While pulling away handfuls of stinking hair from the very edges of the skin I got to thinking about the strange goings on in the margins of illuminated manuscripts, including the Cuerden Psalter. Cynthia Johnston's wonderful talk about the Hart Collection manuscripts for the Friends of Blackburn Museum on Thursday had raised the question of 'why are these images there?'. There are various theories on the subject, including those of Michael Camille, but as I scraped and plucked I started having my own. . . . . .
At the very edges of the animal skin one confronts nipples, 'pockets' (that held the testicles?) and orifices such as the anus, and tubes of skin where the legs once were. The sanitized folio of vellum has these trimmed from its borders but the parchment makers were acutely aware of the life, death, and sexuality just beyond its margins.
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