Leaf from the Teutonic Knights’ Bible
Water-based pigments, gilding and ink on parchment
Museum no. 9036.Z
The illluminated initial is the letter U. The figure in the centre of the page is playing a bagpipe.
This leaf comes from a large Bible consisting of three volumes made for the monastery of the Teutonic Knights at Nieuwe Biesen, near Maastricht in the Netherlands. It is dated about 1300. The text, written in Latin, is from the Old Testament, The Book of Zephaniah.
These books were very large. They were designed to be read aloud from a lectern (a reading desk) to the assembled congregation, or to monks and nuns during meal times and prayer. Several volumes were needed to contain the complete text of the Bible.
Although not visible here on the webpage, when viewing the original pages, prickings (marks made at the side of a page with a point or knife) can be clearly seen. These acted as a guide for ruling the lines on which the text was written.
Comic figures combining human and animal form, in this case the man with a tall peaked hat, playing bag-pipes, were sometimes added to the margins of the text. These decorations, known as grotesques, often bear no obvious relation to the texts they are decorating.
This print can be found in Print Room Box 11a.