December 22 – Zoomorphic initials

A 15th century Gradual, probably produced in the south of France. This is the University’s second heaviest manuscript and it measures over half a metre tall! (St Andrews msM2148.G7)

Today, rather than featuring a specific fantastic beast, we are highlighting the gradual. The gradual or graduale was a music book used in liturgy for the choral parts of the mass. Its huge size was to allow up to 4 choristers to use it at one time. This gradual was written for use by the Franciscan friars, probably in the south of France.

Our gradual, dated c.1400, contains decorated initials, with faces, flora and fauna. Here is a sample of some of the dog-like creatures, although there is one that looks like very much like Nessie!

Pen decorated initial ‘D’ with dog from p. 73 of a 15th century Gradual (St Andrews msM2148.G7)

Pen decorated initial ‘S’ with serpent from p. 400 of a 15th century Gradual (St Andrews msM2148.G7)

Pen decorated initial ‘Q’ with unidentified animal (Nessie?) from p. 64 of a 15th century Gradual (St Andrews msM2148.G7)

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