Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Who knew?

I took some time yesterday evening to systematically go through all the images that come up when you search on Betschnur (the common Austrian word for a rosary) in REALonline, an index of photo images from museums in Austria. (See here for more about this source.)

Now this is an angle on rosary history I had never considered: apparently, as early as 1481, the practice of using paternosters had already spread into the animal kingdom. Here's the evidence:

Rabbit rosary

(and yes, I'm joking...)

To see more information (in German) on this image, go to REALonline. Unfortunately they don't make it easy to give a direct link to a particular image, so do this:

Click on the button that says Auswählen.

Then enter 007446A into the blank toward the bottom of the left-hand column (just above where it says Rechtstrunkierung möglich...).

Click the button just below it that says Zeige Bilder. That should take you there.

This image comes -- along with quite a few other images, which you can see if you click on the Voriges Bild and Nächstes Bild buttons -- from an antiphonal, which is a music manuscript giving all the "antiphons" or plainchant refrains used in church services through the year. The manuscript is dated 1481 and may have come from Vienna. It's now in a university library in Graz, Austria.

The manuscript has a splendid collection of illuminated initials showing saints, and in the margins, quite a few other amusing bits, including a harper, a scribe, a stretching cat, and a fox carrying a hen(with a mischievous hooded face just below it).

Sheer serendipity!