NARRATOR: This manuscript, known as the Aberdeen Bestiary because it is now kept in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland, was created in England in about 1200. Here, it’s open to a page at the beginning of the book.
BETH MORRISON: It was thought that God created all the animals at the beginning of time, and so bestiaries often open with creation scenes. Here on the left-hand side, you see a picture of Christ in Majesty, sort of presiding over the scene. At the right is a picture of Adam naming the animals as they come into creation.
NARRATOR: The vividly-colored animals are arranged on the page from the largest predators at the top, to the smaller domesticated animals at the bottom. You’ll see three big cats at the top and underneath them are the kinds of animals they would eat, like stags and horses. Then down at the bottom, you have rabbits, cats, and a squirrel.
BETH MORRISON: The coloring of the animals isn’t exactly what we would think of now. I can’t think of too many blue large cats. The idea was to create a decorative pattern on the page. This was meant to make the animals look beautiful, and not so much a reflection of what they look like in reality.
One of the most powerful aspects of the image of Adam naming the animals (to me) is the way that all the animals are looking right at him. He has their attention. They’re all coming up in their varied ranks and hierarchies to pay homage to Adam, since he is the one that will preside over them on earth.