Manticore; Parandrus; Yale, England, about 1200-1210, Bestiary (text in Latin)
The British Library, London, Royal Ms. 12 C. xix, fols. 29v-30. Image: GRANGER http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Royal_MS_12_c_xix
NARRATOR: Meet the parandrus and the yale on the right-hand page, thought to come from realms beyond Europe, like Ethiopia. Although …
BETH MORRISON: It didn’t necessarily mean that it was in Ethiopia. Ethiopia was kind of a code for a far-off land. Both the parandrus and the yale were thought to live in faraway places where no European probably had ever been.
NARRATOR: The parandrus, on the top, was a long-haired, ox-sized beast with antlers and cloven hooves.
BETH MORRISON: The parandrus was known for having a coat that could change colors. It was almost like camouflage, and if you looked at it, it could take on the aspect of whatever you saw behind it, so that you couldn’t really see it. It was a way of masquerading itself.
NARRATOR: The yale, at the bottom, was known for its incredibly long, vicious horns.
BETH MORRISON: The yale was super-special in that it could move its horns whichever direction it wanted to, depending on where its enemy was approaching from. They could both face forward. One could be behind. One could be on his right. You can imagine these swivels on its head, as it moves its horns around to protect it.
The artist has really emphasized that by coloring the horns green and also having the one horn slice through the text itself. The other horn actually comes outside of the illumination and its attenuated length and its sharpness is really emphasized…
NARRATOR: Medieval bestiaries were incredibly carefully composed compared to most other types of books.
BETH MORRISON: One of the things that really characterizes the bestiary is that the scribe and the illuminator were working so closely together. You can really see that on the right-hand page of the manuscript because the scribe would have had to known ahead of time that the illuminator was going to paint a horn that goes through the middle of the page.