Details of tree and embracing couple, from Marvels of the East, 'The Beowulf Manuscript', c.975-c.1000
© The British Library Board, Cotton MS Vitellius A xv, folio 106v
Here is the second of my Valentine's Day card designs. Should you wish to know what trauma prompted this creative burst in me, and you haven't been keeping up to date (shame on you), you can read about it in my previous post.
Inside the message reads:
A marvel you are. I can't believe my luck when they handed you over to me. You are indeed my marvellous valentine!
Notes on the image:
This scene, from the Marvels of the East, purportedly shows a man carrying off a woman as his new wife, but blow me if I can work out who is carrying whom!
Note how the wearer of the short tunic (normally associated with a man) has his legs apparently suspended, whilst the long tunic wearer (surely a woman) has her feet firmly on the ground. I leave it up to you twenty-first-century folk to work out how to appropriate the spirit of this visual narrative.
Marvels of the East, section 30:
'This race of people live for many years, and they are generous people. If anyone visits them they give him a woman before they let him go. When Alexander of Macedon [Alexander the Great] visited them, he was amazed at their humanity, and would not kill them or cause them any harm.' Translation by Andy Orchard, Pride and Prodigies: Studies in the Monsters of the Beowulf-Manuscript (Univ. of Toronto Press, 1995), pp. 201, and 203.
Such a decent fellow, Alexander. Always concerned for others.
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