever 21 last month? And why, oh why, does everyone look like a Bratz doll?! Those dolls are creepy, man. Chucky’s got nothing on Meygan. Yes – one of the Bratz dolls is names Meygan. “Nicknamed ‘Funky Fashion Monkey’ by her friends because she has a wild sense of style!”

Excuse me while I go weep for Generation Z.

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