Curious naked people in medieval margins: boulder man

This image [below], of a naked man holding a boulder as both hurtle down towards a meeting with what may be a homunculus playing with an airborne dog, puzzles some scholars who study medieval documents. It — and many other unexpected drawings, quite a few of which feature naked people pursuing vigorous activities — populate the margins of a book known as the Rothschild Canticles. The Got Medieval blog writes about it, and about many other curiosities from the same long era. Got Medieval quotes Yale University Press about the Rothschild Canticles:

Produced for a nun at the turn of the fourteenth century, […the Rothschild Canticles] served as an aid to mystical devotions in which images played as central a role as the written word. Visionary depictions of Paradise, the Song of Songs, the Virgin Mary, the Trinity, and hundreds of other subjects based on texts ranging from the Bible to the Lives of the Desert Fathers together form a devotional program that transports the reader toward contemplative union with God.

4 Responses to “Curious naked people in medieval margins: boulder man”

  1. dmajor Says:

    Naked Man is not hurtling anywhere. He’s hanging over the edge of the text, preparing to drop the rock onto the dog-juggling gnome. A very early version of The Gong Show. Obviously.

  2. Torbjörn Larsson Says:

    The forelimb positions of gnome and dog tests your hypothesis – Gong-nam style.

  3. angoisse Says:

    Thank you

  4. Erin Clark Says:

    He is Sysiphus. He is falling down the hill with the boulder. Great struggle requires constant action and pressure. Sysiphus symbolizes this human struggle, thru the human struggle we strive to be divine. The gnome and dog are an afterthought in the margin. They seem oddly contemporary.

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